The 10 Best Sump Pumps
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in February of 2015. If your home's basement is carved out of moist soil, it's likely you will need an effective and reliable way to keep that water from causing structural damage. Our selection of sump pumps includes several options that should do the trick, from basic utility models and battery-operated backups, to some powerful commercial-grade monsters that are capable of handling flooding. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
February 05, 2020:
You want to prioritize your buying decisions around reliability, since the warranty on your pump isn’t as valuable as it is with many other products, as most of the work (or cost) is in the installation - if the pump fails, you’re the one who’s going to have to get it out. Plus, you can only tell its failed once your basin’s flooded, and that’s when you need the pump the most! So, you really shouldn’t care about warranties as much with pumps. Material considerations though, are important, and I’ve purged this list of all the thermoplastic options with the exception of one option I’ve left – the Wayne 57729 - because it’s a highly recommended model from a good brand, and it has a nice electronic-switch mechanism, though I’ve demoted it to last place. The reason is that, while on paper, some plastics may look strong, in practice, thermoplastic pumps tend to crack and develop commonly-reported issues over time from the high pressure. Cast iron is a much better choice.
I’ve also gotten rid of pumps that I think would get jammed in the process of filtering out rocks and debris from sump water; fortunately, there was only one pump with a base that would likely get jammed, and it was also thermoplastic. Since all the options in the list before the update were electric (motor-run, primary) pumps, I wanted to include one or two good backup (secondary) options, the first of which is the powerful, battery-operated Basement Watchdog BWSP (a brand which makes some very good backup options), and the second is the water-‘powered’ Liberty SJ10.
I’ve also included a combination pump – the Wayne Combination WSS30VN of which the electrically-operated primary system should give you 85 GPM @ 0' (58 GPM @ 10'), and the battery-operated secondary system will give you around 48 GPM @ 0'. I only wanted to include variety where practical, so I’ve refrained from adding any pedestal pumps, because submersible pumps are generally a lot better and more reliable. Also, since all the remaining primary pumps are reliable, I’ve reordered the list to roughly reflect the value for money that they deliver, i.e. cost / capacity (GPM @ 10’ lift).
I don’t want to talk too much about switches, but while these pumps all have decent vertical floats, no switch is immune to getting caught (tethered floats usually have this issue) or filling up with water (if the buoy is hollow), so it’s always handy to install an electronic water-level sensor if you can, like a magnetic float switch.
Do You Really Need A Sump Pump?
Get a quality sump pump, and that’s one less thing you have to worry about.
Panic boils up inside of you, gradually, as you watch the water level steadily creep up the basement wall, enveloping your belongings and soaking your furniture. Anyone unfortunate enough to have experienced this situation during a heavy rainstorm knows this helpless feeling.
On the bright side, these experiences teach you something else: the value of a sump pump.
Keeping water out of your basement or crawlspace is an essential component of maintaining a safe, structurally sound home. The buildup of water can weaken your foundation, promote the growth of mold and algae, cause paint to peel off, and even trigger an electrical fire. Needless to say, none of these outcomes are good – for your own health, or for the property value of your home.
The sump pump’s primary purpose is to prevent flooding damage. When a heavy rain triggers flash flooding, the water can pile up quickly. Especially if you’re not prepared for it, this can devastate your home. Yes, it’s capable of destroying your floor, walls, and valuables — but a lot of the damage occurs behind the scenes, as the added water pressure can significantly destabilize the infrastructure of your house. A quality sump pump does not allow this to happen.
A persistent presence of moisture in your basement will contribute to the growth of mold, mildew, and algae. Not only does this play a role in the aforementioned structural problems, but it can pose significant health risks to you and your family, as well. The accumulation of mold and mildew can lead to groundwater contamination, insect infestations, and the spread of toxins. Algae can make your floor very slippery, which increases the threat of physical injury.
Excess water causing a fire may sound counterintuitive, but if water levels rise high enough, the floodwater can short-circuit appliances like laundry machines and water heaters. This process can easily spark an electrical fire, creating an even more disastrous situation in your home.
Long story short, there’s no such thing as a little harmless floodwater. Get a quality sump pump, and that’s one less thing you have to worry about.
Choosing The Appropriate Pump
Sump pumps are available in a few different styles, but let’s focus on the most common type first: the primary sump pump. These are the standard pumps you find in most residences; they run on electricity and are usually capable of pumping up to several thousand gallons of water per hour to protect your home from flooding.
You can choose from two types of primary sump pumps: submersible and pedestal.
Rather than go to the trouble of purchasing and installing all of these separate pumps, you can opt for the all-in-one solution: a combination pump.
If you have the space for a large pit, a submersible pump is the wise choice. You place it fully underwater in your sump pump basin, then cover it with an airtight lid to reduce noise, prevent debris from falling in, and keep moist air from penetrating your home. An added benefit of the fully submerged motor is that the water works to keep it cool during extended use, diminishing the risk of it overheating and shutting down at the most inopportune time.
With a pedestal pump, the motor remains out of the water, above your sump basin. These pumps are ideal for small or narrow basins, as they don’t require as much space. Pedestal pumps are serviceable, but as the more efficient, longer lasting, and quieter model, a submersible pump is the superior option in most cases.
If you already have a primary pump that’s functioning properly, you may be in the market for a secondary or backup pump. A secondary pump is typically installed right next to the primary pump, and it automatically takes over if and when the primary pump gets overwhelmed and shuts down. A battery-powered backup pump is a good idea, too, as it provides extra insurance in case your power goes out during a storm.
Rather than go to the trouble of purchasing and installing all of these separate pumps, you can opt for the all-in-one solution: a combination pump. With a primary and battery backup pump all in one package, you should be in good shape no matter what happens.
Once all of your new sump pumps are installed, make sure to test them regularly. As an additional precaution, it’s also not a bad idea to look for one with an alarm to alert you when the water reaches a certain level.
Installation and Maintenance
I spent seven summers in my youth working as a laborer for a plumbing company, so I can tell you from experience: installing a sump pump from scratch is no cakewalk. Even if you disregard the complex plumbing methodology behind it, it can be back-breaking physical work. If you’re going to take on a project like this by yourself, make sure you’re fit enough to handle the physical aspects of the job and familiar with the technical knowledge required for this particular undertaking.
However, if you live somewhere with a high water table or extreme weather conditions, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to do checks more frequently.
Those of you without that expertise should hire a professional plumber to install your sump pump, but there are still a couple things you can do to prepare. Before you bring in the pros, scope out a location near a power outlet with enough space for a pit that will accommodate the style of pump you’ve chosen. Furthermore, if you want to save a few bucks and don’t mind getting a little dirty, no one’s stopping you from digging the pit yourself.
Sump pumps, like any household mechanical device, eventually break down from overuse or general wear and tear. To ensure everything is in working order, you should do a thorough examination of your equipment every year. However, if you live somewhere with a high water table or extreme weather conditions, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to do checks more frequently.
When you inspect your pump, make sure to clean off any dirt and other debris, as these obstructions can prevent the pump from draining properly, which can lead to an overflow. They can also cause the check valve to jam. Keep your pump clean to avoid these problems and increase efficiency.