How to Install a Sump Pump?

The installation of a sump pump in a residential basement space is relatively straight forward.

  • Location / the location of the sump pump should be in the corner of the basement if at all possible. This will allow the use of the remainder of the basement without hampering the access to the sump pump, and will allow an easier pumping of the discharge, to either the sanitary sewer line of the home, or a separate discharge to the exterior of the structure.
  • Additional drainage trenching and piping to the sump pump location. Normally the best operation for a sump pump is based on a system of drainage lines that route the water to the sump pump location. This is normally accomplished by the installation of drainage lines in a grid pattern within the basement. In some cases, the perimeter of the basement is lined with drainage piping that discharges into the sump and intercepts any water that might be flowing under the perimeter footings, before it migrates to the interior of the basement.
  • The concrete floor slab is cut with a concrete saw that can be rented from the local equipment rental outlet. Highly recommended is a saw that has a water attachment capability to reduce dust and air borne particles during the sawing operation. Sawing concrete can be both dangerous and extremely dusty.   Safety equipment as well as a water attachment to the saw will make the work much safer and more pleasant.
  • The opening in the concrete slab or whatever makes up your basement floor should be calculated by the type and size of the sump pump you are purchasing. In most cases the pump is controlled by a floatation type switching system that will allow the accumulation of water in the sump prior, to the activation of the pump. The capacity of the sump, together with the size of the pump, are used to calculate the size of the sump pit necessary for proper functioning of the sump pump system.
  • If the opportunity is available, the quantity of water that is draining into the sump pit on a daily basis is great information to have. I would suggest that during the rainy season of the year, and this is totally dependent upon the location of the property, the following test is made.


TEST : Open an area in the slab, approximate size of two feet by two feet, three feet deep. This will be ample space for a five gallon pail to be placed. Do not perforate the pail for this test. Do not be confused by the many installations that instruct you to install a five gallon pail that you have drilled drainage holes in.   We need a controlled volume to measure the amount of water draining into this initial sump. Place the pail in the hole that you have made in the basement slab and excavated down into the sub-base. If your hole is three feet deep the top of the pail should be approximately eighteen inches below the bottom of the floor slab. This will allow any water that is flowing under the slab, and could be close enough to the surface to cause an issue, to flow into the pail. Monitor the accumulation of water.

Based upon the information obtained, the amount of water per hour can be calculated. The sizing of a sump for a pump with a flotation type control system is based on the amount of water pumped per minute in gallons and the time sequence of the operation. The pump should not cycle too quickly nor should it be allowed to run for too long due to an excess of quantity accumulation within the sump prior to activation of the pump. The pump supplier will be capable of identifying the proper cycling timing as well as the size pump you will require.

  • The safe electrical connection for the pump and floatation control system is extremely important. I suggest the use of a licensed electrician that can easily be found by goggling area websites for recommendations. Due to the proximity of the water, the grounding and safety requirements are extremely critical to minimize any shock potential.
  • The discharge of the pump can either be piped into the sanitary line exiting the structure, the roof rain water drains, or hard piped out to the exterior of the property.

The proper selection of sump, pump and flotation system should alleviate your basement moisture or water issues. There are several companies that specialize in the installation of this type of system and will warranty the installation. The companies that specialize in this installation, have procedures to eliminate dust, remove the excavated material from the basement, distribute new concrete into the basement area, connect all electrical and plumbing work in a professional and licensed fashion. In addition these companies will understand any of the permitting required to properly and legally install this type of system.

The sump, pump and sump pump, are all key elements to a proper basement de-watering system, and the more you understand the processes and equipment involved, the better you will be prepared to either install the system yourself, or hire a professional to dry – up your basement.

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