If there is flooding in your basement, your first priority should be to get rid of the water as soon as possible. A damp basement is often a precursor for basement structural issues and may also lead to the growth of black mold and mildew. To prevent these water issues, you can remove all the water flooding your basement using a sump pump. 


What is a sump pump?

A sump pump automatically removes water from the sump in your basement and discharges it outside where the soil grade slopes away from your home. 

The sump is a hole or pit in your basement that may or may not have a lid. The drain lines under the basement floor slightly slope to carry the excess water towards the sump. Natural water migration from the area under the basement or around the footings of your house may also cause your sump to fill up with water. 


How a sump pump removes water

A sump pump can detect when the water level is too high in your basement or in the soil around and under your basement. Water coming from your drain tile or excess water in your basement drains into the sump. Once the water reaches a certain level in the sump, it activates your sump pump, which then pumps the excess water outside to a drainage area. 


How sump pumps turn on automatically

Sump pumps can turn on automatically because they come with either a float ball or a pressure sensor that is connected to the on and off switch of the pump. The pipe that channels the water away from the pump and discharges it outside your home is called “effluent”. 


A float ball switch 

To understand how a ball float switch works, think about how the float in a toilet works. A tethered float switch has a hollow floating element connected to the switch of the sump pump with a cord. The floating element has to be hollow to allow it to float. 

There is a steel ball inside it that moves whenever water raises the ball float. When the water rises in the sump, the float also rises to the top extending the cord. This causes the ball to move downwards within the float coming into contact with the switch.

This activates the switch and the pumping begins. When the water level falls, the floating element reaches the bottom and the steel ball returns to its normal position. This turns off the switch.

You can adjust the length of the cord that connects the float to the pump to change the level range of the switch. Other types of float ball switches that operate differently from the tethered float switch include:


  • Vertical float switch
  • Diaphragm float switch
  • Electronic float switch 

One main issue with float ball switches is that they can get entangled between the pipes in the sump and fail to rise with the water. When that happens, the pump will not activate automatically. 


Pressure sensor switch

A pressure switch works as its name suggests. When the water pressure changes, it causes electrical contacts within the switch to open or close. If the open contacts close, they complete an electric circuit which causes the pump to turn on.

Pressure sensor switches have an adjustment screw. You can use this screw to adjust the pressure range to determine when the pump turns on or off. 

At Rock Solid Waterproofing, we will recommend the best type of sump pump switch for your home based on the size of your sump. We can also help you build and install a sump if your home does not have one. 


Types of sump pumps

There are submersible and upright (pedestal) sump pumps. You need to install a check valve in these pumps to stop water in the effluent pipe from flowing back into the sump when the pump is turned off. Remember that all sump pumps rely on electricity to work. This means you may need a battery backup to keep the pump working even when there is a power outage.


Submersible Pump 

A submersible pump is placed at the bottom of the sump. It has a ball float attached to it that automatically turns on the pump when the sump fills with water. These pumps are a better option for basement flooding.

The fact that both the pump and the motor of a submersible pump are submerged in water is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantages are that it can pump greater volumes of water compared to the pedestal pump and is quieter. But this may shorten its life expectancy.


Upright Pedestal Pumps

Unlike the submersible pump, only the pump of the pedestal sits at the bottom of the sump while the motor sits on top of the pedestal. Submersible pumps can also use float switches and they last almost 5 times longer than submersible pumps. 

The switch system is on the outside of the sump pit making this pump easier to maintain and repair. But they are less powerful than submersible pumps and may break down if particles and solids find their way into the pump. 


Do you need a sump pump?

If you are a homeowner that has experienced flooding in the basement or live in an area that frequently experiences heavy rain or extreme snow, you might need a sump pump. These pumps allow you to keep your basement free from extreme moisture that can cause your home’s foundation to crack and increase mold growth.


Need help installing a sump pump?

At Rock Solid Waterproofing, we have been helping homeowners to install sump pumps for many years. We not only provide waterproofing solutions but can also help you restore your basement and foundation back to looking exquisite. 

Contact us today for a free estimate.