Water damage in your home is a serious business. Therefore, the decision to buy a reliable, quality sump pump to prevent a flooding catastrophe in your basement or crawlspace must be taken with due consideration. Luckily for you, you have come to the right place with the best information available for a sound decision.
We have already done the “leg work” to track down the finest, best-performing pumps available on the market today. Our research includes all types of the best basement sump pumps, portable pumps and backup sump pumps. Our top picks have been carefully selected for their ability to remove unwanted water from your home while also taking into consideration the variance in homeowners’ budgets.
Once you have completed this brief guide, you will understand why a sump pump is such an important investment, what features to look for in the best sump pumps, how to use them and how to install them properly.
- 1 Our Top 12 Recommended Sump Pump Comparison Table
- 2 Best Pedestal Sump Pump Reviews
- 3 Best Submersible Sump Pump Reviews
- 4 Best Portable Sump Pump Reviews
- 5 Best Battery Backup Sump Pumps
- 6 How Does A Sump Pump Work?
- 7 Types of Sump Pumps
- 8 Why You Should Invest in a Sump Pump
- 9 Why Do You Need a Backup Sump Pump?
- 10 Check for these features when selecting a backup sump pump
- 11 Why Should You Listen to Me?
- 12 How to Use a Sump Pump
- 13 Sump Pumps: What to Look for
- 14 How We Picked Sump Pumps
- 15 Tips on How to Maintain Your Basement
- 16 Best Sump Pump Brands
- 17 Installing a Sump Pump
- 18 Making the Decision
Our Top 12 Recommended Sump Pump Comparison Table
Best Pedestal Sump Pump Reviews
Reviewed below are three best-in-class pedestal sump pumps from dependable manufacturers. These pumps are built to provide many worry-free years of service. Each has room to spare in keeping even a large basement bone dry during heavy rains or spring snow melts. Because of their design, pedestal pumps cost less and provide up to twice the longevity as submersible pumps. They are also easy to adjust with more float travel than other pump types.
|Type||Pedestal sump pump|
|Suitable for||12-inch min. sump diameter|
|Product Details||½ HP, 115VAC, 28 lbs., 3800 GPH @ 10 feet|
|Type||Pedestal sump pump|
|Suitable for||12-inch min. sump diameter|
|Product Details||1/3 HP, 115VAC, 25 lbs., 2280 GPH @ 10 feet|
|Type||Pedestal sump pump|
|Suitable for||12-inch min. sump diameter|
|Product Details||1/3 HP, 115VAC, 11 lbs., 2460 GPH @ 10 feet|
Best Submersible Sump Pump Reviews
Submersible pumps, despite their typically higher price and shorter lifespan compared to pedestal pumps, remain a very popular choice because of their quiet operation and less intrusive installation profile. Here we review three of the best submersibles at different budget levels. Each are efficient and provide excellent value for various sump pump requirements.
|Type||Submersible sump pump|
|Suitable for||12-inch min. sump diameter|
|Product Details||3200 GPH @ 10 feet, ½ HP, 115VAC, 25 lbs.|
|Type||Submersible sump pump|
|Suitable for||10-inch min. sump diameter|
|Product Details||1/3 HP, 115VAC, 15 lbs., 2200 GPH @ 10 feet|
|Type||Submersible utility sump pump|
|Suitable for||Direct floor intake pumping|
|Product Details||1/4 HP, 115VAC, 7 lbs., 1200 GPH @ 10 feet|
Best Portable Sump Pump Reviews
Portable pumps are usually built to operate not only as backup sump pumps but for circulating water in ponds and fountains or to clear up spills. They are compact and easily stored out of sight until needed. Some are built to move fuel oil or soapy water. Below are three outstanding, economical portable pumps perfect for use in various on-demand jobs.
|Manufacturer||Attwood Marine Products|
|Type||Submersible battery-operated pump|
|Suitable for||Portable pumping needs|
|Product Details||Cordless, runs on three D cells, 2.2lbs., 125 GPH @ 2 feet|
|Type||Portable 120V AC submersible pump|
|Suitable for||Backup sump pump for removing standing water|
|Product Details||120VAC, 9lbs., 1680 GPH @ 10 feet|
|Manufacturer||Little Giant Pumps|
|Type||Portable AC-powered, portable, submersible pump|
|Suitable for||Continuous duty pumping at low flow|
|Product Details||115VAC, 3 lbs., 120 GPH @ 5 feet|
Best Battery Backup Sump Pumps
The number one reason a sump pump fails is lack of electricity. The worst case scenario is if the primary pump fails during heavy rain or flooding when you are away from home. The best sump pump system consists of a battery-powered backup sump pump installed in parallel to your primary pump. Here are a few suggestions to help you choose the best sump pump backup system.
