My neighbor thinks I need a sump pump. Do I really need one?

- Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Sump pumps are often used to pump water out of a basement when water leaks occur. Is that a prime solution or are sump pumps simply a Band-Aid for the real cause of the water problem?

Narrator: The topic of today's podcast: My neighbor thinks I need a sump pump. Do I really need one? So, Adam, sump pumps are used to pump water out of a basement when the water leaks are going on. Right? So is the prime solution a sump pump for most homes, or is it simply a band aid for the real cause of the water problem?

Adam: Well, the answer is very complicated because it depends on how the water is coming in. And we get this question a lot from customers who will call in or send an email as we just reach out in general saying, Hey! I think I need a sump pump. When can you come out and take a look? And the reality is that a sump pump has a very specific purpose, and the purpose is to deal with the rising water table underneath the house. So if you have a foundation crack, a bulkhead that's leaking, a water coming around a pipe penetration, high rods, or any of these other services that we talk about, all the time, a sump pump is not really going to solve this issue because that's water coming from the top of the foundation down to the ground and through the foundation itself. The sump pump's primary job is to be a pressure relief device for the foundation.

So if you think of a rain event, most rain events are going to be short lived within a 24 hour period at most for most rain events, and you kind of move through. It's when you have consistent rain events either in a heavy rain cycle like early spring or if you have a lot of stormy seasons, like, we've had this past year, when you have continuous rain, continuous rain, that’s when it affects the global water table. And the water table is if you were to just dig down and keep digging eventually, you'll hit a level where there's just standing water in the ground. And it's different for all different places. It could be 18 inches in certain places. It could be 300 feet down, and it really it's hard to know unless you have some hydrological maps.

So when the rising water table comes up after a consistent rain event, it puts pressure on the foundation, and it finds all the seams around the perimeter, cracks, and floor, you name it, and basically your house is sitting in a bathtub below the waterline, and the water's just going to find a way in. So a sump pump is really going to be the lowest point. So it's below the foundation floor. So the floor gets jackhammered out, dug down usually between a foot and a half to two and a half feet down and a pump gets placed down at the very bottom of that well that we put in there. And that is now the place where the water will start to rise and hit that first, and you're able to safely eject that outside so you're not actually building pressure underneath the floor. So a lot of people say, like, well, I need this, but I have a crack in the foundation, and that's where the water's coming in. And I like to put a sump pump right by there. And while the solution may work as a device to collect the water that falls into the foundation, a simple crack repair might be the right solution there. But in certain cases where we want a sump pump is where you're sitting in a water table issue.

And so that is an appropriate solution for a lot of cases where you're just you can't seal the entire perimeter or you can't seal underneath the floor. This is the, kind of, the 1st line of defense. And so we usually advise customers as they install a sump pump is that you still may get water in different places, and then we can use a more targeted approach where we can actually inject a certain area, whether it's where the floor and the wall meet, or seal floor cracks, but the workhorse of the water removal is going to be from the sump pump itself. The other misconception that we get a lot about sump pumps is where it's placed. People say, oh, well, I get water over here, and I get water on this side as well, but I don't know how the water's going to make it from here to here.

Well, again, we're not really sweeping or squeegeeing the water from one side to the other. It is a collection vessel. More is supposed to be getting from the ground water up. So as that water table rises up, it should be uniform across the floor. Unless it's a perfect situation, especially if you have a very old house, but in theory, as the water table rises, it's going to find wherever that lowest point is. So we do place the pump in a strategic location that is not in the middle of a living space downstairs or not in the area that would be an obstruction. So we try to put it around the perimeter, and we also look at the land and how the land slopes to see where it's going to be the most likely point for water to come in. So sump pumps, they are a great solution, but they're not the end all solution for every water event.

A lot of cases it's more of a water table issue solution than it is a rain event where it's coming through the foundation wall. So if you're not sure or you're getting conflicting advice, then reach out. Make sure that we kind of help direct you to it because at the end of the day, we want to make sure you have the right solution, not just the one that we want to push on you.

Narrator: Well thanks, Adam, for explaining the value of sump pumps in managing basement water problems.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit or call Adam at (866) 929-3171. Or you can email Adam at Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.

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A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.

Toll Free: 866-929-3171

Call Us Today at 866-929-3171

A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.