Pumps are used every day to move fluid from one location to another. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and may be operated by electric motor, engine, or even by hand or solar power. They can be turned on and off by timers, detectors and other time and property-saving features. This guide will help you identify the type of pump you need for a variety of common household and hobby applications, so you can feel confident you’re getting the pump you need to handle the job at hand.
Consider these factors for performance when selecting a pump:
- Capacity and power – Capacity is how much fluid the pump can move, which is measured in gallons per minute or gallons per hour; power is measured in horsepower. Pumps with higher capacities and horsepower are suited to larger tasks.
- Materials – Pumps are designed for long life, and are made of a variety of sturdy materials, including sheet metal, cast iron, stainless steel, and various other materials.
- Power Sources – Electricity, gasoline, diesel, hydraulics, natural gas, compressed air or manual.
- Head – Head pressure describes how powerful a pump is. "Vertical discharge head pressure" describes the vertical lift in height at which the pump can no longer exert enough pressure to move water.
Types of Pumps Sump Pumps
Below are just a few of the pumps you can use for various applications around your home.
Sump pumps remove water that collects in basins from around a home’s foundation. They’re the ideal solution for basements that flood. Refer to the table below for information about the different types of sump pumps.
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|Motor is open and installed above water level. || |
- May be noisy
- Open motor is exposed to dust and moisture
- Should be positioned where motor cannot be submerged
- Easier to repair
- May operate 25 – 30 years
|Motor is sealed and unit is installed below water level || |
May require a larger up-front investment
Placed down in the sump pit
Safer if children are in the house
Functions even when submerged
Sealed design prevents dust and moisture from affecting operation
Ideal for finished basements
May operate 5 – 15 years
Use either pedestal or submersible; operates using battery power
Runs on rechargeable batteries for up to 7 hours
Look for units that alert you via a light or sound when problems occur
Available in a range of capacities
Discharge pipes may be separate or shared with primary pump
Switches control turning the pump on and off. There are many types of switches to choose from:
- Capacitive switches use a microprocessor to measure water level and engage the pump when the water level reaches a preset point in the sump basin. A benefit of capacitive or "water-sensing" switches is that there are no mechanical parts to wear out as with other switches.
- Vertical switches are mechanical devices designed to automatically turn a pump on and off when water reaches a preset level. These switches are not adjustable. Because these switches travel vertically they can be installed in relatively compact applications but must be free from obstructions. The switch needs to be installed 90 degrees from the incoming liquid.
- Diaphragm switches are mechanical devices that use water pressure levels to turn a pump on and off. As water rises in the unit air is released from a vent tube, activating the switch. As the water level drops, the air is pulled back into the switch to turn off the pump.
Sewage pumps are designed to pump liquids and semi-solids in a basement or below-grade area from a sewage basin up to the main sewer line for removal. They are an essential element in any basement remodeling project that includes a bathroom. The switch on a sewage pump functions in a similar manner to that of sump pump. As the liquid in the basin reaches a specific point, the switch is activated, starting the pumping action. When the liquids lower to a certain point, the pump switches off.
- Sewage pumps may be submersible or above-ground and integrated into or outside a basin.
- They may be used in a sump pump application where clogging is an issue, but sump pumps should never be used in place of sewage pumps.
- Most models are capable of handling solids up to 2".
- Effluent pumps handle solids up to ？" in diameter and are used for sink/laundry and septic discharge.
- The higher the lift or longer the distance the waste must be pumped, the more powerful the pump needs to be
- Macerator models reduce waste to a semi-fluid state for removal.
When selecting a sewage or effluent pump, be sure to choose the appropriate horsepower. If you are replacing a sewage pump, use a model with the same horsepower. Horsepower is dictated by how many drains from toilets, showers, washing machines, and other fixtures and appliances feed into the sewage basin.
1-2 drains = 4/10 HP pump
3 or more drains = ？ HP pump
Features to Consider
Self-priming pumps require no manual supplying of fluid to the pumping chamber, for easier and more convenient operation.
Increases efficiency by allowing you to customize the speed for the difficulty of the job at hand.
Provide emergency power in the event of a power outage.
Alarms Corrosion Resistance
Alerts you when water becomes a problem.
If a pump is going to be placed in or around water, look for one that's made from corrosion-resistant materials to ensure longer life.