|Type||Portable AC/Battery-powered submersible sump pump system|
|Suitable for||Basement primary and backup sump pump|
|Product Details||115VAC or 12VDC, 39 lbs., 3150 GPH @ 10 feet on AC, 2300 GPH @ 10 feet on battery|
|Type||12V battery-powered backup sump pump system|
|Suitable for||Basement sump pump with automatic backup|
|Product Details||12VDC, 13 lbs., 900 GPH @ 10 feet on battery|
|Type||Battery-powered submersible sump pump|
|Suitable for||Basement sump pump backup|
|Product Details||12VDC, 39 lbs., 3150 GPH @ 10 feet on AC, 2300 GPH @ 10 feet on battery|
How Does A Sump Pump Work?
An excellent question! And there is a great video that explains the process in a very swift and understandable way.
Types of Sump Pumps
Pedestal Sump Pump
A pedestal sump pump has a motor mounted above the pump on a shaft. This keeps the motor out of the sump basin. This design is less expensive to manufacture and maintain. A shaft extends from the motor to the impeller of the pump, which sits within the sump basin. They are ideal for both shallow and deep sumps. They fit smaller budgets and typically last 25 years or longer. Because of their height, they should be braced or tied to a nearby support.
Submersible Sump Pumps
A submersible sump pump is designed to be completely under the water it is pumping. They need a sump deep enough to completely cover the unit. Due to its compact size compared to a pedestal style sump pump, most people find it easier to handle and like that it is out of sight below the floor. A typical lifespan for a submersible pump is 10 to 15 years.
Portable Sump Pumps
A portable sump pump is used in areas that flood infrequently. They typically are powered by an electrical cord or an attached gasoline motor. Some require priming with water because they are not designed to suck up water but rather to push it. Intake and outlet hoses usually must be provided to transport the water a safe distance away. Running a portable sump pump dry can quickly damage the impeller or burn out the motor so they should be monitored.
Backup Sump Pumps
If the power goes out while a primary sump pump is operating, a backup sump pump that runs on either a battery or water pressure turns on automatically and continues removing excess water. Water-powered sump pumps get their power from the pressure of your city water supply, so can run indefinitely, whereas battery-powered backup pumps run from a lead-acid battery. Backup sump pumps include alarms to indicate when they are operating.
Battery Backup Sump Pumps
A battery-powered backup pump will work as long as its battery has a charge. Typically, a marine-grade, deep-cycle 12VDC battery is used, which is continually charged while the mains power is on. Although these pumps do not come with a battery, they usually have a sealed battery box, a charger, check valve and plumbing connections to insert it in parallel with your existing sump pump plumbing.
Why You Should Invest in a Sump Pump
The purpose of a sump pump is to remove excess water that occurs due to flooding or a high water table. If you have evidence of past flooding or any concern about future flooding, installing a sump pump is a wise idea. It avoids a host of problems:
- Water damage – Excessive water can damage your home’s structure or finish materials such as carpets or paneling.
- Mold – Excess moisture leads to mold growth in the structure and personal belongings.
- Rot – Other fungi that destroy wood, paper, clothes, etc. also love moisture.
- Rust – Anything metal in your basement can suffer from corrosion by either contact with accumulated water or from excessive humidity.
- Impaired air quality – Mold or other fungi create an unhealthy environment for the home’s occupants.
Why Do You Need a Backup Sump Pump?
Your primary sump pump will stop working during a power outage or due to mechanical failure. A backup sump pump has a power source separate from mains power, its own pump, check valve and plumbing to bypass the primary pump. Unattended, it will kick in and keep moving water when the primary sump pump is out of commission.
Check for these features when selecting a backup sump pump
- For a battery-powered backup pump, be sure it can charge a deep-cycle battery
- It should have a similar pumping capacity as the primary pump
- It must have its own check valve
- A water-powered backup pump is not appropriate for a house that gets water from a well.
Why Should You Listen to Me?
Having owned houses with basements, I have firsthand experience with all the pump types covered in this guide. As a home builder and renovator for two decades, I also installed or replaced sump pumps of all types in dozens of homes. Additionally, for this guide I have consulted over 20 experts including plumbers and sump pump manufacturers to acquire detailed specs and advice about designs, installation techniques and how to avoid maintenance and repair problems. Where any gaps in my knowledge still existed, I filled those by researching product descriptions, review sites and online forums populated by experts in pump technology.
How to Use a Sump Pump
A video from the North Dakota State University Extension Service provides an excellent overview of how a sump pump works and how to test its operation.
