The Sump Pump Diagram : From Information to Installation

Sump Sump

UPDATED: July 24, 2017

I like to think of the sump pump diagram as an all-encompassing piece on how everything fits into place when it comes to installing a sump pump. There is a ton of information regarding sump pump maintenance, how to replace a sump pump, and the like. I’ve written quite a bit about sump pumps in case of basement flooding on However, all of my previous attempts have barely scratched the surface. Hopefully, after you read the final word of this piece, you’ll have no more questions regarding sump pump design, sump pump service or any other sump pump-related questions.

If you are looking for a new sump pump and you are DIY’ing it, we recommend these:

Let’s Tackle the Most Basic of Questions: What Does a Sump Pump Do?

The simple answer is that a sump pump is built to move unwanted water from one spot to another. Most times, the water is being moved to a place where the liquid drains by gravity into a sewer designed to handle storm/ground water. In other cases, the water reaches some place designed to handle rainwater/ground water retention like a retention pond or swale. In the plumbing world, we use sump pumps and ejector pumps to dewater flooded basements, pits or open excavations all the time.

In quite a few areas around the US, like Chicago, NY, NJ and Syracuse, basements are a common feature in single-family homes. In fact, they are pretty popular as a way to expand the living space in a house. These underground chambers are also common in other places like Toronto or Edmonton. Basements are built below ground under the home. In areas with a high water table such as the Midwest or Northeast, ground water can be a basement’s worst enemy.


Think back to when you were a child and you played with boats in the bathtub. If you tried to push a boat underwater, it was difficult. The hydraulic pressure would always push the boat up unless you were trying to reenact a scene from Titanic. Essentially, your foundation is a big concrete boat. As the water table rises, the hydrostatic pressure increases, pushing your basement “boat” out of the ground.

Will a high water table actually push a foundation out of the ground? I guess it’s possible under extreme circumstances. However, what often happens is that what is probable is that the water tries to find its way into the basement to relieve the pressure. Water will exploit any crack, seam or penetration you have in your basement. I’ve even seen basement floors crack pretty significantly due to extreme hydrostatic pressure.

What Is a Sump Pump Used for?

It is used to evacuate ground water from underneath and around your basement foundation. This way, your basement doesn’t turn into a swimming pool or a mold filled science lab. Over the years, I’ve seen many different sump pump installations. My home is at a high point on the block and has a foundation that sits about 2ft above grade with windows. The water table never gets quite high enough to get to extreme flooding.

Sump Sump

Sump Pumps move water

The past owner was obviously mildly concerned with flooding. Therefore, they dug a sump hole or sump pit at the lowest point of the foundation, installed a corrugated plastic pit and pump, and called it a day. The sump pit fills with groundwater that weeps into the pit through the holes. It works fine in my house, but it isn’t the typical sump pump installation. Most properly designed and installed sump pump systems have three components that work together to protect your basement from flooding.

Drain Tile

Most drain tile installed these days is plastic and it comes in large perforated corrugated rolls or you can also get it in lengths of rigid perforated corrugated rolls or you can also get it in lengths of rigid perforated SDR 26 plastic pipe.

Drain Tile

Black Corrugated Drain Tile

Both forms of piping should be installed within a sock or sleeve to filter out solids that can get caught and accumulate in the piping. Rigid piping is more expensive but more durable and it is able to be rodded or hydro-jetted in case of a blockage. A heavy-duty rodding machine will tear up corrugated flexible piping.

SDR 26 Piping

SDR 26 Piping

Sump Pit

After excavating the sump hole, a properly sized sump pit should be installed to connect the drain tile and collect the ground water. The pit should be deep enough so the pump can remove the water well below the bottom of the basement floor and large enough in diameter to accommodate two pumps in case a battery backup is wanted or needed. Check your local plumbing codes. Most have provisions that specify the depth and diameter.

Basic Sump Pit

Basic Sump Pit

Sump Pump

We will go into further depth with regard to sizing and installation but a properly sized and installed sump pump is the heart and soul of any functioning ground water removal system. If your pump isn’t sized correctly or worse isn’t’ functioning at all the water table will rise and you will flood.

Can You Help Me with a Sump Pump Install?

The answer is yes, of course. But first we have to define the question. Do you want to replace a sump pump or is this a brand new basement sub pump?

New Sump Pump Installation

If you want to install a sump pump system in a home for the first time, you have to make some decisions. How elaborate do you want the installation to be?

