Basement Sump Design- What to Look For

A basement sump design, to work properly, operates by efficiently keeping water from building up and overflowing your basement with rainwater. Basically, a sump consists of a manufactured basin in the floor of a basement.

A basement sump design includes construction of the basin from materials such as clay, concrete, tiles, steel, fiberglass, and/or polyethylene. The typical sump basin is about a foot-and-a-half wide in diameter and goes down to a depth of two or three feet. When considering designs, make sure the sump has been located at the lowest point of the basement floor and that it includes a sturdy cover.


Often, in regions where rain is plentiful, a sump discharges water away from the walls and floors by the use of a built-in pump. These pumps disperse built up water so that basements do not become groundwater-holding areas that can spell disaster for foundations as well as being unhealthy, unsightly, and uncomfortable.

In other areas, including a pump as part of a basement sump design is not at all necessary. Arid, desert-like conditions preclude the necessity of pumping water since very little water accumulates in basements built where these conditions exist. In these situations, it would be a waste of money and time to include a pump into the sump system.

When pumps are included in a basement sump design, they operate by the use of a float. When groundwater fills the basin and reaches a certain level, it causes the pump to switch on.

Manual pumps are available, but most people opt for those that activate automatically. Electric pumps, by far the most popular, operate on household current. If you live in an area with frequent power outages such as occur during heavy storms, you might want to consider having a battery-operated back-up pump installed to prevent flooding in your basement.

Sump Maintenance

Even with a good basement sump design, you need to know that sumps must periodically be cleaned out. In soils that contain a lot of sand or gravel for instance, cleaning out the sump system may mean a yearly chore, while in other areas, you may be able to get away with cleaning the system every four or five years. Not cleaning the sump can cause the pump to jam and burn out completely, ruining it. So it is a good idea to at least check the system yearly to avoid possible problems.

Leave It to the Pros

A good, working basement sump design is imperative for many homeowners. Unless you really know what you are doing, it is best to hire a professional for this critical piece of home building and maintenance. Just make sure you get what you pay for and that the system you are considering works well for your particular situation. Educate yourself as much as possible before you buy, ask questions, and above all, check references. Get second, third, and fourth opinions, if possible, to find the right person or company who can do the job right and at a fair price. It pays to be cautious and well informed.

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