If you live along any waterway or in areas that receive frequent rainfall, you may be one of the millions of Americans who live in areas that flood. Even if you don’t live in an area officially designated as a flood plain, your home, particularly if you have a basement, may experience damaging flooding from recurrent rains, snow melt, water penetration from leaky foundations, or other issues.

Besides being inconvenient, water damage is more common — and more costly — than you might believe.

Check out these figures:

  • In the U.S., about 14,000 people have water damage emergencies in their homes or workplaces every day
  • During their lifespans, 98% of basements will experience some water damage
  • Over a third of U.S. homeowners have suffered water damage-related losses
  • The average cost of an insurance claim for property loss due to water damage is about $7,000—and repairs are usually not covered

Those are some compelling — and frightening — numbers. Fortunately, protecting your home from water damage and mold overgrowth is made easier with the addition of a sump pump.

What is a Sump Pump?

Sump pumps are mechanical pumps that are placed in a sump pit, which is a basin below the surface of your basement floor. When water begins to fill the basin, the pump will turn on and begin to pump water outside your home where it can drain properly away from the home’s foundation.

These pumps have been around since the mid-1940s, but there are several things to know before you choose one for your home.

What You Need to Know About Sump Pumps — Before You Buy One

The large majority of sump pumps are classified as submersible pumps.

Submersible pumps sit in a sump basin that is located below the surface of the basement floor. Water entering the basement flows into this pit and triggers a sensor on the pump when it reaches a predetermined level.

Once the pump is triggered, it pumps water outside your home via a series of pipes. Sounds fairly simple, right? But there are several other variables to consider when choosing the right sump pump for your home.

These include:

Pumping Capacity

While horsepower certainly is a factor in determining how much water can be moved using the pump, it isn’t the only factor in establishing pumping capacity. Much in the same way a car with a V6 engine can offer more power than a V8 depending on other variables, a lower horsepower sump pump with a more efficient design can offer more pumping capacity than a larger pump.

Each pump will have specifications that show a performance curve for gallons per minute (GPM) and recommended usage, all of which can vary among manufacturers.

Sump Basin/Pit

Your basin should be sized and designed correctly. Smaller basins can cause the pump to work harder and turn on more often, so your basin and pump should be sized to work well with one another.

Some basins feature a sealed lid to prevent noise and moisture from entering the home and to keep children and pets from falling in.

Discharge Line

A sump pump discharge line carries the water from the pump to a drainage area outside of your home. They are generally installed straight upwards from your sump basin for about 10 feet before leveling out with the landscape. Your discharge line must be sized properly to move all the water discharged by the pump, or your sump pump will be inefficient.

A one-way check valve should be installed in the discharge line to prevent water from flowing back into the pump. And after the discharge line is run to the outside, it should be positioned downhill to prevent water from flowing back towards the foundation.

Core Materials

Durability is key with sump pumps, which can be designed from a wide array of materials. For example, impellers that draw water into the pump can be stainless steel or plastic, with stainless steel being more durable.

The exterior of your pump can be stainless steel, plastic, or cast iron. Stainless steel is anti-corrosive and heavy-duty cast iron can help distribute heat from the motor, while high-grade plastics have the ability to resist wear.


Switches for sump pumps can be either manual or digital. Manual pumps feature a float that rises with incoming water, flipping the switch at a specific level and turning it off when the level drops below that level again. The floats are installed on a tether hanging next to the pump or a rod below the pump, which can cause them to get hung up on the pump and malfunction.

A digital switch, mounted inside the pump basin, features both on and off sensors that are triggered as water rises or falls.

Silent Check Valve

Sump pumps include a check valve that opens when water feeds into the discharge pipe and closes when the pump is shut off. Conventional valves are noisy, as the backflow of the water can slam them shut when the pump shuts down.

Silent check valves control noise by using a spring-controlled rate of closing that prevents backflow slamming.

High Water Alarm

High water alarms can help you detect potential flooding so you can act before costly water damage occurs. Some alarms can detect as little as 1/32” of water, giving you the earliest notice that water is backing up in your basin and potentially about to overflow. Choose an alarm that is at least 110 dB so you can hear it throughout your home.

Battery Backup

While most pumps are powered by electricity, energy-saving pumps with battery backups offer two conveniences — savings on electricity and protection during a power outage or failure of your primary pump.

Keep Your Home Protected with a Sump Pump from Atlas

Outside of your family, your house is probably your most valuable asset. Protect both with a high-efficiency sump pump from Atlas. Our experts can help you determine the right pump and configuration for your specific needs and budget, ensuring that you have the maximum possible protection against water damage from flooding. Call us at 847-415-9600 or visit us at AtlasRestoration.com