Most ground water removal systems are partially installed while the home is being built. After the basement concrete forms are removed, the foundation is still excavated around the perimeter of the home. This is a great time to install drain tile. The drain tile is placed close to the bottom of the foundation. Once you know the location of the sump pit, you can chip out the floor on the inside and punch your drain tile piping under the foundation. This way, they can be connected to the pit.

The pit can now be installed. Holes will be cut out of the plastic pit at the locations where the drain tile discharges. The foundation can now be backfilled.

Special Note

You have to, at the very least, pay attention while backfilling the foundation, especially if you’re using corrugated plastic piping. Heavy debris can crush or damage the pipe compromising the functionality of your system.

After the sump pit is installed, it is a good idea to use hydraulic cement to seal around the pit. This ensures a watertight seal. I’ve seen several basements in the process of flooding that had streams shooting from around a pit that weren’t properly installed. You could also check out a Radon Mitigation System that works as a seal cover.

Superior Pump 91250 1/4 HP Thermoplastic Submersible Utility Pump with...
  • 1/4 HP Utility pump moves up to 1,800 gallons per hour; pump will lift water up to 25' of vertical height
  • Tough thermoplastic construction; 10' cord length
  • 1-1/4 inch NPT discharge for high capacity pumping; includes 3/4 inch garden hose adapter

***A pretty sweet visual installation guide can be found by clicking the picture below. Thanks to our friends at London Drainage Services for your hard work putting this Sump Pump Diagram together.

diagram of how to install a sump pit and pump

**Please note, one of our expert readers pointed out that in Step 8 of our Simp Pump Diagram it states “plug the pump into a nearby GFCI protected receptacle.” He claims rightfully so that, if the GFI ever trips for any reason, your sump pump is useless. He further added that he had been an expert witness in several flood cases and the homeowner won every time. I did a little research and there are a few major pump manufacturers that still recommend a GFI box be used. However, several sources don’t mention it at all. Please be aware of the problems that can occur if you are plugging your sump pump into a GFI receptacle. 

Superior Pump 91250 1/4 HP Thermoplastic Submersible Utility Pump with...
  • 1/4 HP Utility pump moves up to 1,800 gallons per hour; pump will lift water up to 25' of vertical height
  • Tough thermoplastic construction; 10' cord length
  • 1-1/4 inch NPT discharge for high capacity pumping; includes 3/4 inch garden hose adapter

Installing a Sump Pump and Drain Tile in an Existing Home

I have been in many homes that have a basement but neither a sump pit nor any drain tile. Most have never had a history of flooding. For whatever reason the flooding began (we will attempt to answer that question in our Q & A at the end of this article), there are several ways to handle situations like this. However, only two of them are real solutions.

1.) Exterior Drain Tile System w/ Basement Sump Pump

The installation of this type of flood control system is almost identical to how you would install it if the house were new. Except for sizable cost of excavating around the entire perimeter of the home.

Step 1 – Pick a logical location in the basement for the new sump and pit. Things to consider when picking a location for the sump pump:

  • Ease of access to service the pit and pump in the basement
  • How difficult is it to go under the foundation floor in a certain location?
  • Is the basement already finished? In this case finding a spot in an unfinished portion would be best.

Step 2 – Remove any landscaping or structures from around the home.

Step 3 – Lay the drain tile in a bedding of pea gravel and punch drain tile under foundation footings. (Pro Tip – We choose to use pea gravel instead of ¾ stone because pea gravel is self-compacting. If you use ¾ stone you will have to compact it to minimize the risk of settling)

Step 4 – Excavate interior location of sump pit. Look at our Sump Pump diagram to determine the optimal location.

Step 5 – Install pit and connect drain tile.

Step 6 – Install sump pump and discharge piping.

Step 7 – Backfill exterior excavation with pea gravel over the piping and the rest with excess spoils and perform landscape restoration.

2.) Interior Drain Tile System w/ Basement Sump Pump

This option is the most logical when faced with basement flooding issues when no drain tile or sump pump is present. If the basement is unfinished, it’s a very straightforward project. Follow these step-by-step instructions to set up an interior drain tile.

Interior Drain Tile

Interior Drain Tile

Step 1 – Pick a location for the sump pump that takes into consideration future plans for the basement. Maybe you can install close to the incoming water service in case you need to drain down the domestic water for any reason.

Step 2 – Sawcut and Excavate: We always sawcut an 18” – 24” trench about 12” away from the basement walls. You have to sawcut far enough away from the wall to get past the footing, which is about 8”.


