Tips for Buying the Best Sump Pump

Not all sump pumps are created equally- depending on their design, some sump pumps will far outlast and outperform their competition. The inner workings of a sump pump are much more involved than you may think- with a little research, you can protect your basement more effectively than ever before. For a free sump pump quote, call Basement Systems Edmonton today!  

1. Buy a Sump Pump that will Not Burn Out

Diagram of a Properly Installed Sump Pump

Diagram of a Properly Installed Submersible Sump Pump

A sump pump has mechanical parts, and like all mechanical things, they will eventually break or burn out. One of the most significant factors in finding a sump pump that will last is to find one that will properly disperse the heat created when the motor has been working hard for long periods of time.

First, be sure to install a sump pump that does not use a "can" motor. "Can" motors are mass-produced motors that arrive at the manufacturer in a metal casing. The manufacturer will then drop them in a second sump pump casing. Two layers of casing keeps much more heat in and cause the motor to run hotter.

To best disperse heat in your sump pump, it's also important that your sump is cast-iron. The heat generated by a sump pump cannot easily escape easily through a plastic sump pump casing, and building heat may slightly distort the housing, affecting the bearings. When purchasing a cast-iron sump pump, be sure that the middle housing in particular is cast-iron and not plastic or some other metal. Some pumps advertise themselves as cast-iron but still use plastic in the middle casing.

2. Choose a Submersible Sump Pump

pedastal sump pump in Edmonton, AB

A pedastal sump pump system in a Edmonton basement

The most common sump pump types are submersible, pedestal, water-powered, and "floor sucker" pumps.

Pedestal sump pumps are tall sump pumps with motors that are not meant to be submerged in water. These low-capacity pumps stand on stilted legs, with a long line from the sump pump float switch down into the pit. Because they must rise out of the sump pit, it's not possible to use a lid on a pedestal pump, and this open design will allow humidity and odors to rise out of the pit into the basement. Additionally, noise is not held within the sump pump liner, making it one of the noisiest designs. They also have a flawed sump pump switch design - see #3 for details.

Water-powered sump pumps depend on your home's water pressure to power the sump pump. However, your home will have to have very good water pressure to run properly. Additionally, these systems are extremely wasteful, removing 3-5 gallons of town water for each gallon pumped out of your house. Additionally, they aren't nearly as powerful as submersible sump pumps, and they can easily become overwhelmed with heavy flooding.

"Floor Sucker" pumps operate without a sump pit, removing all but 1/8" of water from the floor as they run. However, if you want a dry basement, this is not helpful, as water must first flood into the space before it runs. And if your floor is uneven or you have water entering at more than one point, how will your floor sucker protect you?

Submersible sump pumps are, by far, the quietest, most powerful, and most effective sump pumps available. They install beneath the floor, and when properly installed are the most attractive visual choice. Combined with a battery backup pump, they provide the most reliable wet basement protection on the market.

3. Find a Sump Pump with Ample Horsepower and a Proper Pump Switch

submersible cast-iron sump pump in Bonnyville, Alberta

A submersible sump pump with a proper float switch.

Sump pumps should be powerful- preferably, a little more powerful than you need. Basement Systems Edmonton prefers sump pumps that run at 80% capacity when pumping water, so they're not running at their absolute limit at all times. A good basement sump pump should be at least 1/3  to 1/2 horsepower. Be careful not to order a cheap sump pump that's meant only for temporary use, as it won't be able to keep your basement dry in the long run.

A submersible sump pump is not helping you if it can't turn on, so it's vital that the sump pump uses a switch that won't snag inside the canister.  Sump pumps that use arms, levers, or ball-and-chain (also known as "ball-and-wire") designs are notorious for snagging, forcing the pump to stick in an "on" or "off" position. Pumps that are forced to remain on with no water in the pit will quickly burn out.

The constant vibrations of a sump pump will cause the tall design of a pedestal sump pump to wander in the sump pit. As it does so, it can lean against the edge of the pit, sometimes against the float switch line. If this happens, the pump will cease to work.

The best sump pumps use a sump pump float switch that will rise up on a fixed bar that turns it on as the water level rises. The floating part of the switch should never be hollow, as hollow parts can fill with water, causing them to stop floating properly.

4. Install a Clog-Resistant Sump Pump

Primary, Secondary, and Battery Backup Sump Pumps in Liner

The TripleSafe, with Primary Sump Pump, Secondary Pump, & Battery Backup

While submersible sump pumps are the best, longest-lasting choice for a basement waterproofing system, they have one weakness:  they are more susceptible to clogs than other designs. When choosing a submersible sump pump, make sure it's designed to sit on stand in the sump pit - pumps laid directly on the bottom of the liner will operate where dirt and debris settle. The pump should run without a screen, as these collect debris and will clog your system.

The sump pumps provided by Basement Systems Edmonton of Alberta includes one extra special no-clog feature. Sump pumps pull water into the system with an impeller. An impeller is like a propeller, except that it pulls inwards instead of outwards. These impellers are usually set up against the outer housing-- meaning that any debris that enters, even a small pebble, could potentially jam the impeller and shut down the system. The Zoeller pumps provided by Basement Systems Edmonton have a half-inch clearance between itself and the outer pump casing to prevent small sediments from jamming your pump.

Zoeller Sump Pumps

As members of the Basement Systems International Network of waterproofers, Basement Systems Edmonton has access to sump pumps systems that have been carefully researched, tested, and compared to others in the market. The network benefits from the research of a dedicated R&D company that is dedicated to finding the best, most reliable sump pumps and sump pump accessories in the world.

Continually, our research leads us back to Zoeller as the best in the industry in sump pumps. As a family-owned company with more than 70 years, they understand sump pumps like no one else, and they apply their experience and dedication to quality to everything they do. Neither Basement Systems nor Basement Systems Edmonton manufactures these pumps- we use them because we know they're the best there are.

If you're interested in a Free Estimate on a basement or crawl space sump pump installation in your home, Basement Systems Edmonton would be happy to help you. Our free, no-obligation visits include an on-site inspection, a conversation about the best options available to you, and a written quote. Before your visit, we'll mail you a free copy of our 88-page full-color book on waterproofing.

Call or contact us today!  We serve throughout Alberta, including the areas of St. Albert, Edmonton, Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, Grande Prairie, Leduc, Camrose, Lloydminster, Wetaskiwin, Fort Saskatchewan, Lacombe, Stony Plain, Nisku, Cold Lake, Hinton, Westlock, Bonnyville, and the surrounding areas.

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our service area

We serve the following areas

  • Alliance
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  • Ardmore
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Our Locations:

Basement Systems Edmonton
12034 Fort Road
Edmonton, AB T5B4H1
1-780-800-2948