This article is for anyone who has never owned a home with a sump pump, for anyone who has never heard of a sump pump and for those new homeowners who find that the home they just bought here in the Atlanta, Ga. area has something called a sump pump.
We're here to help you sort out what a sump pump is and why your home has it and if you don't have one, why you might consider getting one.
Let's first assure you that sump pumps are not necessarily an absolute "must have" in every Georgia home. It's basically a piece of equipment that can help to prevent flooding in a lower level floor like a basement. So, you may never actually use a sump pump but if you live in an area that is near a water table or your home is at a lower level than your street (many homes in Georgia have driveways that go down from the street to the garage) then your lower level or basement may be susceptible to flooding.
That's where having a sump pump will help. It works to remove water and deposit it into a pit which is a hole normally made in the basement level.
It's a great piece of equipment that acts as "insurance" to protect your home.
An amendement to the U.S. Federal Clean Water Act in 1987 now requires that all new homes have a sump pump, even if they are not at risk for flooding.
The Details On What A Sump Pump Is
If you have never seen a sump pump, you may be imagining that it is a very large piece of machinery, like a big generator. But the truth is, they are around 2 feet in height and less than that in width. They are often buried in a hole (aka pit) in the basement or crawlspace floor. The chosen location should be the lowest part of the surrounding space.
A typical pit is about 30 inches deep and about 24 inches across. About the size of a 5 gallon bucket. So, it's not a large intrusion in your home environment.
A second type of sump pump is a pedestal pump. This type sits on top of the pit (instead of inside the pit). It's less expensive to install BUT it's also louder when it's running.
A sump pump begins to work when it detects water under the floor surface. The water flows into the pit which then triggers the sump pump to turn on and it's job then is to re-direct the water away from the building.
Sump pumps are often (but not necessarily) powered by electricity. The ones that do use a standard household current so there's no special wiring that needs to be installed.
Pumps that don't use electricity are called "water pumps". These units use your home's water pressure - no batteries or electricity needed. It can work independently or with an electric sump pump. Most homeowners use a water pump as a backup unit.
What To Look For When Buying A Sump Pump
If you are in the market to purchase a sump pump or simply want to replace and/or update the one you currently have, there are a few things to consider:
- There are manual and automatic pumps available. Obviously, automatic are a bit more expensive but far more convenient as you do not need to be home for the pump to automatically begin working when it's most needed
- Sump pumps typically range from 1/4 HP (horsepower) to 1 HP. We recommend you talk to your plumber about which best model of pump would work for your home.
- Different pumps have different "head pressures". This is the height that a pump can raise water. Remember, the pump pulls water away from the building so if it has to push the water uphill, you want to make sure that it can do that. If it has to push the water 2 feet up or 12 feet up - you want to purchase the pump that can handle that load.
- An item often overlooked is the length of the electrical cord. You do not want to use an extension cord so you want a sump pump that has a cord long enough that you can plug it in directly into a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) directly.
- Backup / Alarms - purchase a pump that has an alarm notification system that suits your home and lifestyle. These are often small units mounted on the wall near the pump.
If you are a very handy type of person and you want to tackle installing a sump pump - of course you can certainly do that. But if you have any reservations about the project, we recommend you contact professional plumbers to do the job for you.
Sump Pump Maintenance Tips
Even if you do not install it yourself, the one job you are responsible for is the maintenance of the sump pump. Like any other appliance in your home - there is maintenance involved.
We recommend that you use the handy list below to check your pump at least every 6 months.
Sump Pump Maintenance Checklist
- Check the plug - Sump pumps should be plugged in to a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet. There are times that the GFCI breaker will trip (especially if the area is damp) so check to make sure it is still on, if not, reset it.
- Positioning - If you have a free-standing sump pump (some are inground) then you want to make sure that it hasn't fallen over due to some vibrations either within the home or within the sump pump itself.
- Test It Out - Pour a bucket of water into the pit which should then make the unit automatically turn on. If the pump doesn't start, then you know it needs to be serviced.
- Cleaning - Remove the submerisible pump from the pit and clean out the grate which is located at the bottom of the unit. Oftentimes small stones and other debris can get caught in that grate and block the flow or damage the pump over time.
- Check for Odor - If you smell a nasty odor it may be that water is not flowing from the trap to the basin. The solution is to add 1 cup of bleach to a gallon of water and then pour that combination into the trap.
If you notice any problems with the unit, contact your plumber.
So, do you "need" a sump pump? If you're in a new house - you will already have one and you are fortunate to have one. In these days where weather is more and more unpredictable - a sump pump is a wonderful safeguard to have in your home.
If you have an older house and are considering adding a sump pump - we highly recommend it. The cost of purchasing and installing a sump pump unit pales in comparison to the cost and problems that come with the kind of damage that can occur due to any situation that causes excess water in your home.
If you have any questions about sump pumps - call the experts at Atlantis Plumbing today at 770-505-8570.
We Offer Sump Pump Services in Metro Atlanta and Surrounding Areas
Fulton County, Bartow County, Cobb County, Paulding County, Cherokee County, Gwinnett County, and Douglas County.
Acworth GA, Atlanta GA, Austell GA, Cartersville GA, Doraville GA, Douglasville GA, Hiram GA, Kennesaw GA, Lawrenceville GA, Lithia Springs GA, Loganville GA, Mableton GA, Marietta GA, Powder Springs GA, Rockmart GA, Roswell GA, Smyrna GA, Tucker GA, Villa Rica GA, Vinings GA, Woodstock GA, and Surrounding Communities.