When you sawcut, make sure you cross cut the concrete every two feet or so. This makes the pieces of concrete small enough to handle.

(Caution – If you do plan to sawcut yourself, please make sure you rent or buy an electric partner saw. Using a gas powered partner saw can result in extreme sickness or death. Believe me, it happens more often than you think.)

You want to dig down about 12”. Just deep enough to install 4” drain tile in a bed of pea gravel covering the pipe

Step 3 – Install drain tile and sump pit in pea gravel. Make connections to sump pit.

Step 4 – Backfill trench covering newly installed drain tile with pea gravel and patch concrete.

Step 5 – Install sump pump and discharge piping.

There is a way to minimize the cost of installing a sump pump and drain tile using the second option. However, it can only be used in certain circumstances. In some instances, it is clear that flooding/seepage is coming from one area of the house.

This can happen because of how the lot sits on the property. Maybe the landscaping literally funnels water to a certain area of the house. Under these circumstances, it’s possible to install drain tile in the problem locations and connect that piping to a sump pit in the same area. This can save you quite of bit of the cost in the way of sawcutting, excavation, concrete patching, and drain tile installation.

Sump Pump Help! What Is the Cost of Installing a Sump Pump?

Obviously, people ask me this question all the time. It’s pretty tough to give a straight answer because labor rates fluctuate wildly around the country but I’ll try. This part of the article is important because you may or may not be DIY -ing this project. However, I will put some qualifiers on pricing I’m about to give.

To all of my plumbing pals out there, I apologize in advance if you’re getting more for some of this work. I think these are fair numbers. The pricing I will suggest is for work done by a real company with real licensed plumbers/installers. These are companies that do this for a living, to be able to keep lights on, pay rent or a mortgage, feed themselves and other families, and actually make a profit.

I’m sure some of you have your favorite plumber who does side jobs or works out of the garage. Those guys are great, but I can’t and I won’t compare them to a business that is in business to survive and prosper and give warranty’s etc. So here are some loose pricing guidelines for installing sump pump in basement and installing drain tile systems.

Mid-Range Sump Pump

picture of a cheap sump pump

Not a forever sump pump!

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it, depending on the company this price point usually gets you what you need. A 1/3rd H.P. or ½ H.P. sump pump with a cast iron or stainless steel housing (maybe a combination of both), tried and true submersible float and a silent check valve. The contractor will probably throw in a 2 to 3 year parts and labor warranty. Again depending on the contractor this pump my even include an alarm, which will warn you if the pump fails or the power goes out. The average estimate cost is around $650.00 furnished and installed. Check out this Sump Pump diagram for more details.

Zoeller Pump Features

Zoeller Pump Features

High End Sump Pump

This is very subjective because there are options for high-end pump that are in the 2K range. Most of those involve commercial grade pedestal sump pump installation. For this discussion and this price range, you’ll probably get a ½ H.P. to 1 H.P. pump that has a heavy-duty cast iron housing, (The cast iron dissipates heat better than other materials), a ceramic shaft, a true solid state electronic switch and controls that have several alarms that can be interfaced with home automation and upgraded if another pump or battery backup is installed.

A solid-state electronic switch has no moving parts therefore it last much longer than a traditional mechanical float switch. This option would also come with a silent check valve. The investment can go to $850-$950 furnished and installed.

New Exterior Drain Tile with Interior Sump Pit

With the pricing I’m giving you here assume you are getting the best pump available. Of course a plumbing contractor can shave off a few hundred dollars by lowering the quality of the pump, however, when you are investing your hard earned dollars to upgrade your home to make sure it doesn’t flood downgrading the pump is probably not the best idea.

New Exterior Drain Tile with Interior Sump Pit

This is a workhorse

This option would include excavation around the perimeter of the house (This doesn’t include landscape preservation or restoration), installation of SDR 26 rigid or corrugated piping with filter sock, furnishing and installing new trench backfill, backfill to grade, interior excavation for sump pit, final connection of drain tile to sump pit, furnishing and installing new sump pump and discharge piping, furnishing and installing storm drainage to sewer or run off area up to 20ft away, final patching of interior concrete. The costs can get between $15,000 – $25,000 depending on the size and layout of the house.

