Wilmington Plumbing Tip: How a Sump Pump Prevents Wet Basements

Many homes in the Wilmington area require sump pumps to keep their basements dry. Sump pumps are placed in pits or “sumps” in the basement floor. When the basement floods, it starts at the lowest point, which is the sump. As the sump fills with water, the pump is automatically activated and begins to suck the water out of the sump and discharge it to a drain or a line leading away from the house before it can flood the basement.

How Sump Pumps Work

Your Wilmington sump pump‘s base has openings to allow water to flow into it. When water fills the sump it also fills the interior of the pump. When the water reaches a certain level it triggers a floating switch that activates an electric motor. The motor spins a metal shaft immersed in the water at the bottom of the pump. The shaft is attached to an impeller, which resembles a small, sideways water wheel.

As the impeller spins at high speed it whirls the water away from the center of the pump, forcing it into a discharge pipe that rises up out of the sump. The discharge pipe connects to a length of hose or pipe that empties the water into a sink or outside the foundation of the house. As the water is forced out of the pump it creates a vacuum that pulls more water into the pump and out of the sump. The impeller keeps spinning and pumping water into the collecting pipe until the water level inside the pump – and the sump – allows the float switch to drop low enough to shut the motor off.

Types of Sump Pumps

There are pedestal sump pumps and submersible sump pumps. In pedestal pumps, the motor assembly is above the base of the pump and the impeller, and doesn’t contact the water. The activation switch for the motor is attached to a long shaft with the float on the other end that drops into the water. As the water rises, it pushes the shaft up and activates the switch. Submersible pumps are smaller units with the motor, activation switch, and impeller all on one level. The motor compartment is waterproof. Either style pump is usually connected to the house electric circuit. But some homeowners connect them to backup battery power supplies so the pump will work in the event of a severe storm and power outage.

Which Wilmington Homes Need Sump Pumps

Every homeowner in Wilmington should understand the concept of the water table. Simply put, the water table is the permanently saturated layer of soil, sand, or rock below most of the surface of the Earth. In some places it’s hundreds of feet below the ground, but in most areas it’s much closer to the surface. In temperate or seasonal areas, the depth of the water table can rise and fall.

The foundations of homes in the Wilmington area are built above the water table. But seasonal fluctuations and heavy precipitation can cause the water table to expand upwards. If a basement isn’t completely waterproof, and few basements in the Wilmington area are, the water will seep in. Land near rivers, streams, and wetlands tends to have a very high water table, so homes built in those areas are particularly susceptible to flooding.

Although most basements are not waterproof, they should be able to withstand an occasional increase in the saturation of the soil around and beneath the house. A permanently damp basement could indicate that the foundation is close enough to the water table to prevent the basement from ever completely drying out. Rather than installing a dehumidifier, a sump pump may provide a better solution. Ask your Wilmington plumbersBoulden Brothers, about how a sump pump can help your home!