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How To Install a Basement Sump Pump

Sump pumps are designed to pick up standing water and pump it out to a remote location where it cannot flow back into the original area. Water in a basement causes all kinds of damage. An accumulation of moisture causes the growth of mold, mildew, stains, and encourages dry rot. Installing a sump pump is an effective method of removing accumulations of standing water.

Prepare the sump

Sump pumps work great for eliminating standing water

Sump pumps work great for eliminating standing water

  1. Choose the location for your sump. It should be located in the lowest area of your basement. If you have a problem with standing water, the lowest area will be that where the standing water is the deepest. The sump should also be located close to a source of electricity. Take into consideration where you will route the sump pump discharge line, as well, in choosing the sump pump location.
  2. If your basement floor is solid concrete, cut out an area large enough to accept your sump container with a roto-hammer or electric breaker (jackhammer). It is best to cut out an area of concrete larger than required to allow for digging the sump hole.

Installing the sump tank

  1. The sump container can be anything from a five-gallon paint bucket to a large plastic garbage can. You can also buy a factory made sump pump assembly.
  2. Remove the concrete debris.
  3. Dig out the subsoil to the proper depth for the sump plus enough deeper to allow for a 4” bedding layer of pea gravel.
  4. Place the bedding layer of gravel in the bottom of the sump and level it.
  5. Install the sump tank in the hole. Level it both ways.
  6. Back fill around the sump tank with clean fill and tamp it into place.
  7. Verify that the top of the tank is just at the finish floor level.
  8. Repour concrete around the top of the sump tank. Avoid getting any wet cement in the tank itself.
  9. Finish the concrete with a finishing trowel.

Installing the pump

  1. Prepare the pump for installation by installing an adapter in the discharge of the pump. This fitting is usually a 1 ½” or 2” ABS male adapter. You can use the same fitting in PVC. Apply Teflon tape or pipe joint compound to the external threads of the adapter.
  2. If the sump pump impeller is enclosed in a screened volute, lower the pump into the sump and make sure it sits in the center such that the float assembly is free to move up and down without interference.
  3. If the pump impeller is open (without any debris guard like a screen) place the pump on a couple of bricks or blocks in the bottom of the sump tank.
  4. Install a rubber mission or fernco coupling on the discharge line, then a check valve assembly, then a gate valve, in that order.
  5. Route the discharge line to the outside of the building or basement. Grade the discharge line to flow away from the pump.
  6. Plug the pump into a GFI outlet.


Drill a small 1/8” hole in the discharge line just above the male adapter. This allows water in the discharge line to flow back into the sump so that the pump does not start under a load.

Regularly clean the sump out of accumulated dirt, mud, and debris and check the pump float for proper operation.

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