New Interior Drain Tile with Interior Sump Pit and Sump Pump

As with the above option the pricing includes the best pump and product. Long-term functionality is too important. This option includes sawcutting, removal of all concrete and spoil from the premises, excavation for drain tile and sump pit, furnishing and installing of SDR 26 rigid or corrugated piping with filter sock and sump pit, furnishing and installing new trench backfill for drain tile and sump pit, backfill to bottom of concrete floor, final connection of drain tile to sump pit, furnishing and installing new sump pump and discharge piping, furnishing and installing storm drainage to sewer or run off area up to 20ft away, final patching of interior concrete.

The cost can get between $10,000 – $17,000 this again depends on the size of the house and how difficult it is to remove concrete and spoils. We have installed a conveyor belt system in basements utilizing a window well large enough to accommodate concrete and spoils being placed on it and removed. This greatly reduces man hours spent hauling concrete out of the basement in buckets.

Who Makes the Best Basement Sump Pump?

Wow, that is a really good question and you can read about it if you click the link below. There are quite a few great pump manufacturers here in the United States, Blue Angel, Hydromatic, Barnes, Glentronics (Basement Watchdog & PHCC Pro), Wayne, Liberty, Metropolitan Pump, Zoeller Pump, etc. are several that may be familiar to you.

How to Decide Which Sump Pump Is Best?

How does the company support the installer i.e. the plumber or plumbing contractor? By support I mean if I, as a plumber am putting in X sump and ejector pumps and I have an issue with the pump, how is the issue resolved? Does the company send out a repair tech? Does the manufacturer provide me with a new pump and then pay me for my time to reinstall or do they do nothing?

I’ll give you an example of a product I won’t use that you may be familiar with; Ridgid Pumps are sold by Home Depot and are manufactured by Wayne Pumps.They have a life-time warranty. Does that sound great right? Here is the catch, if the pump goes out you can take out your old pump, take it in to Home Depot and they will give you a new pump. However, in the meantime your basement is probably flooding. They do not pay for the service professional’s time to reinstall the new pump. Therefore, if a plumber or plumbing contractor decides to furnish and install Ridgid Pumps they will always be responsible for the labor to take out and reinstall. 

Ridgid Pumps

Ridgid Pumps

Does the manufacturer keep me informed of new products and technologies? The basic design of a sump pump hasn’t changed very much in 40 years. Materials have changed somewhat, switches have changed for some but for the most part they are pretty similar. Some companies are much better than others at R&D and push new and more efficient products to market. I’m a big fan of companies that don’t sit on their laurels.

Does the manufacturer build their own pump or are they a broker for pumps with a private label? There are several of the above manufacturers that have factories in other countries but they oversee the process. It’s their factory and their responsibility. There are also manufacturers that find a company in China to build a pump to their specifications. Is there some quality control? Some, but not like there would be if they owned the company. Then there are some manufactures that make most of their product right here in the good ole US and A. Those are few and far between but their products are top notch.

WAYNE CDU980E 3/4 HP Submersible Cast Iron and Stainless Steel Sump...
  • Assembled in the US with foreign and domestic parts
  • Top suction pump design minimizes air locks and clogging from debris in bottom of sump pit.Assembled in us, with foreign...
  • Stainless steel motor housing and rugged, cast iron pump base

What kind of switch is used to control the pump cycle? As I’ve said before the switch goes bad way before most pumps. I’m a very big fan of some of the new solid-state switches. Because there are no moving parts they are very durable and more closely match the actual durability of the pump itself. If I am installing a pump without an electronic switch it will be a mechanical float style on an arm. I will not buy a pump with a diaphragm switch or one with a tethered float.

Please note

The reason I don’t like tethered floats especially in colder climates is because colder water stiffens the wire or tether between the pump and float. Sometimes the float doesn’t travel up far enough and therefore doesn’t engage the pump. We use tethered floats in commercial applications but the configuration of the sump pumps and pit are different. The pits and pumps tend to be much deeper allowing the float to move.

Pumping capacity

This is a published metric but not all manufactures tell the whole truth. Not all pumps are created equally even if they have the same H.P.


I’ll admit I’m a sucker for technology but not if it sacrifices functionality. Some of the new controls being offered at certain price points are keeping up with home automation and really gives the customer some piece of mind and flexibility. i.e. connecting your sump pump and battery backup system to the cloud which allows you to monitor your system either while you’re home or away. Some controls also allow you to add a pump to effectively turn your system into a duplex sump pump by alternating between two pumps. This spreads the cycles evenly over the pumps prolonging the life of the system.

Ridgid Sump Pump

This is a badass controller.

