In this article, we’ll be discussing sump pump functions and features. What does a sump pump do? Find out.

Water can gather at the low points of your basement and can cause a lot of damage. Luckily for us, someone was smart enough to invent the sump pump!

Over the years, it has been used to collect and channel water away from the basement and into the main sewer system. And most homeowners will agree that it is one of the most important devices as far as maintaining a dry basement is concerned.

If you don’t have a sump pump at home, and you’ll like to find out more about this wonderful device, then you should keep reading!

What Is A Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a device that is designed to pump out excess water from spaces. It is usually installed in the basement and it helps prevent internal flooding.

You may have asked yourself – how does a sump pump work in a basement?

Well, it’s not complicated at all. The pumps are placed at the deepest point of the ground, inside a specially dug pit. It is here they collect water and pump it away before the area gets flooded.

What Does A Sump Pump Look Like?

There are different models of sump pumps, but they carry pretty much the same features.

Below are the major features of a standard sump pump.

  • A plastic, metal, or concrete container forming a sump basin, about 2 feet (0.6 m) across and 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 1 m) deep, 15 to 25 U.S. gallons (60 to 100 liter) capacity
  • A sump pump, either 1/3 or 1/2 horsepower (200 or 400 W)

What Does A Sump Pump Do?

As we have already pointed out, a sump pump collects water and pumps it away from the basement and into the sewer system.

Let us discuss its functions in more detail.

  1. It Keeps the Basement or Crawlspace Dry

The major reason homeowners install sump pumps is to keep their basements dry and free of standing water.

  1. To Prevent Mold and Mildew

When your basement is dry, there is no way mold and mildew can develop.

Basement mold can only thrive in areas that have been ravaged by moisture, and there would be no such thing with a perfectly functioning sump pump.

Do not forget that mold can pose very serious health problems, which makes this one of the most important functions of a sump pump.

  1. To Alert the Homeowner When the Water Level Is Too High

Some high-tech sump pumps can alert the homeowner of excess water by messaging their smartphones. Some can even put a call through!

So if the owner isn’t at home at the moment, they can always call a plumber to go and check out the problem.

  1. To Add Value to the Home

When your basement is dry, there would be less moisture damage to your home. This will in turn increase the value of your property if you ever want to sell it.

  1. To Stabilize the Soil

Sump pumps that are installed in commercial buildings can help to stabilize the soil. Especially in areas where there are aquifers.

How Does A Sump Pump Work In A Basement?

When there is an accumulation of groundwater around your foundation, it trickles into the drain pipe and then into the sump pump basin. As the water rises, the sump pump will come on when the water reaches an excess level.

The pump’s pressure sensor will tell the machine when the sump pit has exceeded a specific level.

Mistakes During Use Of Sump Pumps

Your sump pump will function properly and give you the best results only if you use it the right way. Below are some mistakes in sump pump use you should avoid.

  1. Don’t let debris get into the pump

Ensure that your pump is not installed on top of any loose silt, small pieces of gravel, or any other form of debris.

If it does, then the chances of the pump sucking in debris will be increased and it will damage the machine.

Place the pump on large-sized gravel so it won’t be able to suck it up.

  1. Don’t choke the float switch

The float switch informs the sump pump motor to stop once the water level gets too low.

Because of this particular function, your sump pump will need to have lots of space around the float and switch for the arm to freely float and sink.

If there isn’t enough room or if there is some form of obstruction in the way, the float will likely cause the pump to malfunction, and this can burn the motor.

3. Mistakes with the check valve

The sump pump’s check valve creates a barricade that blocks water from flowing backward into the pump.

There should be an arrow printed around the check value, which shows in which direction the valve should be facing. Ensure that the arrow is pointing away from the sump pump.

  1. Failure to test your sump pump system

You may live in an area with minimal water problems, and your sump pump hasn’t needed to run for a while. That’s good, but ensure you test it now and then to make sure all is well with the system.

To run the test, all you have to do is pour some water into the basin and see how the machine will respond to it. If it functions the right way by pumping excess water away, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.

If it doesn’t function as it should, then the system may have become rusty due to long periods of inactivity. Call a repair person to come and look at it if need be.

  1. Failure to inspect the discharge pipes

Do you know that discharge pipes can get broken? Worse still, they may burst underground so you wouldn’t even know until you face the repercussions.

This is why you need to carry out regular checks on your pump’s discharge pipes to ensure they are in good condition.

For a better visibility, it is recommended that your discharge pipes be installed on the surface and not underground (if the situation permits).

This will make inspection much cheaper and easier.

  1. The pump is unplugged

As simple as this may sound, it has happened to a lot of people and has led to basement flooding. In this case, someone needs an outlet for something, then unplugs the pump, only to forget to plug it back in.

Anytime you’re in the basement, take a quick look to see if the pump is plugged in.

If need be, install extra power outlets in the basement so there will be more than enough plug-in options. This will keep everyone away from the sump pump’s outlet.

  1. Not checking for loose wiring in your system

Now and then, do a quick look around the pump’s wiring network and make sure everything is intact. You can do this during your regular maintenance checks.

To check the wiring, simply turn off the power to the pump at the source, then disconnect the pump. Check the pump and be on the lookout for any loose wires.

If you find any, then make sure you replace them accordingly. Now you can install the pump again, then restore power, and see if the pump works.

  1. Not paying attention to the sump pump motor

Paying attention to the sump pump motor while it’s on is something you need to do.

When the device is on, check to see if the pump is actually taking water away and not just running. If it isn’t pumping out any water, then some troubleshooting may be required.

It could be anything from a clogged water pipe to a stuck check valve. Some issues are minor and you don’t need any help fixing them.

  1. Not acknowledging the need for a professional

DIY enthusiasts are the ones who are most guilty of this act. They believe there’s nothing they can’t fix themselves.

And while it’s good to try your hands at fixes, there are some instances where you have no choice but to wave the white flag and call in a professional.

When you notice a fault with your pump, you can do the first inspection yourself. Check to see if it’s a minor issue before deciding to call a pro.

If you can’t figure it out yourself, then what other rational choice do you have?

Your sump pump isn’t a device you should joke with, as it can save your basement from flooding. If it ever develops a serious fault, then spend the extra bucks by calling a professional repair service to solve the problem for you.


A sump pump performs the task of eliminating standing water from your basement, and this will help keep it dry and free of harmful mold. It will also help to maintain the integrity of your building and keep it in good shape.

If you don’t already have one, then you should!

We trust this article on sump pump functions and features has been helpful.

Take care!

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