Resource for choosing the right sump pump?
September 20, 2019 4:43 AM   Subscribe

We need a sump pump for a crawl space that gets a puddle. I want to be able to select one that's not too noisy, that's energy efficient, and that will only pump if water gets to within a few inches of the floor's surface. I've been finding it a little involved to find this info about each pump. Is there a good write-up anywhere that compares these factors, or do you happen to know?

Our crawl space has a dirt floor with rubber sheeting on top of it. It gets a puddle in one corner -- not a huge amount of water, but up to a couple of inches deep.

The water is coming from two places. It's seeping in through the bottom of one concrete wall, which means we may need a footing drain. But it's also coming up from below, as I found when I dug a hole into the dirt floor near that wall -- the bottom of the hole had water seep up like it does on a beach. So we'd like to try a sump pump and dehumidifier and see whether we still need a footing drain.

Since the water seeped up when the hole wasn't that deep, it's important that the sump pump won't turn on unless water is within a few inches of the floor surface -- I don't want it to run constantly, pumping the entire water table! I also care about noise and cost-to-run, in addition to cost of the unit and whether it will last over time. I don't need to move a lot of water, and I don't need a battery back-up. Ideally, I'd like to use a regular garden hose to try it out before plumbing it in more permanently.

I can only find some of this info, and only by clicking into specifications and documents for each pump. I couldn't find a Consumer Reports or Wirecutter guide, but something like that is what I'm seeking. There are a bunch of sump pump comparison pages, but they seem to be content farm junk, without the actual content I'd need. Is there a better way to choose?
posted by daisyace to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh yeah, and we've already added gutters and downspouts with long extensions, and we're planning to mound dirt against the outside wall, sloped away from the house, and we know we may end up needing a footing drain anyway. But this seems like a relatively easy and cheap first step that I can DIY or nearly so, and the conservation commission suggested trying it first -- we're in the buffer of a brook that they protect.
posted by daisyace at 4:52 AM on September 20, 2019

I’m no sump pump professional and it sounds like, if you have a fear that the water coming up in your crawl is a natural waterway, that you might want to consult with someone whose specialty is dry basements. However, this Bob Villa article has a nice overview of sump pump installation. Perhaps it is as simple as making a shallow hole (with gravel and a platform) and then perforating the pump body at the level that you want. Water level gets below that line and the pump shuts off.
posted by amanda at 6:33 AM on September 20, 2019

How often the pump runs will be based on the elevation of the pump and float switch. Most models have an integrated float switch, but you could run something independent and more adjustable. Make sure the switch does not cause the pump to run dry. I considered the pump at my previous residence to be mission critical and was amazed at how quiet the Liberty 257 (no connection) was. That pump was selected based on model number specific research and a very well designed float switch - a weak point with many pumps. This pump needs a 1-1/2" outlet, so it won't work with a garden hose trial. Pair it with a quiet check valve. If you do go with a sump crock or other "vessel", take steps to prevent debris from reaching the pump. An errant pebble might cause issues. Filter fabric is your friend.
posted by Muted Flugelhorn at 7:03 AM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm no pro, but it sounds like this could be tricky since all the hardware is designed for two or three usual cases, and yours, as I understand it, isn't any of them.

Sump pump installations are not good at pumping a little water frequently. Usually a sump is designed to collect water over time and then pump it out all at once. This means a relatively deep sump. One of the problems with a small installation is the water left in the hose when the pump turns off. It tends to flow back where it came from. It's usual to include a check valve in the system, but they don't always work perfectly.

I have three electric pumps at the moment. None of them make much noise when actually pumping. I do have one that gurgles when the water level drops enough for air to reach intake.
posted by SemiSalt at 7:08 AM on September 20, 2019

I had a pleasant telephone conversation with the folks at sump pumps direct and they got me on the right path towards what to buy
posted by Dmenet at 8:55 AM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all!
posted by daisyace at 3:35 PM on September 21, 2019

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