Sump Pumps

Ideally, a sump pump pit will be constructed as part of your basement, as well as a stub for a radon system, when the house was built. The cost to add one later by drilling or cutting through concrete is a fair amount of work.

You’ll need to keep a sealed, gasketed lid on the sump pit to keep out radon as well as moisture from your basement.

Sump Pump Details

Sump Basin

When buying a pump you’ll have to ensure it has enough capacity and that the sump pump basin is big enough for a submersible pump and for pumped stored water. The average basin measures 18 inches in diameter by 24 inches in depth and holds more than 20 gallons of water. Be careful about having a sump that is too deep: the pump will work 24 hours a day to pump if it fills with water.

Backup Pump

If you have a pump running constantly you may have a problem that needs fixing. Look at your gutters, your hardscapes and around your house and make sure water is being directed away from and not back at your home. If all is well, it may just be you have a high-water table and heavy rains bring on more water that your pump must deal with. If that’s the situation you’re in, you should get a backup pump that runs on a battery so that if you suffer a power failure, the backup will do the job. You’ll want a battery along with a charger that keeps your backup working for two days at least.

Professional Tip: Protect the end of the pipe with hardware cloth so animals cannot invade it. You can also finish the pipe in a pit of gravel or crushed stone. The other option is to drain the water in a rain garden or collect it in a barrel.


Make certain your sump sends the water to a point far enough away from your home that it doesn’t come back to your foundation. You’ll want the water discharged at least 10 feet away. We place a splash block at the site if there is a modest slope away from your foundation. If you live on a flat site, the discharge area should be further than 10 feet.


A minimum of once a year, before you’re hit by a heavy rain, put at least five gallons of water in your sump pit. If the pump quickly works, that’s good. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to get it running before you really need it to work.