How do Sump Pumps Work?

A sump pump is a system designed to prevent water from accumulating in basements or low crawl spaces. Avoiding such water build-up protects buildings from flooding, erosion and excessive molds. The presence of a sump pump can reduce insurance rates in addition to offering protection against some sources of water damage. This is how they work.

The Pump

Sump systems typically use a centrifugal pump for moving the water. These pumps use a motor to spin a fan or screw that will rapidly rotate the accumulated water. Aptly named, the pump will use the generated centrifugal force to push the water against the side-wall of the pump and out through the connected pipe. Usually fitted with a one-way valve, the pipe will carry the water to a place where the water can run safely away from the building’s foundation.


In order for the pump to have access to the undesired water, it has to be stored in the lowest sub region of the building it protects. Beyond this, the pump typically will have its own pit, putting it at the lowest possible point. Typically a gravel lined hole measuring about two feet deep and 18 inches wide, the pit will enable any excess water to drain straight to the pump, which will activate either through a float arm or a pressure sensor. The pressure sensor works when the water exerts more pressure on the switch than air does. The float arm attaches a lever to a buoyant “float”. When the float rises high enough from the water, the arm will activate the pump.

Electrical Safety

Home use sump pumps are typically electrically powered. Because they operate in salinated water, safety precautions are very important to prevent electrocution. A proper ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) can be installed on the outlet to mitigate shock risks. Alternatively a pedestal pump can also avoid electrical accidents. This design raises the pump above the water line of the pit. A pipe stretches from the pump to the water, negating the need to have electrical parts submerged. These pumps typically require more power and are louder as a result. Even so, they tend to be less expensive because they do not require any electrical shielding.

For any building with open space near the foundation, a sump pump is an important preventative care measure. As expensive as water damage can be, the costs of potential disaster easily outweigh those of the pump. Visit this website to find a commercial plumber in Vista to install a sump pump.


About bobsandersca

Bob has over 20 years of experience as a plumbing and fitting specialist.
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