A sump pump is an emergency device that uses sensors to detect and pump rising water levels in your basement. To help you select a sump pump that’s right for your home, the This Old House Reviews team researched the best sump pumps on Amazon. Here are our top picks.
Most Compact: Superior Pump Store 1/4-Horsepower Utility Pump
This ¼-horsepower sump pump weighs just 6.8 pounds and moves up to 1,800 gallons of water per hour to help keep your basement or low-lying area safe from floodwater. Built with thermoplastic, this sump pump is a compact and durable flood-prevention device that includes a removable suction screen to handle solids up to ⅛ inch thick. Additionally, the sump pump comes with a 10-foot power cord and a versatile discharge hookup that’s compatible with a garden or discharge hose.
Best Submersible Pump: Zoeller M53 Mighty-Mate Sump Pump
This submersible sump pump is built with cast-iron motor components that withstand a variety of conditions and keep your home protected from rising water levels. This sump pump includes a float-activated switch that automatically powers the pump when it detects rising water levels. Along with its automated design, the powerful sump pump discharges up to 43 gallons of water per minute. Additionally, the product comes with a nine-foot power cord and can take in solids up to ½ inch thick.
Best Power: Wayne Submersible Cast-Iron and Stainless-Steel Sump Pump
This sump pump is powered by a ¾-horsepower motor that’s activated by a vertical float switch to keep your basement dry even if you’re not home. It’s designed with quality cast iron and stainless steel, minimizing the risk of air locks and clogs. The sump pump works in sump basins that are 11 inches or larger and can discharge water up 20-foot inclines. Additionally, this model has an easy installation process that only takes about 15 minutes.
Best Battery Backup: Wayne Upgraded Combination Battery Back-Up Sump Pump
This sump pump is built for large 16-inch sump basins and has a built-in backup battery that pumps up to 10,000 gallons of water on a single charge. It contains a ½-horsepower motor protected by a durable cast-iron and epoxy-coated steel frame. The pump is powered by electricity but uses its backup battery to work through power outages, helping keep your home safe from flood damage at all times. Its versatile design and quality construction can pump up to 5,100 gallons of water per hour.
Most Versatile: Superior Pump Cast-Iron Submersible Sump Pump
This sump pump is equipped with a piggy-back plug that lets homeowners automatically or manually turn on the pump to discharge up to 2,760 gallons of water per hour. It includes a ⅓-horsepower motor contained inside of a heavy-duty cast-iron frame that secures the pump inside the sump pit. As a result of its powerful motor, the pump can move water up inclines as large as 20 feet. Additionally, the sump pump comes with a removable screen filter that’s easy to clean.
Types of Sump Pumps
There are four main types of sump pumps: submersible, pedestal, battery backup, and combination.
Submersible sump pumps are completely submerged in the pit, or sump basin, that’s located below your basement’s floor. Once the pit fills with a certain amount of water, a sensor is triggered, which turns on the sump pump to pump the water out. This type of sump pump is typically quieter than other types of sump pumps because its motor is inside the pump, but it’s more expensive than other pumps.
Pedestal sump pumps sit in a basin that’s level with your basement floor and remove water through a pipe that leads to a drainage area in your yard. They’re more affordable than submersible sump pumps, but their motor is attached to the outside of the device, making them noisier.
Unlike submersible and pedestal models that run solely on electricity through a power cord, battery backup sump pumps have a battery-powered backup pump that kicks on when the main unit can’t run due to a power outage. The battery on the backup pump can typically last for a few hours on a single charge. While this is enough for short surges, the battery will eventually die if it’s pumping a lot of water during an hours-long outage.
Combination sump pumps include the power cord of pedestal and submersible models and the backup battery of battery models, allowing them to work in all situations. They usually sit in a below-the-floor basin like submersible sump pumps, but they’re larger, which means you can’t use the basin you dug for your old submersible sump pump for your new combination sump pump.
Before purchasing a sump pump, it’s important to understand how each model’s design and specifications impact its performance. Here are a few factors to consider when buying a sump pump.
Most sump pumps are powered by electricity, but some models include a battery backup that powers the device in the event of a blackout. For example, the Wayne Upgraded Combination Battery Back-Up Sump Pump includes a 12-volt battery that pumps up to 10,000 gallons of water on a single charge. Models that don’t have a battery backup, like the Superior Pump Cast-Iron Submersible Sump Pump, can pump thousands of gallons of water each hour as long as electricity is available.
The horsepower (HP) of a sump pump’s motor refers to its overall power, with a higher HP motor being able to pump more water per hour than a lower HP motor. Many sump pumps contain ½-HP or ⅓-HP engines, though some models like the Wayne Submersible Cast-Iron and Stainless-Steel Sump Pump contain more powerful ¾-HP engines. While higher HP motors can pump more water per hour, they’re typically more expensive.
Most sump pumps use either a digital or manual switch to start their motors. Manual models, including the Superior Pump Cast-Iron Submersible Sump Pump, contain floats that rise with the flood water, turning on the pumps when the water reaches a certain level. When the floats dip below the set level, the pump stops.
Other models feature digital on-and-off sensors. When the water rises to meet the on sensor, the pump starts working. Once the water lowers and reaches the off sensor, the pump turns off. The benefit of digital switches is that they continue pumping water until they reach the off sensor, even if the water level dips below the on sensor.
Many sump pumps come with audible alarms that signal rising water levels in your home. For example, the Wayne Upgraded Combination Battery Back-Up Sump Pump includes a high-pitched alarm that signals when the pump detects water.
Sump pumps are usually made of plastic or some sort of metal, such as aluminum, stainless, steel, or cast iron. Plastic sump pumps are more affordable, but they’re not as durable as metal sump pumps.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the purpose of a sump pump?
A sump pump is typically placed in a basement to detect and pump rising water levels. They help prevent damage caused by significant flooding.
Does my sump pump require regular maintenance?
To ensure that your sump pump functions properly, clean its components at least every three months by following these steps:
- Disconnect the pump from the wall outlet or battery.
- Disconnect the pump’s discharge pipe.
- Bring the pump to your yard.
- Scrape off the grime with a sponge or cloth.
- If there’s too much grime to remove by hand, use a standard garden hose to blast it off.
- Disinfect the pump and its basin by wiping them with bleach, vinegar, or another disinfectant.
- Use a shop vac to clean the remaining debris and water from the basin.
- Reconnect the pump.
Where do sump pumps discharge water?
Most sump pumps send the excess water into a storm drain or dry well.
Do sump pumps smell?
Sump pumps can develop an odor if they haven’t been used in a while. Infrequent use causes the water in the pump’s basin to fully dry, releasing smelly gases into the air. Mold and bacteria growth inside the pump and the basin can also cause a smell.
You can eliminate these odors by creating a solution with a ratio of one cup of bleach for every gallon of water. Pour this solution into the basin until the pump is activated. To prevent an odor from developing in the future, wash your sump pump regularly and keep the basin full of enough fresh water to cover the drain lines.
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