Buying a house is a big commitment and you want to make sure you’re making the best choice for your family.
Obviously there are many things to consider when picking the right house and it can be overwhelming at times. One thing you may question is: Should I buy a house with a sump pump?
In this article we’ll discuss basic information, misconceptions, and common questions regarding sump pumps. After reading this you should feel more comfortable in your decision to purchase a house with a sump pump in it.
Table of Contents
What is a sump pump?
A sump pump is intended to move water from your basement to the outside. Ideally, all water should be drained at least 10-20 feet from your foundation in order to ensure it does not immediately seep back into the basement. There are two main types of sump pumps – submersible and pedestal.
These styles are similar in overall functionality, but differ slightly in their mechanics, noise level, and life span. Both start with a pit cut into the floor of your basement (called the ‘basin’).
With submersible, the pump and motor sit directly inside the basin. For a pedestal style, the pump is still submerged but the motor sits outside of the basin. On the pump are valves that sense rising water levels and then activate in order to discharge water up and away from your residence.
The overall lifespan of a pedestal style pump is 2-5 times longer than a submersible, but conversely they can be much louder and intrusive if placed near a living space.
Is a sump pump necessary?
Not all residences are equipped with sump pumps, nor do they need to be.
There are certain geographical areas where sump pumps are more necessary than others. When considering the necessity of a sump pump in a home, some of the questions to ask are:
- Is the house in or near a floodplain? Does the area receive higher than average annual rain levels?
- Is the house on a low lying or flat plot with poor drainage?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions it’s likely necessary or beneficial for the home to have a sump pump installed. Another thing to consider when determining necessity is if your basement is finished or used to store items.
If either of those are true, consider the pump to be a sort of insurance policy when it comes to protecting your investments and property against the possibility of water damage.
Is it ok to buy a house with a sump pump?
If you consider that more than 60% of houses in the US experience some sort of flooding or moisture issue, then buying a house with a sump pump is not only smart but can potentially save you money in the long run.
If a house needs a sump pump and has one installed, it should definitely be seen as a positive rather than a negative. As a homebuyer, seeing that an issue has been addressed and dealt with appropriately far outweighs any possible negative connotations of the pump itself.
With that being said, if you’re considering buying a house with a sump pump in it, it’s still important to ask the reason for pump installation, age and condition of the pump, and about moisture issues prior to and after the pump being installed.
Asking these questions now and being well informed should help make you feel more confident when buying a house with a sump pump.
How long should a sump pump last?
The average lifespan for a sump pump is around 10 years, but multiple factors can contribute to this period being longer or shorter.
Some things to consider are: how frequent the pump runs, length of pump run-time, and amount of water being pumped. A pump running frequently, for long periods of time, and pushing out high volumes of water is less likely to make it to the 10 year mark than one that runs less frequently and pushes low volumes of water.
To be safe, experts recommend inspecting the pump regularly and beginning to watch for signs of wear or failure around the 7 year mark. By doing this, you can save yourself the headache of a failed pump and a flooded basement.
Should there be water in my sump pump pit?
Having approximately 2-3 inches of water in the bottom of your sump pump pit at all times is not only normal but also beneficial to the mechanics of the pump itself.
If pits are empty for extended periods of time, this is when seals begin to dry out and crack. With that, comes the increased likelihood of pump malfunction or even failure.
One thing to consider when looking at the water level in your sump pit is where it is in relation to the inlet water pipe (the pipe that brings the water into the basin from the drain tiles).
Levels should routinely be below the bottom of this pipe to insure the highest level of functionality and performance of the pump.
Sump pump runs every 30 seconds?
As a homeowner, it can be concerning to hear your sump pump running every 30 seconds and you may start to question whether or not that’s normal.
Before you panic, here are some easy things to consider.
First and foremost look at the weather. Has it been raining heavily or for an extended period of time?
Have temperatures been higher with increased snow melt?
All of these things can cause increased water flow into your sump pump pit and thus, increased activation of the pump. If the change is caused by something temporary like the weather, you can consider the increase in run-time a positive in that the pump is running as it’s designed to.
If weather doesn’t seem to be a factor, you may need to consider looking in the pit at the pump itself. One of the first things to look at is the check valve. The check valve essentially stops the water that is being pumped out of the pit from flowing back in once the pump turns off.
If the check valve is faulty, water that was pumped out could be allowed to flow back in causing the pit to fill up faster and the pump to run more often than it should.
Another common issue is a stuck float switch. The solution to this is easy, as it generally just involves finding whatever is causing the float to stick (did the pump move and force the float into the on position? Did the float switch get stuck on something or is there debris jamming it up?).
How many sump pumps do I need?
The amount of sump pumps a house needs can vary based on things such as location, geographical features, and size of the house.
You’ll find that some houses can have two sump pumps and this can be from a combination of different factors. When considering this, you should look at the area of drainage, depth to groundwater, and depth of your basement.
By considering these three things, you can choose a sump pump with an appropriate horsepower for the amount of water you will need to move. There are charts online that can guide and help you determine if more than one sump pump may be needed for your home.
Advantages of having two sump pumps in your basement?
Two sump pumps may seem excessive, but there can be some definite advantages to having multiple.
Having two pumps in the same basin can be referred to as the “piggy-back approach.” While both pumps are in the same basin, it’s important to put them at different heights from each other.
Instead of placing them side-by-side and having them turn on at the same time (which can wear the motors out faster and decrease life span), you place the second at a slightly elevated level from the first. This helps ensure that if the first pump fails or is unable to keep up with the amount of water coming into the basin, that the second will kick in and effectively handle the excess water.
Having two pumps takes some of the burden off and allows them to run more effectively, efficiently, and can also help extend the lifespan of the pumps.
Another thing to consider is installing a backup battery — this ensures that in the event of power loss, your pump will continue to function as designed. This can cost a few hundred dollars, but the peace of mind that comes with it will be worth it in the long run!
There are many factors to consider when determining whether or not you should buy a house with a sump pump.
It’s completely normal to have negative connotations, misconceptions, or questions about it – especially when it comes to such a big life event.
By being well informed you can feel confident in your decision and ensure happiness in your investment for years to come!