OK, OK so who makes the best basement sump pumps? My first choice is Zoeller Pump and my second is Metropolitan Industries. They share some similar qualities but are very different as well. Most of Zoeller’s product is made here in the United States. They are family owned and really, really care about their reputation especially amongst plumbing professionals. They continually try to improve their product and they stand behind it 100%, which makes installs easier.

Zoeller 137 Sump Pump

My favorite brand Zoeller

Metropolitan Industries is a company that started off by manufacturing large-scale commercial house pumps and ejector pumps. They are literally on the cutting edge of technology, I call them water-pumping geeks and I love it. They like Zoeller are family owned and back up their products. With regard to residential pumps Metropolitan is a new comer to the market but when they commit to a product or technology they jump in with both feet.

Zoeller M53 Mighty-mate Submersible Sump Pump, 1/3 Hp
  • 3/10 HP pump for residential sump pits or septic tanks
  • 1½" discharge, passes 1/2" spherical solids
  • Automatic model with integral float-activated switch

You Have Your Sump Pump Basement Flooding Questions Answered!

Q: Can You Explain How a Sump Pump Works?

A: I sure can. A sump pump is a submersible pump, which means it has a sealed housing protecting it from the water it’s being submersed in. The pump impeller is turned by the motor and that high speed rotation creates suction which, removes the ground water from your sump pit. The discharge from the pump is connected to piping that is installed to ensure ground water is adequately evacuated from the home. The sump pump purpose is to remove subsurface water away from a basement or foundation.

Q: What Can I Do about a Frozen Sump Pump?

A: This question has one of two answers depending on the meaning of the question. If your sump pump is locked up and not working then it’s time to replace the pump, especially if there is no sound coming from the pump.

The second part of the answer is quite literal and usually means that the sump pump discharge line is frozen. Since most times sump pumps are installed inside it’s very rare that an actual sump pump is frozen. So how does a sump pump line freeze? Almost 100% of the time it is because of improper installation.

A sump pump discharge line is meant to be piped indirectly into line dedicated to receiving ground water. This means the smaller discharge piping is evacuating the water into a larger diameter piping with an air gap between the two. Frozen sump pump lines occur when the discharge piping is hard connected to the sewer line and that line freezes. At this point the pump is pumping against an ice blockage. If the discharge is piped properly and the storm sewer freezes the pumps discharge will just splash outside the house.

Is it possible for ice to continue to build up eventually blocking the indirect connection? Sure, anything is possible however it is very unlikely. If your line is frozen you have to cut out the frozen section and replace. You also have to make sure the functionality of the pump hasn’t been compromised. If the pump has been cycling against itself for any length of time the pump could be burned out as well.

Q: What’s the Deal with Sump Pump Float Switch Adjustment?

A: There are quite a few different styles of sump pump float switches on the market, solid state electronic, diaphragm, and float style with guide, tethered float. However, there are only two ways a pump cycle is activated via those switches. The switch can be integral to the pump meaning it is built in to the pump itself or it is what’s called a piggyback switch. A piggyback switch is a switch that the pump plugs into and that switch activates the pump.

A pump that has a switch that is integral to the pump cannot be adjusted to allow for more or less water to enter the sump pit. The only adjustment available for pumps provided with this type of switch is how high or low the pump is installed inside the pit. For example, if the pump was often cycling and the pump was sitting on the bottom of the pit you could remove the pump, place several bricks at the bottom and reinstall the pump. The float would now be higher in the pit allowing the water to reach a higher level before cycling.

You have quite a bit more adjustment options with a piggyback switch, as it is not part of the pump body. Most piggyback switches are attached to the discharge piping with hose clamps or zip ties which allows you to place the float at any height in the pit.


The higher the water is inside the pit the more hydrostatic pressure you have pushing against the basement floor or foundation walls. Please consult with a professional plumber regarding float switch heights.

Q: How Can I Perform a Sump Pump Float Switch Repair?

A: If the switch is integral to the pump there is very little you can do other than making sure the float isn’t getting hung up on something in the pit or that there is scale or debris on the float mechanism.

If your pump has a piggyback type switch you can literally go to any home improvement center or local plumbing supply company and buy a new sump pump switch that they have available. Even if the pump came with a float type switch you can change it to a solid-state electronic switch that senses the amount of water in the pit

Q: Why Would Someone Have an Outdoor Sump Pump Installed?

A: Here is an example of why someone would have an outdoor sump pump installed. There are homes that have walkout basements that are dug out below the final grade of the lot. So in a sense the patio is a big bowl. I’ve personally been involved with a project where if it rained with any gusto the patio held 3ft of water and the sliding glass door was like an observation window at an aquarium.

