A Sump Pump Is A Submersible Pump Designed To Remove Water From A Basement Or Another Below-ground Area.

Water naturally seeks its own level. If part of your home is below ground, rainwater and run-off may pool and seep through your home’s foundation. The sump pump detects unwanted rain or run-off water and automatically pumps it up and out of the house to prevent flooding, rot, and mold. Pumps work in high water volume or low water volume scenarios.

Water Triggers the Pump

Pumps usually run on electricity and sit in a “pit”, a small area dug into the basement floor that creates the lowest level in the basement. As water collects in the pit, a float mechanism rises and triggers a switch to activate the pump. The water is pumped outside, away from the home’s foundation. The water is usually directed into a drain, or into a pipe outside the house.

As the water level in the pit drops, the float goes down and the pump shuts off.

Sump pumps are enclosed in a waterproof casing of either cast iron, another metal, or plastic. Filters keep out any debris in the water before pumping. Pumps must be maintained because they will fail if there is a lot of sediment in the water or if they are constantly cycling on and off. Under good conditions, a sump pump will last 6 to 10 years.

Storms and Power Outages

In a storm, a sump pump may be working overtime to remove rain and stormwater run-off. If the electricity goes out, the pump will fail and the basement may flood.

To prevent flooding during a power outage, install a water-powered backup pump. The backup pump will take over the pump operation until the power goes back on and the main pump can resume.

Backup Pump

The water-powered pump kicks in when water fills the sump pit, passes the main pump float, and triggers the water-powered float. The float movement causes a valve to open that pulls fresh water through the pipes and creates powerful suction. The rainwater is sucked up and discharged outdoors.

The backup pump cycles off when the sump pit is empty and repeats the cycle when the water rises again.

A water powered sump pump should not be considered for the main pump because it relies on fresh water and the result would be a very high water bill.


  • To maintain the sump pump, check the pit periodically and remove any debris, leaves, dog toys, or other objects that have made their way into the pit. A small item could prevent the pump float from rising and triggering the mechanism. Keep a cover over the pit if there is lots of activity in the basement.
  • At least once per year, unplug the sump pump and check to see if there is sediment or debris under it. If so, clean it out.
  • The pumping action creates a distinct sound. If the pump is making any other unusual noises, have the pumped checked.
  • Notice if water is being discharged outside. Even though the pump is running, make sure water is really flowing out as expected.
  • If the pump has a battery backup, check the batteries to make sure they are still hold a charge. Replace the batteries at least every two years to ensure they are ready when needed.
  • In non-rainy seasons, check that the pump is working by pouring a bucket of water into the pit and seeing if the pumping action is triggered. Pour in enough water to activate the float mechanism. If the pump doesn’t start, call Raymark Plumbing & Sewer to get it checked.

Call Raymark Plumbing & Sewer for any sump pump needs. We contain water. (206) 440-9077.

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