Replacing sump pumps isn’t the most difficult thing to do. However, you should purchase a new one before your old one gives out, leaving you high and not very dry. The best time to replace a broken sump pump is before the next anticipated big storm. Replacing your sump pump after the next storm could leave you with a headache no aspirin can tackle, so be prepared.
If you notice that your sump pump isn’t starting up when the water level rises – or if your pump is more than ten years old – do not wait to install a new one. There are a few things to consider when replacing your existing sump pump. Here are some helpful tips to guide you through the DIY process.
Choosing a Sump Pump
If your sump pump efficiently tackled your drainage needs before breaking down, the easiest thing to do is to replace it with a similar sump pump. A submersible pump rests in a hole cut into the floor of your crawlspace or basement as part of your French drain system. The pump’s motor rests in a sealed, waterproof casing. When the water surrounding the pump rises to a pre-set level, the pump powers on and flushes water out through the pre-installed French drain system. The water is then guided outside and away from your house.
However, a pedestal pump sets the motor on a stand a few feet above the water level. With this type of sump pump, only the impeller – what pushes the water – is located inside the pit of your drain system. The general consensus with pedestal pumps is that because the motor stays fairly dry above water level, it should last longer. Quality submersible pumps, however, typically outlast pedestal pumps. This is due to the materials used to create each type of pump. Higher-quality submersible pumps are made out of cast iron, while the majority of pedestal pumps are made of plastic.
The standard sump pump contains a 1/3-horsepower motor, powerful enough to remove up to 2,200 gallons of water per hour. This motor is powerful enough for the common household. However, if your pump will need to move the water up at least ten feet of vertical piping to flush the water outside and away from your house, you should consider a ½-horsepower model. These pumps have the capability to remove up to 3,000 gallons of water an hour and can easily handle your pumping needs. If you want the most “bang for your buck,” there are 3/4-horsepower pumps available which can remove 5,000 gallons of water an hour, though most households do not have a need for these high-powered machines.
As flood-causing storms are also capable of causing a power outage in your neighborhood, your sump pump could become entirely useless right when you need it unless you install a backup system. There are two main types of backup system options you can employ: a backup battery and a second sump pump.
A backup battery should include a rechargeable battery pack that keeps your sump pump running effortlessly, even in the event of a blackout. Some newer sump pumps come with a built-in backup battery system as a precaution to potential power outages. If your pump does not have this convenient feature, however, it would be best to be prepared for the worst.
A battery-powered sump pump is another option for you to utilize as a backup system. About as powerful as the main pump, this second sump pump has a few advantages over going with a battery backup. Not only will the second pump power on during a power outage, but it will also provide assistance during an extreme flood, and will provide you with all the pumping power you’ll need if your primary sump pump does break down.
These backup system options will both power on whenever you experience a power outage and each will give you up to 10 hours of use on a single charge. Another alternative backup option is the water-powered backup. This system eliminates the battery and second motor, receiving its power from your water main. A water-powered system uses the pressure in your basement or crawlspace’s water line to create a vacuum effect which removes water from the pit.
The system cannot run out of power like a battery system or a secondary pump, though it is important to note that a water-powered system typically can move only 1,500 gallons of water per hour. These systems also discharge tap water as well as the floodwater, and if you have a well on your property, this system will not be an option for you, as there is no water pressure during power outages.
Removing your Old Pump
Once you have chosen your new sump pump, you’re ready to get to work and install your new system. Here are some easy-to-follow steps to help you remove your old sump pump from its pit.
- Unplug the sump pump.
- Identify how the pump is located in the pit. It would also help you to take a set of photographs of the pump’s set up to assist you with the installation of your new pump.
- Find where your discharge pipe is coupled together (most have a check valve that acts as a coupler). This is either screwed into a section of the discharge pipe or clamped over a rubber coupling. Loosen the valve, and be prepared for water to flow from the top of the discharge pipe.
- After the water has been drained from the discharge pipe, pick it up from the bottom and carefully lift it. The discharge pipe is attached to your old sump pump. Make sure not to damage the float switch as you remove the discharge pipe from the pit.
- Place the old sump pump in a bucket to collect any water that might remain in the pump.
- Check the bottom of the pit, removing any sludge, rocks, and anything else that might be in the pit. Your goal is to remove any obstructions that could cause your new pump to fail.
- Unscrew the discharge pipe from the old sump pump adapter. It will be very tight, which can be caused by the discharge pipe’s air lock hole being blocked or dirty. If your discharge pipe is unusually tight, try to clear the air lock hole before unscrewing your discharge pipe.
Installing your New Pump
With your old sump pump removed from its pit, and having cleared the pit of any debris, you’re ready to move onto the final stage: installation. Follow these steps to ensure a successful sump pump installation.
- Level your new sump pump. You will want to make sure the new pump sits level in the pit. Use plastic or composite shims as needed to ensure your pump is level.
- Connect the discharge line. You can either reuse the old piece of discharge line from your old pump, or you can cut a new piece of discharge line.
- Install a check valve. The check valve will prevent water from flowing from the discharge line back into your pump when it turns off. This will reduce the change of flooding and improve the lifespan of your new sump pump.
- Connect the outlet pipe to the main discharge line. Tighten the union or install a rubber fitting and tighten the hose clamps to ensure your outlet pipe is installed properly.
- Turn on the electricity. Plug the pump’s cord into a grounded outlet. Then, text the pump by filling the pit with water until the pump activates.
Rachael Jones is a Staff Writer for DIYMother.