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Most people have heard of a sump pump, but many are unfamiliar with what a sump pump is or why it is needed. Broadly speaking, a sump pump system is designed to collect water that would otherwise leak into the basement of a home and pump it away from the house. Consequently, sump pump systems are found in homes that are prone to basement flooding. With that background in mind, here are some terms you may hear when discussing sump pump systems:

Sump Pit

A sump pit is excavated into the ground below the basement by a sump pump installation contractor. Because saturated soil around the foundation and footings of the home are the cause of basement leaks, the goal of a sump pump excavation is to give the water a place to drain instead of saturating the soil surrounding the foundation and basement walls.

A sump pump installation contractor excavates the sump pit and installs a drainage system to direct water into the sump pit. The sump pit is usually lined with a sump basin made of plastic, metal, or concrete.

Pedestal Sump Pump

A pump is needed to remove the water from the sump basin. One type of sump pump that may be installed by local sump pump installation services is called a pedestal sump pump. A pedestal sump pump has an impeller that sits inside the sump basin to drive water into a drain system, but the motor driving the impeller sits outside the sump basin. The benefit of a pedestal sump pump is that the motor is accessible in the event that it needs to be serviced or replaced. Moreover, pedestal sump pumps tend to have a longer operational lifetime.

Submersible Sump Pump

The other type of sump pump that may be installed by a sump pump installation contractor is called a submersible sump pump. A submersible sump pump includes a waterproof housing that contains an impeller and motor. The entire pump is installed inside the sump basin. The benefit of a submersible sump pump is that the sump pump system is quieter and is designed to handle debris.

Drain System

The water that is pumped from the sump pit must go somewhere. A drain system moves the water away from the home where it cannot contribute to the saturation of soil surrounding the foundation that led to basement flooding in the first place. Typically, the drain system carries water upward from the basement and out through a wall above the ground level. The drain system then carries the water several feet away from the house.

Where a basement is retrofitted with a sump pump system, the sump pump installation contractor must take the final drainage point into account when placing the sump pit. For example, a sump pit that is located near the front of the house will often result in a drain system that is visible from the street.

Sump Pit Cover

A sump pit cover performs a simple function – cover the sump pit and sump basin – but it serves several purposes:

  • Reduces noise from a submersible sump pump
  • Prevents accidental falls into the sump pit, particularly by children
  • Blocks radon from entering the home through the sump pit

This last purpose is significant. Because the sump pit is excavated by sump pump installation contractors below the basement, and includes an inlet to carry water into the sump pit from the ground, radon gas from the ground can enter and accumulate in the sump pit. Covering the sump pit can prevent this radon from entering the basement. Passive systems like sump pit covers have been shown to be capable of reducing indoor radon levels by more than 50%.

Sump pump systems can be combined with more active radon mitigation, such as ventilation fans, to reduce radon levels even further. For example, sump pits can double as radon collection chambers. Conduit and a radon mitigation fan can draw air containing radon gas from the sump pit, reducing radon levels in the basement.

Sump pump systems can provide a solution to basement flooding. This helps to reduce interior moisture that can lead to mold growth and water damage. Importantly, a sump pit can also form part of a radon mitigation system by collecting radon gas that can be forced outside the home with a radon mitigation fan.