You should always test a new sump pump installation to familiarize yourself with its operation and determine that everything is working properly. The same steps should be applied every year:
- Be sure that the circuit from which your sump pump draws power is properly grounded and uses a GFI outlet.
- There is no reason to remove the sump pump when checking its operation, but if you do make sure its electric supply is disconnected.
- Remove the cover from the sump, if any.
- Removed debris from the sump basin. Too much debris plugs the pump’s inlet ports.
- With the pump connected electrically, fill the sump from the bottom with a garden hose or bucket.
- Watch that the float rises smoothly and continuously as the water level rises.
- When the pump turns on, it should not hesitate or cycle on and off quickly.
- There should be no unusual noises such as squealing or scraping when the pump starts or runs.
- Turn off the garden hose and observe the pump’s operation until it turns off.
- After the pump turns off, you should hear the check valve close in the outlet pipe.
- Repeat the entire test one more time to be sure everything works as expected.
The most important adjustment you can make is the length of time the pump runs after it turns on. This is controlled by the float switch. The duration of the on cycle is determined by the length of travel of the float. A longer travel distance allows the pump to operate with fewer on/off cycles, which increases the life of the pump.
Sump Pumps: What to Look for
A pedestal pump is more tolerant of different sump sizes. Most submersible pumps need a wider sump basin. Other than the sump pit size, both kinds of pumps, and other types as well, can be evaluated according to the following characteristics.
Be sure to buy a sump pump that has adequate pumping capacity. This is measured either as gallons per minute or gallons per hour. Both of these figures are measured at a specific head height, which is how high the water is pumped. As head height increases, GPH decreases. If a particular sump pump does not list a chart of GPH versus head height, pass it over. If the maximum head height it can pump is less than the distance from your sump to the top of the outlet plumbing, it will not work for your situation.
Sump pump power is measured in horsepower. If you are replacing a sump pump that was working adequately, buy another one with the same horsepower or higher. A 1/3-HP sump pump is adequate for most situations. If you have to pump the water higher than 10 feet or further from the house than 50 feet, then purchase one with a power of at least ½-HP up to 1 HP.
Sump pump floats come in different configurations. Pedestal sump pumps have a float on a long rod that rises with the level of the water. They usually have the longest travel of any pump type up to 10 inches. Submersible pumps use floats with shorter travel on a rod of four inches give or take. Some submersibles use a tethered float, which permits up to eight inches of travel. The longer the travel, the fewer times the pump will have to cycle power. Solid floats are superior to hollow floats as they never become waterlogged.
You should only purchase a sump pump with an automatic switch so it can run unattended. Furthermore, the switch should be mechanical and not a pressure switch. Otherwise, the type of mechanical sump pump switch is unimportant.
A sump pump impeller that can handle debris up to ½-inch diameter is recommended. Metal impellers will withstand hard debris such as pebbles better than plastic impellers.
Sump pump motors, especially pedestal style pump motors, can generate a lot of heat if they must run continuously. Thus, the best pump motors have a cast iron core rather than plastic in order to more effectively dissipate heat.
All other things equal, a sump pump of higher horsepower costs more than a smaller pump. Other than power, the price will reflect the cost of the materials used to make the pump such as the type of metal used in bearings, bushings and the housings.
Check the length of warranties and what they cover when comparing sump pump brands. Do not expect much, however. Since sump pumps work under unpredictable and adverse conditions, most manufacturers do not grant more than one or two years of warranty.
How We Picked Sump Pumps
Sump pumps have a vital job to perform. They must remove accumulated water in your basement or crawlspace automatically and with high reliability in order to avoid costly damage. Often, they are called upon to perform this function during times of extreme weather. Furthermore, they may pump unclean water containing debris.
Homeowners prefer sump pumps that they set and forget, which sometimes means the pumps must continue to operate even without regular maintenance. Thus, we look for sump pumps that are rugged, made of quality materials and do not play games with their specs. For instance, if a pump hedges the GPH/Head figures in any way, we consider that a sign of a weak pump. The best manufacturers tell you straight up how the pump will perform so that you can judge for yourself whether it is the right pump for your situation.
Tips on How to Maintain Your Basement
- Keep a cover over the sump. If you live in an area where radon in the soil is an issue, cover and seal this lid with plastic and tape.
- Make sure the lot grade slopes away from the house in all areas and water cannot puddle near walls.
- Even during heavy rains, gutters, downspouts and footing drains should handle all the runoff.
- River rock around the basement periphery and in window wells absorbs water that could penetrate basement walls.
- Vent bathrooms and clothes dryers to the outside of the house. Do not hang wet clothes in the basement.
