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What Is a Sump Pump? A Practical Guide for Homeowners

3 min read • January 24th, 2023

Heil Plumbing
Top of of black sump basin on concrete floor with two white plastic pipes going down into it

What Is a Sump Pump? 

A sump pump is an essential plumbing fixture that protects your home from water damage. As water travels through your home’s foundation, special piping (i.e., the drain tile) diverts it to a basin. The sump pump is located inside the basin, which pumps unneeded water away from your home, letting you sleep easily, knowing you won’t have moisture building up in your basement or crawl spaces.

If you think your sump pump isn’t working correctly, it’s essential to learn how to replace your sump pump or call a professional to take care of the repair. This will prevent dangerous flooding from wreaking havoc in your home. 

Watch the video below and keep reading to learn:

  • What is a sump pump?
  • How does a sump pump work?
  • Will my sump pump work if the power goes out?
  • Where is my sump pump located?
  • Who needs a sump pump?
  • How long do sump pumps last?
  • How do I know it’s time to replace my sump pump?

How Does a Sump Pump Work?

A sump pump protects your home from flooding and water damage. The device sits inside a basin that’s typically about two feet deep. The basin contains standing water. Once the water level rises, a float is activated and pumps out excess moisture. This prevents underground areas of your home (e.g., your basement, cellar, or crawl space) from filling with water. 

Once the float returns to its original position, your sump pump stops running until it’s reactivated by rising water.

Sump pump submerged in basin filled with cloudy water. But how does a sump pump work?


Will My Sump Pump Work if the Power Goes Out?

Usually, no. While your sump pump can protect you from flooding caused by severe storms, it will not operate during power outages. So if you don’t have an alternate power source, such as a generator or battery, your sump pump will not work. 

Therefore any underground area of your home is at risk of flooding when the power goes out. If you live in an area prone to heavy storms and power failure, consider getting a battery backup or backup sump pump that’s powered by water or battery. This precaution is certainly worth the thousands of dollars that water damage by the flood could cost you. 

Where Is My Sump Pump Located?

Your sump pump is located beneath your basement floor or crawl space. It’s often covered by a lid, keeping it out of the way and ensuring water levels stay at bay.

Who Needs a Sump Pump?

You likely need a sump pump if part of your home is below ground level. A sump pump can be a valuable device to protect against water damage. It can save you from the headache, danger, and expense of costly repairs down the road.

How Long Do Sump Pumps Last?

Typically, your sump pump will last up to 10 years. However, if you rely on your sump pump to expel water from an area that tends to flood or experiences heavy rainfall, you might need to replace it every five years to make sure it operates effectively. Staying on top of sump pump replacements and repairs is essential to keeping your home dry and free from water damage. 

Eddie the plumber, wearing blue, crouches next to a black sump pump. But what is a sump pump?

How Do I Know It’s Time to Replace My Sump Pump?

If you notice any of the following, it’s probably time to replace your sump pump:

  • Rust that you cannot remove
  • Noises such as humming, rattling, or banging
  • Moldy odors in your basement, cellar, or crawl space
  • Water damage in any below-ground areas of your home

If you notice any of these signs your sump pump is deteriorating, it’s time to call an expert plumber. Otherwise, take the next step in honing your DIY skills, and learn how to replace your sump pump like a professional.

Looking for other sump pump services or just for a reliable professional plumber? Contact Heil Plumbing to schedule an appointment with a trustworthy plumber in Baltimore or the surrounding area.  Live closer to D.C.?  Our trustworthy Montgomery County plumbers are here for you. 


Eddie Heil

8177 Mission Rd Jessup, MD, 20794, United States

(410) 799-7727

Schedule Service


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