When & Where To Install Sump Pumps

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Sump pumps play a critical role in protecting homes from water damage by efficiently managing excess water and preventing flooding in basements or crawl spaces. Knowing when and where to install a sump pump is essential for homeowners to safeguard their properties and maintain a dry, secure environment. Let’s learn a little more about when and where these drainage systems are needed!

What Is A Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a type of drainage pump for your home that removes excess water accumulated in a low-lying basin (also known as a “sump”). Like all drainage systems, the purpose of a sump pump is to prevent flooding, with a particular focus on preventing flood damage to the foundation and low-lying areas of a building. After water accumulates in a sump pit that is installed at the lowest point of your home or any building (basement, crawl space, etc.), a mechanical pump removes the water and sends it to a storm drain or open area away from the building. 

How Sump Pumps Work

To fully understand how a sump pump works, it is important to know the main components. Though parts and equipment can vary between different sump pumps, most systems utilize the same or similar parts and function in the same manner. The list below will help homeowners familiarize themselves with some of the more common components of a sump pump and how they operate.

  • Sump Pit & Liner: The sump pump system begins with the sump pit basin, which contains a hard plastic liner with an airtight lid, at the lowest point of the basement or crawl space. Its role is to collect excess water that may accumulate due to groundwater infiltration or drainage system runoff.
  • Float Switch: Mounted inside the sump pit, the float switch serves as the trigger mechanism for the sump pump. As the water level rises in the pit, the float switch rises with it. Once the water level reaches a predetermined height, the float switch activates the pump.
  • Pump: The heart of the sump pump system, the pump consists of a motor and impeller. When activated by the float switch, the motor powers the impeller, which spins rapidly, creating a suction that draws water into the pump.
  • Discharge Pipe: Connected to the outlet of the pump, the discharge pipe serves as the pathway through which water is expelled from the sump pit. It directs water away from the foundation of the home to a suitable drainage point, such as a storm drain or dry well.
  • Check Valve: Installed on the discharge pipe, the check valve is a one-way valve that allows water to flow only in one direction—out of the sump pit. Its role is to prevent water from flowing back into the pit once the pump shuts off, maintaining the integrity of the system and preventing unnecessary cycling.
  • Backup Power Source: Optional but highly recommended, a backup power source such as a battery backup or generator ensures the sump pump's continued operation during power outages. It provides peace of mind by safeguarding the home against flooding even when electricity is unavailable.

When To Install A Sump Pump

Simply put, a sump pump is needed when the inside of a house or a building receives consistent water damage, such as flooding or leaking. Luckily, there are some very clear warning signs that your home is in need of a sump pump. Installing one is never a bad idea for a homeowner, but homes and buildings that constantly deal with water damage after rainfall or snowmelt are in immediate need of a sump pump. Look for the following warning signs to help determine whether a sump pump is needed for your property.

Persistent Basement Moisture

One of the most obvious signs that you may need a sump pump is persistent moisture in your basement or crawl space. If you frequently notice dampness, puddles of water, or visible signs of water seepage, such as water stains or efflorescence on the walls, water is likely infiltrating your home's foundation. This moisture can lead to structural damage, rot, and mold growth if left unchecked. 

Frequent Basement Flooding

If your basement experiences flooding during heavy rainstorms or snowmelt, it's a clear indication that you need a sump pump. Basement flooding can result from various factors, including poor drainage around the foundation, high water tables, or inadequate waterproofing. Without proper drainage, excess water can seep into your basement, causing extensive damage to belongings, appliances, and structural components. 

Musty Odors & Mold Growth

Musty odors and mold growth are common signs of excess moisture in your home, indicating a conducive environment for mold and mildew to thrive. Mold not only poses health risks to occupants but can also cause structural deterioration and compromise indoor air quality. If you notice a persistent musty smell in your basement or observe mold growth on walls, floors, or ceilings, it's essential to address the underlying moisture issue promptly. A sump pump can help prevent moisture buildup by effectively draining water away from your home's foundation, reducing the risk of mold growth and associated health hazards.

Cracks In Basement Walls Or Floors

Cracks in basement walls or floors can indicate foundation issues resulting from hydrostatic pressure exerted by groundwater. When soil becomes saturated with water, it exerts pressure on the foundation walls, causing them to crack or bow inward. These cracks provide pathways for water to enter your basement, leading to leaks and potential flooding. Installing a sump pump can alleviate hydrostatic pressure by collecting excess water in the sump pit and pumping it away from the foundation, reducing the risk of structural damage and basement flooding caused by water infiltration.

High Water Table

A high water table refers to the level at which groundwater is present beneath the surface of the ground. Homes located in areas with high water tables are more susceptible to water infiltration and basement flooding, especially during periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt. If you live in an area with a high water table, it's essential to take proactive measures to protect your home from water damage, like installing a sump pump in your home’s basement. 

Where To Install A Sump Pump

Sump pumps should be installed at the lowest point of a basement, crawlspace, or any low-lying area of a building. Water seeps into sump pumps as it accumulates around the foundation and it seeps into designated pipes that feed into the sump pit where it can be pumped out. Installing the pump as low as possible and digging the pit underneath the foundation allows for efficient drainage of excess water that accumulates both around and underneath your home. If any of the following applies to your property, a sump pump should be installed:

  • Regions with frequent heavy rainfall or snowmelt
  • Areas prone to high water tables
  • Properties located in floodplains or near bodies of water
  • Homes built on clay soil or other soil types with poor drainage
  • Properties with basements or crawl spaces below the water table level
  • Buildings situated on slopes where water runoff collects near the foundation

Does Your Home Need A New Sump Pump?

Here in Louisiana, practically all homes would be a good candidate for a sump pump. With our heavy rainfall and constantly damp soil conditions, a sump pump in every home would provide an extra layer of protection from water intrusion and flood damage. All properties in Louisiana should include a reliable drainage system, so be sure to contact a professional to find out more about installing a sump pump or other drainage system for your home!