- Insulate cold water pipes so that condensation does not form.
- Install a dehumidifier if humidity remains high after ensuring you have implemented the steps above.
Best Sump Pump Brands
The Zoeller Pump Co. is known throughout the world for high quality and reliable American-made sump pumps. Their sump pumps use cast iron housings and run quieter than other pumps on the market. Despite using the best quality materials, they are not overly expensive. Most Zoeller sump pump reviews are from happy buyers who installed the pumps themselves. Most of their pumps come with extra inlets and discharge outlets to accommodate varying installation requirements.
Liberty Pumps is a well-known name when it comes to sump pumps, drain pumps, utility pumps and sewage pumps. Their larger pumps are made with heavy-duty cast iron housings, while smaller pumps use durable thermoplastic. Besides primary sump pumps, they also make battery-powered and water-powered backup sump pumps. Buyers in sump pump reviews are always impressed with their quiet operation, reliability, affordable prices and generous 2-year warranties.
Wayne Pumps manufactures nearly any kind of pump you could need around your home. Besides primary sump pumps, backup sump pumps and sewage pumps, they make sprinkler pumps, drain pumps, utility pumps and more. Despite their economical pricing, they make durable products that bring trouble-free satisfaction for many years. Most sump pump products from Wayne use cast iron housings, epoxy-coated steel motor units and large discharge outlets. They back most products with an industry-leading 3-year warranty.
Installing a Sump Pump
Here are a few tools and materials you will find handy when replacing an old pump or installing a new one:
- Measuring tape and felt marker
- A flat blade screwdriver
- One or two rubber couplings with hose clamps the same size as the outlet pipe
- Ratcheting PVC snips or a PVC pipe saw
- PVC primer and PVC cement
- A few 6-inch zip ties
- A portable, bottom-inlet utility pump such as the Superior 91250
If you are replacing an existing sump pump with the same or different model, these are the initial steps to follow:
- Keep a utility pump nearby for cleaning up plumbing water and removing water in the sump basin
- Disconnect power from the old pump
- Set aside the sump basin lid
- Remove or disconnect the existing outlet check valve
- Lift the old pump from the basin using the vertical portion of the outlet pipe
- Remove any water and sediment from the basin
To continue replacing an existing sump pump or for a new installation, follow these steps:
- Add a coupler or adapter to the discharge fitting on the new pump that is the same size as the discharge pipe
- Attach a length of outlet pipe to the pump’s discharge fitting or coupler that extends a foot or so above the top of the sump basin
- Use the outlet pipe to lower the pump into the basin
- Be careful that the pump float does not come in contact with the basin wall
- Mark, cut and dry fit the remaining PVC outlet pipe being sure to include a check valve
- When all the outlet plumbing is assembled dry, mark each coupling and pipe it fits over or into with the felt marker so that it can be re-assembled in the same manner
Assemble the outlet plumbing using PVC primer and glue
- Zip-tie the pump’s power cord to the outlet plumbing to hold it in place
- Re-connect power to the pump
- Test the installation by filling the sump with water and observing pump operation
Making the Decision
Clearly there are many choices with regard to the size, configuration and quality of sump pumps to consider when making your sump pump buying decision.
Your first consideration should be selecting the correct size of primary sump pump that will adequately remove all the water flowing into the sump pit even during the heaviest rains. If you have an existing sump pump that was performing this function well up until its demise, then buy one with at least the same head lift and flow capacity. If you have any doubts at all about the correct size of sump pump, buy one at least one size larger. The little bit extra you pay for, say, a ½ HP pump versus a 1/3 HP pump pales in comparison to the prospect of standing water in your basement.
Next, compare the quality of pumps from different manufacturers. Here, the best information comes with this guide and product reviews by verified buyers. Discount sites with only a few reviews of a particular product. Also, consider the length of the warranty and the type of materials used in each pump. Ask a couple of local plumbers for their opinions about specific pump brands.
Always include in your sump pump budget room to buy either an automatic battery backup pump or at least a good quality portable pump as insurance against a primary pump failure. Sump pumps are generally reliable, but all it takes is one failure when you need it most to cause irreparable damage to belongings or your home’s structure.
Keep in mind that any sump pump should last at least 10 years and many last up to 30 years. Always buy the best basement sump pump possible, since the cost will be amortized over those 10 to 30 years. If you choose a pump because it is a hundred dollars cheaper, is the three to 10 dollars per year you saved really worth the doubts or lost sleep you might suffer?
Whichever pump you finally decide on, make sure it is installed correctly and do not forget to perform maintenance on it at least once a year to keep it running smoothly and reliably.