Learn How a Sump Pump Works

Sump pumps are an essential part of any home’s plumbing system, particularly if your basement or crawl space is prone to flooding. They are designed to prevent water damage by pumping water away from your foundation and into a drainage system. Understanding how sump pumps work is essential for any homeowner, as it can help you make informed decisions about which sump pump to choose and how to maintain it.

In this blog post, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide on how a sump pump works.

What is a sump pump?

A sump pump is a device that is installed in the lowest part of a basement or crawl space to pump out excess water. It typically sits in a pit or sump basin, which is designed to collect water that seeps through the foundation or collects during heavy rainfall. The sump pump then pumps the water out and away from your home’s foundation, preventing water damage.

How does a sump pump work?

A sump pump operates on a simple mechanism that involves a float switch, motor, impeller, and discharge pipe.

  1. Float switch: The float switch is located in the sump pit and is designed to detect rising water levels. When the water level reaches a certain point, the float switch is activated, and the sump pump turns on.

  2. Motor: The motor is responsible for driving the impeller and pumping water out of the sump pit. It is usually an electric motor and can vary in horsepower depending on the size of the sump pump.

  3. Impeller: The impeller is a rotating component that creates a centrifugal force, which draws water into the sump pump and then pumps it out through the discharge pipe.

  4. Discharge pipe: The discharge pipe is a pipe that carries water away from your home’s foundation and into a drainage system, such as a storm drain or a dry well.

Types of sump pumps

There are two main types of sump pumps: submersible and pedestal.

Submersible sump pumps are designed to be submerged in water and are placed directly in the sump pit. They are generally more expensive than pedestal pumps but are also more efficient and quieter.

Pedestal sump pumps, on the other hand, are placed on a pedestal above the sump pit and are not submerged in water. They are generally less expensive than submersible pumps but are also less efficient and noisier.

Maintenance and troubleshooting

To ensure that your sump pump works properly, it is essential to maintain and troubleshoot it regularly. Here are a few maintenance tips and troubleshooting steps to follow:

  1. Regularly check the float switch to ensure that it moves freely and is not obstructed.

  2. Test the sump pump by pouring water into the sump pit and ensuring that it turns on and pumps water out.

  3. Clean the sump pit to remove any debris or sediment that may accumulate and clog the pump.

  4. Inspect the discharge pipe to ensure that it is not obstructed or damaged.

  5. Replace the sump pump every 7-10 years or when it shows signs of wear and tear, such as strange noises or decreased efficiency.


Understanding how a sump pump works is essential for any homeowner, particularly those living in flood-prone areas. By knowing how a sump pump works, you can make informed decisions about which type of pump to choose and how to maintain it. Regular maintenance and troubleshooting can help ensure that your sump pump works properly and prevents water damage to your home.