Sump Pump Review

What Factors Should Be Reviewed?

There are eight major factors to consider when comparing sump pumps: mechanism causing the sump pump to operate, material used in construction, operational capability, dimensions, size of discharge, protection against spherical solids or sludge, energy consumption and manufacturer’s warranty.

1. Mechanisms Causing the Sump Pump to Operate

What Are the Different Types of Mechanisms?

Sump pumps operate when water triggers the mechanism that activates the pump.

  • Tether floats hang freely from the side of the pump. As the water raises so does the float which triggers a switch that activates the pump. When the water level drops the float lowers to the side of the pump.
  • Vertical floats have a ball that moves up and down on a vertical rod. As the water surrounding the pump raises, the float also raises and triggers the switch and hence activates the pump. When the water level lowers the ball lowers.
  • A diaphragm is a membrane, located on a drum shaped mechanism on the side of the pump, which is sensitive to water pressure. As the water level raises, the water pressure increases and the diaphragm becomes concave, thereby activating the switch to turn on the sump pump. When the water level drops, the switch turns off.
  • A probe is sensitive to water pressure and the pump is activated electronically.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Different Mechanisms?

  • The tether float gets obstructed from movement easier; the switches require more frequent replacement, however, the pump is cheaper.
  • The vertical float is protected against obstruction of movement; the switch requires more frequent replacement than a diaphragm or probe but less than the tether float. Some brands offer the ability to change the switch without removing the sump pump fom the pit.
  • A diaphragm and probe are very dependable and require less service.

2. Materials Used in the Construction of Sump Pumps

What Are the Different Materials Used?

  • Thermoplastic: Outer casing is made of a hard, durable plastic.
  • Cast iron and stainless steel or cast iron and cast aluminum: The outer casing and bolts are made of metal.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Different Materials?

  • Plastic weighs less and is cheaper.
  • Cast iron, stainless steel and cast aluminum last a lifetime, weigh more and are constructed to handle heavy duty usage. This material is more expensive.

3. Operational Capacity

What Are the Volumes at Which Pumps Can Discharge Water?

  • Generally the higher the horse power (HP) the greater the volume of water that can be moved per minute (or per hour) at a specific height.
  • HP ranges from ¼, 1/3, 4/10, ½, and ¾.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of HP Capability?

  • High horse powered pumps keep up with heavy flow of water into the pit.
  • Low horse powered pumps use less electricity.

4. Dimensions of Sump Pump and Pit

  • Each sump pump has unique measurements.
  • A sump pit with an 18″diameter basin or larger provides the greatest flexibility in selecting a sump pump.
  • A tether float requires a larger diameter-based pit than a vertical float or diaphragm pump.

5. Size of Discharge Port Diameter

What Are the Different Sizes?

  • Some are garden hose or 1 ¼ inches in diameter.
  • The standard size is 1 ½ inches in diameter.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Different Sizes?

  • The smaller the discharge port diameter the smaller HP the pump should be.
  • A size of 1 ½ inches is required to handle heavy volumes of water.

6. Protection Against Debris, Sludge, or Spherical Solids

  • Most pump cages are built with a cage bottom that concaves causing particles to run off.
  • The capacity to handle spherical solids varies by pump: ¼ inch to ½ inch.

7. Energy Consumption

  • Some sump pumps are registered as energy efficient.
  • Other manufactures are redesigning their pumps to be more energy efficient.

8. Manufacturer’s Warranty

What Manufacturer’s Warranties Exist?

  • No warranty
  • One to five years
  • Lifetime limited
  • Full lifetime

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Warranty?

  • No warranty may mean manufactures are very confident of their product’s quality.
  • The purchase price of the pump may be higher because the cost of a warranty is included.
  • Limited warranties will not pay the entire cost to fix or replace faulty parts.
  • The length of warranty is usually based on the length of time most of the pumps are known to operate without failure.
  • Lifetime warranties indicate the company is confident of how long the pump will function without failure.

How Can You Determine Which Sump Pump is Best for You?

The following situations are provided to help you make your decision.

A. Do you have a sump pit diameter under or over 12″?

  • The Basement Watchdog sump pump regardless of HP is the smallest pump in width (6 to 7″).
  • If the pit diameter is under 12″, the Simer 1/3 HP and Little Giant 1/3 HP will fit.
  • If the pit diameter is 18″, you have most flexibility in model selection.

B. Does your sump pit get much water during heavy rains?

  • If not, a 1/3 HP will be sufficient.
  • If yes, a 3/4 HP is recommended.

C. Do you want to exchange a faulty float/switch mechanism without having to remove the entire pump from the sump pit?

  • The Basement Watchdog sump pump float/switch mechanism is attached to the discharge pipe thus by unclamping it you can raise it up, exchange the faulty switch, lower the cage into the pit and clamp in onto the discharge pipe.

D. Do you get a lot of heavy rain casing your sump pump to run continuously for hours?

  • The larger horse powered models (3/4 HP) are built for continuous operation. This includes Basement Watchdog, Flotec, Little Giant’s Big John and Wayne.

E. Is sump pump durability important?

  • The 3/4 HP pumps for Flotec and Wayne have full lifetime warranty.
  • The 3/4 HP pump for Simer have a limited lifetime warranty.
  • Little Giant pumps have no warranty.
  • The pumps under 3/4 HP have warranties varying from one to five years.

F. Is float switch failure of concern?

  • The Little John IntelliSwitch diaphragm, and the Wayne Switch Genius are the longer lasting switch types. The Basement Watchdog has two switches so if one fails the other one begins operating.

G. Is energy consumption of concern?

  • To date, the Basement Watchdog uses the least amount with only 3 to 4 amps depending upon the amount of HP.

H. Are you concerned about sump pump switch failure and have an 18″ diameter pit or larger?

  • Installing two sump pumps will provide added peace of mind. Two Basement Wasthdogs would fit. That would provide four operating switches with three years warranty per pump.
  • One 3/4 HP Flotec or Simer with one Basement Watchdog would fit.The Flotec and Simer offer lifetime warranties. The Basement Watchdog has two switches and you don’t have to remove the pump from the pit to change them as you would with other pumps.