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Tips for Buying the Best Sump Pump

The inner workings of a sump pump are much more involved than you may think - with a little research, you can protect your basement more effectively than ever before.

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However, not all sump pumps are created equally — depending on their design, some sump pumps will far outlast and outperform their competition. The inner workings of a sump pump are much more involved than you may think – with a little research, you can protect your basement more effectively than ever before.

For a free sump pump quote, call BQ Basements and Concrete today! We service Eastern PA & Western NJ, including the areas of Pottstown and Levittown, PA as well as Trenton, NJ.


1. Buy a Sump Pump that will Not Burn Out

A sump pump has mechanical parts, and like all mechanical things, they will eventually break or burn out. 

One of the most significant factors in finding a sump pump that will last is to find one that will properly disperse the heat created when the motor has been working hard for long periods of time.

First, be sure to install a sump pump that does not use a “can” motor. “Can” motors are mass-produced motors that arrive at the manufacturer in a metal casing. 

The manufacturer will then drop them in a second sump pump casing. Two layers of casing keeps much more heat in and cause the motor to run hotter.

To best disperse heat in your sump pump, it’s also important that your sump is cast-iron. The heat generated by a sump pump cannot easily escape easily through a plastic sump pump casing, and building heat may slightly distort the housing, affecting the bearings. 

When purchasing a cast-iron sump pump, be sure that the middle housing in particular is cast-iron and not plastic or some other metal. Some pumps advertise themselves as cast-iron but still use plastic in the middle casing.

2. Choose a Submersible Sump Pump

The most common sump pump types are submersible, pedestal, water-powered, and “floor sucker” pumps.

Pedestal sump pumps are tall sump pumps with motors that are not meant to be submerged in water. These low-capacity pumps stand on stilted legs, with a long line from the sump pump float switch down into the pit.

Because they must rise out of the sump pit, it’s not possible to use a lid on a pedestal pump, and this open design will allow humidity and odors to rise out of the pit into the basement. Additionally, noise is not held within the sump pump liner, making it one of the noisiest designs. They also have a flawed sump pump switch design – see #3 for details.

Water-powered sump pumps depend on your home’s water pressure to power the sump pump. However, your home will have to have very good water pressure to run properly. Additionally, these systems are extremely wasteful, removing 3-5 gallons of town water for each gallon pumped out of your house. 

Additionally, they aren’t nearly as powerful as submersible sump pumps, and they can easily become overwhelmed with heavy flooding.

“Floor Sucker” pumps operate without a sump pit, removing all but 1/8″ of water from the floor as they run. 

However, if you want a dry basement, this is not helpful, as water must first flood into the space before it runs. And if your floor is uneven or you have water entering at more than one point, how will your floor sucker protect you?

Submersible sump pumps are, by far, the quietest, most powerful, and most effective sump pumps available. They install beneath the floor, and when properly installed are the most attractive visual choice.

3. Find a Sump Pump with Ample Horsepower and a Proper Pump Switch

Sump pumps should be powerful- preferably, a little more powerful than you need. B.Q. Groundworks prefers sump pumps that run at 80% capacity when pumping water, so they’re not running at their absolute limit at all times. 

A good basement sump pump should be at least 1/3  to 1/2 horsepower. Be careful not to order a cheap sump pump that’s meant only for temporary use, as it won’t be able to keep your basement dry in the long run.

submersible sump pump is not helping you if it can’t turn on, so it’s vital that the sump pump uses a switch that won’t snag in sump pump.   Sump pumps that use arms, levers, or ball-and-chain (also known as “ball-and-wire”) designs are notorious for snagging, forcing the pump to stick in an “on” or “off” position.

Pumps that are forced to remain on with no water in the pit will quickly burn out.

The constant vibrations of a sump pump will cause the tall design of a pedestal sump pump to wander in the sump pit. As it does so, it can lean against the edge of the pit, sometimes against the float switch line. If this happens, the pump will cease to work.

The best sump pumps use a sump pump float switch that will rise up on a fixed bar that turns it on as the water level rises. The floating part of the switch should never be hollow, as hollow parts can fill with water, causing them to stop floating properly.

4. Install a Clog-Resistant Sump Pump

While submersible sump pumps are the best, longest-lasting choice for a basement waterproofing system, they have one weakness:  they are more susceptible to clogs than other designs. When choosing a submersible sump pump, make sure it’s designed to sit on stand in the sump pit – pumps laid directly on the bottom of the liner will operate where dirt and debris settle. The pump should run without a screen, as these collect debris and will clog your system.

The sump pumps provided by BQ Basements and Concrete of Erdenheim, PA includes one extra special no-clog feature. Sump pumps pull water into the system with an impeller. An impeller is like a propeller, except that it pulls inwards instead of outwards. 

These impellers are usually set up against the outer housing — meaning that any debris that enters, even a small pebble, could potentially jam the impeller and shut down the system.


If you’re interested in a Free Estimate on a sump pump installation in your home, BQ Basements and Concrete would be happy to help you. Their free, no-obligation visits include an on-site inspection, a conversation about the best options available to you, and a written quote.

Call or contact us today! We serve throughout Eastern PA & Western NJ, including the areas of Trenton, NJ as well as Pottstown and Levittown, PA.

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