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Sump Pump Installation: A Step-by-Step Guide to Get the Water Out

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Did you know that installing a sump pump can keep your basement from flooding? To make things even better, if you know how to install it yourself you save yourself some serious money! Many older homes were designed with poor basement waterproofing. Let's face it, there's a lot of new products and methods available today that just weren't on the market even 10 or 15 years ago, let alone 50!

Installing a sump pump is one way that homeowners can protect an at-risk home, and it might be the most practical solution to keeping your basement water free.

Is a Sump Pump Necessary?

Installing a sump pump may not be your first line of defense for a leaking basement. Frequently there are other things that can be done before this step. The first thing you should check is your outdoor drainage. Poor drainage can often be the cause of a leaking basement.

Sometimes installing a French drain can solve the problem, other times it can be as easy as the slope of your landscaping. First check that the soil within 3 feet of your home slopes away from your house.

A house's gutters is a common problem when it comes to basement leaking and landscape pooling. Here's a few tips to follow regarding gutters:

  • First, clean your gutters and check for clogs. Frequently leafs and debris clog near the downspouts. If water isn't able to drain, it will spill over the gutters and begin to pool around your basement's foundation. 
  • Once you've determined that your gutters and downspouts are properly functioning, check where they are depositing the water. The end of the downspout should either drop the water into a drain that will take the water underground to another location or drop the water at least 4 or 5 feet away from your foundation.

If you've ruled out your landscaping, drainage and gutter system, then there's a good chance that the problem is being caused by hydrostatic pressure and you may have a crack in your basement floor or the wall of your foundation. Although these issues should be addressed as well, some of the solutions require a sump pump installation.

Necessary Supplies

You'll need an electric jackhammer (you should be able to rent one hourly) 

XtremepowerUS 2200Watt Heavy Duty Electric Demolition Jack hammer Concrete Breaker W/Case, Gloves

Electric Jackhammer

Although an electric jackhammer is the most common tool used, you could use a heavy duty hammer drill with a masonry bit; a sledgehammer and a masonry chisel; or a demolition saw designed to cut concrete instead.

How to Install a Sump Pump

Preparation is key in any project and installing a sump pump is no exception. Here's a few things you should consider:

  • Before beginning your sump pump project it's a good idea to find out if your home was built on gravel. Most homes over 30 years old were, but knowing what lies beneath your basement before you start digging is always a good idea.
  • Never dig your sump pit during a rainy season or anytime when the groundwater level is higher than normal. Digging a hole in the floor of your basement may cause the water to rush inside without any resistance. The best time to undertake a sump pump installation project is during the dry season when the groundwater level is usually at it's lowest point of the year.
  • Select your location. Ideally your sump pump should be placed about 8 inches away from the basement wall. It should also be in an area where a hole can be punched through a rim joist.
  • Know what runs under your house. It's not uncommon for sewer and water lines to be laid under your house when it was being built. Always use caution prior to digging. In many cases, the water lines that are under the floor enter from the street and are 4 to 6 feet from the sewer pipe. If you are uncertain, you can check building codes or hire a surveyor to check your home. 


Once you determine the location to install your sump pump, place the sump liner on the ground and trace an outline on the floor so that you'll know the size of the hole to dig.

A good rule of thumb when tracing the liner is to over estimate the hole by 3 to 4 inches. This leave you more than enough room for the sump pump. Extra space can be filled with gravel and concrete once the liner is in place.

Concrete Removal

Now it's time to break through the concrete floor. Using a jackhammer is generally the easiest way.

Cut the concrete into manageable square blocks. They should  be about 8 to 12 inches in diameter. Then move the jackhammer at an angle so that you can pry the concrete blocks upward to allow you to remove them. 

If you prefer not to use a jackhammer, a hammer drill rigged with a masonry bit along with a sledge hammer and masonry chisel will work. Use the masonry bit to make holes in the concrete every 3 inches. Then use the hammer and chisel to crack and break the concrete between the holes. A demolition saw will also work.

Sometimes basement floors are built with a steel mesh within the concrete. If this is the case with your floor, you'll need a pair of heavy wire cutters or a metal grinder to cut through the wire when you're breaking thru the floor. 

Digging the Sump Pit

You can begin digging your sump pit once the concrete is removed. The pit should be 12 inches deeper than the sump liner. At the bottom of the hole use coarse gravel (gravel with an aggregate of 3/8 to 1/2 inches). This will encourage good drainage.

Mutual Industries 1524ADL Sump Pit, 15" x 24"

Sump Pit Liner

There should be enough gravel at the bottom of the pit so that the liner is flush with the basement floor. You may find it necessary to drill a few holes within the liner so that the water will be allowed to get inside the liner and be pumped out. The diameter of the holes must be smaller than the gravel size. This will prevent gravel from entering the sump liner. 

Place the liner within the sump pit. Shovel coarse gravel along the edges, but leave 6 inches between the gravel and the floor.

Pour a 6 inch layer of concrete on top of the gravel.. The concrete should be mixed:  1 part cement, 2 parts sand, and 3 parts gravel and then with water. Use a trowel to smooth the top of the concrete so that it will be flush with the floor and the liner.

You will need to wait at least 8 hours until the concrete has had time to set before moving to the next step.

Installing the Sump Pump

Always refer to your pump's instruction manual, but most sump pumps have a 1-1/2 inch diameter threaded discharge port which you need to thread a 1-1/2 inch PVC male adapter onto. Tighten the PVC adapter with pliers until it feels snug.

Zoeller M53 Mighty-mate Submersible Sump Pump, 1/3 Hp

Then, using PVC cement, glue a schedule-40 PVC riser to the male adapter. Determine the length of the riser by the height of the pit liner. The top of the riser should be just above the top of the liner.

You are now ready to put the sump pump into the sump pit. Once in place, you'll need to set-up the check valve. The check valve is used to remove the water left within the tube when the pump is turned off and will prevent the motor from burning out.

Position the valve with the arrow pointing up. Then tighten the lower coupling over the riser with a screwdriver. The valve usually comes with hose clamps and rubber couplings.

Directing the Water Outside

Make a path for the PVC to run from inside your basement to outside your house. Bore a hole through the rim joist and use a hole saw to punch a hole through the rim joist and the siding.

Getting the right spot is critical, so drill a 1/4-inch hole through the rim joist and siding from inside the basement. Locate the 1/4-inch hole on the outside of your house and then finish drilling the hole with a 2-inch bit from outside.

Now it's time to begin assembling the PVC piping. Start at the check valve and lay the pipe to the hole that you just drilled. Never glue the pipe in place without dry-fitting the pipe first.

Use caulking to seal the inside and outside contact points and cut the pipe outside the house so that only 1/2-inch is extending outside. Glue a 90-degree elbow pointing downward to the end of the extending pipe.

Don't forget to direct the water away from your house's foundation. This can be done by connecting a hose to the piping  and running the other end where you want the water to drain. 

Trial Run

Now it's time to test your sump pump. Put some water into the sump pit and observe your pump moving the water outside. Check for leaks in the PVC connection points and be sure that the water is being deposited in the spot you chose. 

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