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By Marilyn Royce

A healthy water table high, or as it is also called groundwater level is necessary for maintaining a basement level with normal humidity.  If you have a higher groundwater level than your basement floor and find that the basement smells musty it’s possible that you need a covered sump pump to take care of this issue. A few other things to consider are dampness on carpets, an unpleasant smell in the basement and mold in drywall or insulation. If these are occurring, it’s time for an assessment and some remediation!

What a covered sump pump is?

A sump pump is a small pump that is located in your basement. It is sometimes powered by a submersible power unit that can be battery-powered or run off an electrical outlet. 

Its purpose is to remove excess water from the basement to prevent flooding and damage to your house, garage, and most importantly the foundation which may cause excessive settlement. 

Types of sump pumps

There are 2 main types of sump pumps: submersible and pedestal.

Submersible pump 

It is a kind of sump pump that is submerged in a regular water table. It takes in water from the basement and pumps it out to the cover drain. The submersible pump when submerged can allow water to flow out of your wall or tile pipe.

Pedestal pump 

It has 2 parts–the motor/pump combination and a base unit which attaches on top of your basement floor drain pipes. It attaches to your drain pipes in the basement and can be powered by an electrical outlet. Pumps placed on pedestals are beneficial because they also have a motor pump system with a float switch that prevents damage that could occur if water is allowed to back up in your drain pipes. 

Tips to selecting a sump pump

When you go shopping for a new sump pump it’s important to consider a few things. First, inspect your basement. Take note of water stains on the ceiling, wall and floor. The hardware company will want you to take pictures of your basement so they can tailor their design plan on how best to install the pump. 

A second thing is to determine if you need a submersible or pedestal pump by inspecting the way your current plumbing drains in your basement. If all the drains are 1″ standard, then you will need an electric powered pedestal submersible type of sump pump with 1″ pipes and fittings. However, if your drains are larger than 1″ then it’s possible that you will need a more powerful pump with more suction power that is capable of handling larger drain pipes. 

A third thing is to determine what type of discharge system you will need and select one according to the size of your basement. There are many different discharge options for a sump pump and it’s important to get the right one for your needs. 

The easiest and least expensive way to solve this problem is by placing PVC pipe in the basement floor drain lines after installing a sump pump. This will protect against back siphoning and will help direct the water outside or away from your house.

Signs that you need a sump pump

If you notice any of the following signs it’s time to consider installing a sump pump:

  • The lowest part of your foundation is where water collects in your basement. If this area is lower than the water table, you might need a sump pump;
  • Slow leak. Water can slowly seep into your basement. Sump pumps are necessary here too, although more careful inspections should be conducted before deciding to take action;
  • Failing floor drains are a sure sign that the sump pump needs replacement since it’s your only defense against flooding in case that happens. A sump pump will sometimes help you to identify what’s happening, even if there is still a leak; 
  • It’s also possible that water has seeped into the walls of your basement. A slow seepage problem like this suggests that your sump pump might not be able to handle it and will shut off per the manufacturer’s instructions before damaging your house or basement;
  • Low groundwater level may mean that your sump pump is no longer working as efficiently as it once did when it was installed and needs replacement. You need to measure the water level in your basement at least twice a month to gauge if you need a new sump pump.

So, do I need a sump pump?

If you live in an area that experiences flash flooding, or where the water table is very high and your basement is at risk of flooding even without a power failure or sump pump failure, it may be worth investing in a more advanced alarm system so you are alerted when there is any moisture on the floor.