The funny thing or not so funny if you own a home with this issue is that most builders don’t adequately plan for this volume of water. They may lay drain tile along the inside edge of the patio and that is obviously tied into the interior sump pit. The only problem with this plan is that when it rains the water doesn’t have time to percolate through the pavers into the drain tile. That water needs a place to go and it can’t get to the sump pit fast enough.

Diagram of Outdoor Sump Pump

Outdoor Sump

So how do you solve the problem? You create a sort of lift station. You dig a deep pit at grade lower than the patio. That pit would be made of fiberglass or concrete. We would install a set of trench drains about 12” in front of the sliding glass doors and run the drain tile to the pit. The pit and pump would have only function; to remove excess water from the patio. The pump discharge would be piped below the frost line below grade to a storm sewer or storm run off area. Please see drawings below to get an idea of the concept.

Outdoor Sump Pump 2

Outdoor Sump Pump Topdown

The sump pump will need a dedicated electrical outlet that is protected against the elements.

Q: Does a Sump Pump’s H.P. Make a Difference?

A: The answer is yes and no, so let me explain. There is a plumbing term we use “Total Developed Head” or “Total Dynamic Head” In layman’s terms it is a combination of how high your pump has to pump the water to evacuate the pit of water and friction loss inside the run of pipe. If you have a normal 9ft basement that discharges out of your house several feet from the pit and pump a standard 1/3rd H.P. is the proper pump to use. It is possible to oversize the pump. In this case bigger isn’t better especially if the pump is normally cycling.

Now if you have 12ft ceilings in your basement and the discharge runs 40ft before it evacuates your home upsizing the pump is a good idea. A professional plumber will be able to look at the situation measure total dynamic head and properly size the pump. You don’t need to buy a 1/2 or 3/4 H.P. pump just because it has more power, buy a better quality pump that is properly sized.

Q: Is a Battery Back-up System just a Glorified Marine Sump Pump?

A: Standard sump pumps installed in your homes are AC pumps. They are built to run on AC power that is supplied in the home. When the power goes out a battery back-up system kicks in. That battery provides DC current which can’t power your sump pump without a converter (Metropolitan’s Sump Pump Pro). So you need to have a DC pump in the pit along side the AC Sump Pump. Up till now the best pumps produced to remove significant water on a DC current were marine bilge pumps. Most battery back-up systems sold in the US have a slightly modified marine sump pump/bilge pumps to handle the pumping duties in case of a power failure. However the Zoeller Aquanot 508 is a DC pump that was specifically design as a sump pump and it is hand built and tested right here in the U.S.A.

Q: Google Search Topic: Help Replacing Sump Pump

A: Why yes, I can give you some help on replacing a sump pump. In fact I’ll give you a step-by-step guide. This assumes you know for sure your pump is bad.

  • 1Unplug pump.
  • 2If you have a rubber sump check valve you need a ratchet or T-handle nut driver to loosen the hose clamps on both sides of the check valve. (You can loosen the side closest to the pump however, I think it’s best to take the valve off and check inside for any debris or wear. In fact most often times I change out the check valve). If you have a union style ball and check valve you just loosen union joint by hand or by large channel
  • 3Pull sump pump from basin
  • 4Use large Channel Locks to unscrew male adapter and discharge piping from sump pump. Throw old sump pump away.
  • 5Tighten pipe assembly back into new sump pump.
  • 6Reinstall check valve on the outlet side of the discharge piping
  • 7Place sump pump back inside pit. If piping is too long, measure length to be trimmed by lining up pump and piping next to outlet discharge piping with check valve. Piping from the sump pump should line up to the back of the inlet side rubber gasket. If pump piping is too short you can prop up the pump with a brick or brink paver however it is always better to have an exact measurement.
  • 8Make sure float or floats are free and clear of the sides of the sump pit or any cords going into the pit.
  • 9Plug in sump pump and ensure proper cycling.

That is how to install a sump pump.

If you need more help check out this video that will teach you how to install a sump pump. It will show you how to drill a hole to your sewage to create a nice flat surface for your pump to sit on. No need to crawl the internet for more help, when all the information is right here for you.

Final Word

As always thanks for reading. I sincerely hope that if you ever ask yourself “how does a sump pump work?” you know where to look. Let us know in the comment section below if the Sump Pump diagram was of any use to you.

