Sump Pump

How It Works

A sump pump is used to transfer water waste from the basement to the outdoors. A discharge pipe is connected to a low point in the basement - usually a drainage point called the “sump” - which carries water up and out with household current. A one-way check valve on the pipe makes sure that water never flows down into the basement. Most sump pumps are equipped with water level alarms to alert you when the pump is not working properly.

What Can Go Wrong?

The most common issue with sump pumps is a lack of power to the electric motor. This may occur during a power outage, and the pump will continue operation when power is restored. This temporary loss of power can be prevented with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).

When the sump pump runs infrequently in a moist environment, float operated control systems can corrode and stop working.

Electrical surges and intake of debris can overload the unit and cause the motor to fail. In this case, the unit usually needs to be replaced.

Environmental Impact

The electric draw of a sump pump depends on several factors: desired flow rate, size of the sump pump basin to be pumped, size of the discharge pipe and water pressure at the discharge head. The most common sizes installed in homes are one third to one half horsepower. A typical sump pump is rated at about 800 watts (W) when in normal operation with a surge rating of about 2,000 W. The typical annual energy use is less than a half kilowatt-hour (kWh), resulting in less than one pound of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

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