• In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shows how to avoid basement floods by correctly installing a sump pump.


    1 Set sump basin upside down on basement floor; mark its outline on floor.
    2 Use demolition hammer to chop through concrete floor.
    3 Dig hole deep enough to set basin flush with floor.
    4 Wrap the sump basin with filter fabric.
    5 Set the basin in the hole.
    6 Add several inches of gravel to basin.
    7 Lay stone paver on top of gravel.
    8 Set pump on top of paver.
    9 Connect check valve and PVC pipe to pump; run pipe up a nearby wall.
    10 Drill hole through house wall with hole saw.
    11 Continue PVC pipe through wall and extend to the outdoors.
    12 Mix concrete in trough using a hoe.
    13 Fill in around the basin top with concrete; smooth the concrete with a pointed trowel.
    14 Plug in pump, then test it by filling the basin with water.

    See products and services from this episode
    • Difficulty: Moderate to hard
      Chopping through concrete and digging the sump-basin hole is hard work, even with an electric demo hammer
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      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • cold chisel
        Electric demolition hammer
        used to chop hole through concrete floor
      • square shovel
      • drill
      • keyhole saw
        Hole saw
      • hand hoe
        used to mix concrete
      • pointing trowel
        Pointed trowel
        used to smooth concrete
      • utility knife
        Utility knife
        used to cut filter fabric

      Shopping List

      1. Submersible sump pump

      2. Sump basin

      houses sump pump

      3. Indelible marker

      used to mark sump basin outline on floor

      4. Filter fabric

      to keep silt from clogging sump basin

      5. Gravel

      used to partially fill sump basin

      6. Stone paver

      used to create level base for sump pump

      7. PVC pipe and assorted fitting

      forms drain line from pump to outdoors

      8. PVC primer and cement

      used to glue together PVC pipe and fittings

      9. Check valve

      used to prevent water from flowing back into pump

      10. Paintable caulk

      used to seal around PVC pipe that exits the house

      11. Concrete trough or wheelbarrow

      used to mix concrete

      12. Concrete

      used to encase sump basin