Sean Kavanaugh

Last update on 2021-09-18 at 01:41 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  1. Thanks for the description on how different parts of a sump pump works. I will have to see how mine are doing, and see if they need maintenance. Hopefully I can find a professional in the area that can help.

  2. Hi, I have a sump pump fitted in my basement, with a non return valve and then pipe work up to the outside drain. The pipe work after the valve is leaking, and I can’t get to it while it’s in position to seal it. I tried to undo the pipe work after the valve but there seems to be a lot of water pressure in the pipe work, probably due to gravity. What’s the best way to remove this pipe work? Do I just crack one of the joins and wait for all the water to drain back into the hole with the pump in? (With pumps turned off obviously)

    1. Your check valve is holding water. Basically doing what was intended. Is it a threaded check? Does it have a gate valve so you can manually open and close the valve? If so you can just open it and let the water drain into the pit. If not you can drill a hole in the pipe above the check and let the water drain out. If you are replacing the sump check cut below the check and stick a screwdriver into the check, pushing the flapper open to open the check. This will let the water run back into the pit.

      Sean K

  3. I need to replace my current pedestal sump pump with a submersible pump prior to having a radon mitigation system installed. Do you know how much something like that might cost? The pit that houses the pedestal pump isn’t very deep.

    1. Hey Sarah,

      This is a very difficult question to answer because there are so many variables #1 being where you live, #2 being what quality of pump do you require? I would say that in the midwest, having a licensed plumber furnish and install a new high quality sump pump should be between $500.00 and $750.00. That price would also come with a labor and material warranty.

      Sean Kavanaugh

  4. My primary and backup are on separate discharge pipes just in case both need to run simultaneously. Just outside my house they discharge into a free flowing drainage system. I need to make room for a hot water heater exhaust in that same space. Is it safe to combine the discharge pipes into a single pipe using a wye connector? Both pipes are 1.5 in., would I use a 2 in wye and exterior pipe? I have never had both pumps run simultaneously but its been close.

    1. I’m not sure I’m getting this correctly. You want to combine your exhaust flue piping with you’re sump pump discharge piping? If that is the case it is absolutely against every code in the U.S. and could be very dangerous. If there was ever a blockage on the discharge pipe deadly fumes could back up into the house putting you and your family at risk. DO NOT DO THIS.

      Sean K

        1. For sure absolutely. Absolutely no issues with that install. Sorry I misunderstood.

          Sean K

  5. Fantastic information, I will send clients to this website when they want to know more about how their sump pump operates. The only part that made me cringe was seeing the “Handy Guide” say to plug the sump pump into a GFCI protected outlet. Never allow the sump to be wired to a GFCI outlet. One nuisance trip and you just lost your pump, and next step is a flooded basement. I’ve been an expert witness in a few court cases where the homeowner sued the builder, the plumber, and the electrician for having GFI on sump outlets – which lead to major loss due to basement flooding. They won each time.

    1. David, thanks for your kind words. This is real interesting and I see your point, Zoeller includes installing a GFI receptacle in their installation instructions but I looked up Ion StormPro by Metropolitan Pump and they exclude but do not caution against it. I’m going to clarify it in the piece. If you’ve been an expert witness and won cases then every pump manufacturer should know about it.

      Sean K

  6. Hello Sean,
    I am a homeowner in Indianapolis, IN. I would like to know how and where a sump pump line should discharge? I currently have an issue where it appears that my neighbors sump pump line is draining directly into the tile line leading to the storm drain that runs behind/between our houses. It seems that because of this, water is building up in our backyard due to the excessive amount of water coming from their line? We currently have a big, wet, muddy mess in our back yard right now. Are they in compliance???? Please help! Thank you in advance.

    1. The sump discharge should be piped outside the house and discharge indirectly to the storm. In layman’s terms you should see the
      1 1/2″ line discharging into a 4″ line and it would be an open connection. It seems to me that the issue is that the storm drain between your two homes isn’t evacuating the water. It’s possible it is blocked or collapsed. Now if you know that the sump is hard piped to the storm that is a violation of most plumbing codes however, that wouldn’t affect the water in the yard.

      Sean Kavanaugh

  7. Great website, very informative, thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge.
    Two questions for you. I have a sump pump installed and want to add a back up system. What size diameter does the pit typically need to be? I am concerned that there wont be room for both (I haven’t physically seen the size of a back up pump). I am looking at replacing the current sump pump with a Zoeller 98 and then adding a back up. Just not sure if the pit will take it.

