Sump Pump Installation Tips

A sump pump in concrete flooring.
  • 4-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 300-550
What You'll Need
Caulking gun and caulk
Jackhammer (rented)
Cement and trowel
Gloves and eye protection
PVC pipe, fittings, and PVC cement
Sump pump and liner
Hack saw, electric drill

A sump pump may be the solution for frequent basement water leaks. This is especially true for houses located on flat terrains that are prone to basement flooding. Since a flat landscape does not provide much opportunity for water to run off, basement floods are common. Given that the ground is saturated, there is an increase in groundwater pressure. This phenomenon forces the water to penetrate the basement concrete.

When this situation occurs, installing a sump pump is the answer. A “sump” refers to the hole which is dug through the floor of the basement. The sump drains the water while the pump removes it.

Before digging a sump pit, it's important to locate the sewer, water, cable, and gas lines to avoid causing any damage. If you are uncertain where any of these lines are located, contact the appropriate local utility companies for assistance.

The next step is to use a level to find the lowest point in the basement. This is where the sump pump should be positioned as the water will naturally drain to that area.

A level on a wet basement floor.

An ideal place for the sump pump is near an electrical outlet or an exterior wall. Electrical outlets are needed for a power supply from a dedicated GFCI protected circuit, which should be located at least several feet above the floor. Take the precaution of turning off the power supply when replacing/installing a sump pump.

When you’ve determined the location where the sump pump will be placed, do your homework concerning which sump pump to buy that will handle the amount of water accumulated. You will also want a sump pump with a good warranty. Talk to an experienced sales representative about the different manufacturers to ensure you select the one that suits your specific needs.

A sump pump in a concrete floor.

After purchasing the sump pump, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper installation steps, which will include breaking a space in the concrete flooring to place the sump basin and the pump, digging an adequate hole to the necessary depth for the basin and pump, placing and leveling the basin, connecting PVC piping, backfilling the hole with gravel, replacing the concrete, and drilling an exit hole for the drainage pipe.

You will need to determine where the sump pump's exterior pipe will route the drainage. When working with the discharge pipe, it’s important that the run-off from the water being pumped out is dispersed to an area away from the home, preferably at a low point on the property and at least 20 feet away from the structure. You do not want to have water pooling near the foundation of the home, near septic drain fields, or draining onto your neighbor’s property.

When running the exterior drainage pipe, a dry fit test is done to be sure all the pieces fit together and that supports are in place to hold the piping to the joists or walls before PVC cement is applied.

Drainage from a sump pump to outside.

A suggestion for the drained water is recycling it to a flower or vegetable garden, if possible. Wherever you decide to have the water draining, place and keep gravel in the location to keep the area from being soft, muddy, and spongy.

These are just a few tips on sump pump installation. If you have questions, consult an experienced sump pump technician to avoid improper installation, which could lead to inoperable equipment and a voided warranty.