How to Use a Sump Pump to Drain Basement : A to Z Guide

How To Use A Sump Pump To Drain Basement

A sump pump is a device that pumps water from a low point in your house, usually the basement or crawl space, to an outside drain. They are used primarily as a safeguard against flooding and can be either electric or manual.

You are probably considering installing a sump pump in your basement, so you might have some questions on how it works and the process of the installation itself. Let’s take a look at how do we utilize a sump pump to drain a basement?

How to Use a Sump Pump to Drain Basement in Steps?

Here's How to Use a Sump Pump to Drain Basement

There are two parts to a sump pump: the pump and the basin. The sump basin is where water accumulates, and it is often set up in the lowest point of your basement or crawl space.

French drains are used in almost every basement and crawlspace to drain away excess water. By doing the following steps, you will understand how to use a sump pump to drain the basement.

01. Determine Where to Place Your Sump Pump Pit

The first step is to determine the location of your sump pump pit. You want it in a low spot on your basement floor within 6 feet of an outside water source, such as a utility sink or main drain pipe.

If you’re not sure where this is, just remember that if you have water coming in through your basement flooding walls, or leaking from the floor above, it will naturally run down to this low spot.

02. Set the Depth of Your Sump Pump Pit

Once you have determined where you want to put your sump pit, mark it out with a permanent marker. After that, determine how deep the water will get in the event of a flood.

This can be done by measuring between your lowest point of water coming into the basement, and the top of your sump pump’s discharge pipe. Subtract 6 inches from that measurement to determine your sump pit depth.

03. Dig a Hole in the Basement Floor for Your Sump Pump

You will need a spade or shovel, a small pry bar, and a 4-foot level. Start digging at one of the perimeter walls of your sump pit location.

When you have dug down to the proper depth for your pump, use the bottle jack from your car to support the bottom. Once you have installed the new PVC discharge pipe from the pump, you can place your pump in the pit.

04. Install a Drainage System

Before placing your sump pump or ejector pump in the hole, make sure to install a drainage system from the pit to an outside point of discharge: usually a sink, floor drain, or similar fixture. Simply attach a 4-inch PVC adapter fitting to the back of the pump and run a 4-inch PVC pipe to an exterior point. French drain systems are also popular for this application.

05. Make Sure Your Sump Pump Works

Once you have placed your sump pump in the pit, make sure it is level by using your car’s bottle jack to raise or lower the bottom of the pump until it is even all around. Then, attach your PVC discharge pipe to the pump outlet.

It should be a fairly direct route out of the pit to the point of discharge. Finally, turn on the power and test the system to make sure it works properly. For this process, you can use either direct power or a generator. It can be tricky to find the best generator for sump pump that fits your needs.

06. Considerations for Dry-Out

In some cases, you may have to pump water out of low areas in your basement for a period of time until the ground outside your home is sufficiently dry.

In this instance, you can use a sump pump with a larger “dry-well” or an extended discharge pipe that will slow down the rate at which the pit fills up after activating the pump.

The Elements of Needed

The Elements of Needed
  • Waterproof coating
  • Tubing
  • Water hose clips
  • A bucket
  • Battery-powered drill (optional)
  • Waterproof gloves
  • A drop cloth or plastic sheeting
  • A spade or shovel
  • A wrench or adjustable wrench
  • A hose clamp (optional)

Most Common Reasons to Use a Sump Pump in a Basement

Most Common Reasons to Use a Sump Pump in a Basement
  • Flooded basement
  • High water table
  • Downspouts or gutters
  • Building on a hillside
  • Smelly crawlspace
  • Poor drainage
  • High levels of underground moisture

Types of Sump Pumps

Types of Sump Pumps

There are several types of sump pumps available on the market. It is important to choose the right one for your needs and sump pump installation requirements, as well as local building codes. Here’s a list of different sump pump types:

  • Submersible Sump Pump
  • Pedestal Sump Pump
  • Dry-Pit Sump Pump
  • Battery Back-up Sump Pump
  • Trash/Septic Sump Pump

Precautions for the Safe Use of a Sump Pump

There are a number of precautions you should take when using a sump pump:

i) Make sure to keep your sump pump pit clean and free of debris. This will prevent the pump from getting clogged, which could cause it to overheat or fail.

ii) A backup battery can be used for those times when electrical power is not available to a sump pump. However, a battery or a backup sump pump should only be used in an emergency situation, and they will eventually need to be replaced.

iii) Installing a drainpipe from the sump pit to a nearby sink or floor drain is possible. In this case, internal piping can then lead from this pipe to the back of the submersible pump outlet.

iv) Do not place the sump pump pit near a washing machine or laundry sink, as these will often cause problems with noise and vibration.

v) Place the sump pit well away from your home’s perimeter foundation walls. This will help to reduce vibrations that could otherwise affect surrounding structures.

vi) Make sure all discharge pipes are in good condition and well-secured in a sump pit. Leakage could cause damage to surrounding areas if water is not removed properly from the premises.

vii) Some sump pumps have a float mechanism that can be attached to the side of the pump. If water is allowed to flow over this device, it will activate your pump.

viii) Avoid using an extension cord on your sump pump if possible. The added length may cause an unbalanced current draw and the risk of an electrical fire.

Note: When you are done using your sump pump, make sure to cover the hole with its lid to prevent any debris from falling in and obstructing the mechanism of the pump. This can be done with either a pre-fabricated type if available or simply a piece of plywood.


Now that you know the basic steps on how to use a sump pump to drain the basement, you can now properly install one. By doing this, it is more likely for the water level in the basement to be reduced to a more manageable level.

How to Use a Sump Pump to Drain Basement : A to Z Guide
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