    Second question – my sump pump used to go off maybe 4/5 times per day in bad weather. Now it can be 4 times per hour ! Reason for this is my neighbour was paranoid about potential flooding and had excavation work done to install extra drainage around his basement walls to take water away from the house (and his sump pump) and drain out of underground pipes running close to my house at the side where our sump pump is. The water from the new drainage never makes into to the outflow near the sidewalk (no puddles ever seen), my poor sump pump does all the work for the two houses.

    Its a great cause for concern in that my house is now exposed to far more water than previously (hence the desire for a back up pump), but is there anything else we can do in a cost effective manner to possibly minimize the amount of water getting to our home in the first place? Is there a way to divert the seepage from the pipe that have been laid under my neighbours lawn?

    1. What is the size of your current pit? 18″ is standard and that will accommodate any residential sump pump and backup.

      So instead of taking the extra drainage piping back to his pump he just let it run by gravity to a storm drain? Nice neighbor! Without seeing the lay of the lot there is really nothing you can do. You can add drain tile of your own if the grade of the lot warrants it or you can regrade around the house to divert water away from the house. The most cost effective way to give yourself some peace of mind is to add a real battery back-up. I love Zoeller and you can certainly by their sump pump and battery backup package but this one by Ion Storm Pro is the cats pajamas. It’s two full size pumps pre piped with a control that has an alternating switch. This spreads out cycling over the both pumps evenly. The only think you need to look at are batteries which you can also purchase. Their Sump Pro is also an awesome product which is basically a battery holder with a power converter. So if your electric ever goes out both pumps continue to work on battery power instead of just the small battery backup pump

      Sean K


    1. Without knowing more I would say that you have a switch issue. Not sure whether or not you have a diaphragm or a float switch but that could very well be the cause of the short cycling. Go buy a piggyback switch and try that. It’s worth the 30 bucks to try and fix yourself.

      Sean K

  9. I have a sump system, but I would like to move the sump pit from the southwest corner of the basement to the northeast corner. Electricity and water discharge would not be a problem in the new location. Is such a project feasible?

    1. For sure it is feasible. It’s a fairly large project thought. I’m sure if the drain tile was completed during the home’s construction it is installed on the exterior of the foundation. You have to excavated outside the home and find the drain tile, then go inside the house and break up the floor at the location where you want your new pit installed and excavate down to a depth to accommodate your new pit. You have to go back outside dig under the foundation and extend the draintile under the foundation into the new pit excavation. There is more to this but I will paraphrase, install the new pit, insert drain discharge piping into pit, backfill pit with pea gravel or 3/4 stone. Backfill outside, you can remove the old sump pit but you can also just connect the two discharge ends of the drain tile together back fill with stone and cement over the old pit with 2″ to 3″ of concrete. Install the new pump and discharge appropriately.

  10. I have a sump pit that is basically a 12 inch terra cotta chimney flue. 12 x 12 x 12 inches deep. There is about 6 inches of water in the pit at all times. It seems the water enters the pit through the bottom only. Calm weather pump doesn’t run. Rainy weather pump cycles on and off every few minutes. Very stormy and pump will cycle on and off immediately after each cycle. Water level drops and immediately reenters the pit. Thinking of installing an 18 inch by 22 inch pit. Thoughts?

    1. You obviously need a much larger sump pit. The larger the pit capacity the longer your pump cycle will be, instead of your on-off-on-off-on……. Much easier on your pump.

  11. Hi Sean, I am in Northern Calif next to a hill with ground water/high water table. We installed a french drain around the perimeter of the house and it works well to keep the water out of the crawl space. Sometimes during sever rains, the ground water gets into the crawl space. We installed a sump pump in the crawl space about two feet from the french drain…it is about 12″ deeper than the french drain. Will the deeper depth cause the pump to cycle on 24/7 because it is deeper than the french drain? If we raise the sump pump to be above the french drain, will the pump collect just the ground water in the first 12″ or so?

    1. This is a great question. French drains certainly work. I’d rather put drain tile around the house and run it to a basin with a sump pump. This takes care of both problems in one shot. So on to your question, Because you have the sump pump lower than the french drain you probably aren’t getting the bulk of the water. The french drain is collecting the ground water and dispersing. If you raised the pump you’d be getting more water. One thing I might suggest to take care of the issue for good would be to install drain tile around the part of the house with the crawl space and run the piping to the sump pit in the crawl space. It may be a bit more work but you are solving the problem permanently.

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