Sump Pump Cover-Up
Should it be covered or sealed up to block out radon gas?
If you have a sump pump set into the concrete floor of your basement, should it be covered or sealed up to block out radon gas? While there's no plumbing-related reason for a sump pump cover, it will prevent objects from falling into the well and young children from playing in it. Also, the local building department might require a cover. Solid and perforated covers are available from most sump well manufacturers, including: Topp Industries (Box 420, Dept. TH499, Rochester, IN 46975; 800/354-4534) and Hancor Inc. (Box 1047, Dept. TH499, Findlay, OH 45839; 800/537-9520, ext. 808). If there's a pipe beneath the floor that drains water into the sump well, buy a solid cover. Install a perforated one if water drains into the well after flowing across the basement floor. Whether or not the sump well should be sealed to block out radon gas depends on whether or not you have a radon problem. Have your basement tested by a radon specialist or buy a test kit at a hardware store or home center. If a dangerously high level of radon gas does exist, sealing the sump would help alleviate the problem, but it won't completely cure it. Radon can enter a home from many places, including floor cracks, holes in the walls and floor drains. If you can't find a cover to fit your sump well, make one out of plywood and seal it to the floor with a foam-rubber gasket, as shown above. Also seal around the penetrations in the cover for the discharge pipe, vent pipe and power cord. Vent the sump to the outdoors or to a vent stack with a 4-in.-dia. PVC pipe. A solid, sealed cover should only be installed on sumps equipped with below-floor pipes that drain directly into the well.
CHARLIE COOK is the owner of Liberty Pump in Bergen, New York, and president of the Sump and Sewage Pump Manufacturers Association.