Sump pumps are the backbone of many basement drainage systems, pumping excess water out of a basement through a drainage pipe. A sump pump will only be effective, though, if it's installed properly. If you're having a sump pump put in your basement, avoid these installation mistakes so that your pump will work well for many years to come.
Not Having a Backup Power Supply
Sump pumps are usually most needed during heavy rainstorms, which are frequently accompanied by high winds and lightning. Should the power go out during a storm because the wind blew a tree branch into a power line, lightning struck a transformer, or a car skidded into a telephone pole, your sump pump will be rendered useless unless it has another source of power. Without electricity, it won't be able to run.
Make sure the technician who installs your sump pump connects your sump pump to a backup power source so your basement doesn't flood when the electricity goes out. If you have a generator, ask them to connect the sump pump to your generator. If you don't have a generator, ask the sump pump installation company you hire about getting a battery as a backup power supply.
Putting the Drain Pipe Too Close to a Tree
The sump pump will pump water through a drain pipe, which will carry the water outside and into your yard. In most cases, drain pipes exit the basement wall and then are directed into the ground.
Placing the drain pipe too close to a tree won't cause any immediate problems, but it may be an issue in several years—especially if it's an Eastern Cottonwood, which the Conservation Institute says is the fastest-growing tree in North America. As a tree grows, its roots will expand. In several year's time, they could reach the drain pipe and break it.
A broken drain pipe won't direct water as far from your basement as it's designed to. Depending on how close to your home the break is, some water may flow through the ground and right back into your basement. If it does, your sump pump won't be able to clear out excess water, no matter how hard it works, because the water will just come back.
To make sure tree roots won't cause issues with your sump pump's drain pipe in a few years, place the drain pipe away from trees.
Getting Too Large of a Sump Pump
You don't necessarily need to spring for the biggest—and likely most expensive—model available. In fact, getting a sump pump that's too big can actually be counterproductive. When a sump pump is too big for a basement, it turns on and off frequently. This shortens the sump pump's life, and it will need to be replaced sooner than a properly sized model would be.
Avoid getting a sump pump that's too large for your basement by limiting the models you consider to the ones that are within the size range that your installation technician recommends. They'll know what size sump pump will be able to keep your basement dry without constantly turning on and off.
Not Testing the Sump Pump
You don't want to find out there's an issue with your sump pump in the middle of a rain storm. Make sure it's working properly by testing it once it's installed. All you need to do is dump a bucket of water into the basin the sump pump is in. It should begin pumping the water out. This test takes only a minute to do, and your sump pump installation technician should be happy to help you so you can see how the pump works.