Sump Pump Float Switches
The most common function of a sump pump is to protect a
basement from flooding. The pump is activated when water reaches
a certain level in the sump tank and pumps out the excess water.
The float switch
is the part of the sump pump that activates the pump when water
reaches a certain threshold. It is therefore an essential
element to avoid flooding. The float switch is usually the first
part of a sump pump to break, so it is recommended to choose a
sump pump whose float switch is easily replaceable.
There are 3 types
of float switches: 1) diaphragm switch, 2) vertical action
float, 3) tethered float.
diaphragm switch is a popular type for professionals and is also
the most expensive. The entire sump pump is immersed under water
and on it is a membrane that is sensitive to water pressure. As
the water level rises, the water pressure increases and the
diaphragm becomes concave, thereby activating the switch to turn
on the sump pump. When the water level drops, the switch turns
Since there is no
float, there is nothing to get stuck, which is a common problem
with other types of sump pumps. This type of switch is not
susceptible to turbulence in the tank. So if you have water
entering fast, the turbulence will not trigger the switch as it
might do with the types listed below.
This type of switch is recommended because it is not as
expensive as the diaphragm switch and it is superior to the
tethered float. The float is a ball that floats above the water.
As the water level rises so does the float which, at some point,
will trigger the switch to turn on the pump. This float has
limited movement up and down a vertical rod thereby giving it
less freedom of movement and less of a chance to get stuck as
the tethered float does for example.
switches are often of better quality than tethered floats and
usually carry a longer warrantee.
The tethered float is the most common and is used for
pedestal sump pumps. The float hangs from the pump and floats on
the water. As the water rises, so does the float and the switch
related to the tethered float include the float accumulating
grime and causing it to lose buoyancy and even sink. Another
common problem is that the float gets stuck to the inner wall or
pump and as a result, when the water rises in the sump tank, the
float may stay submerged and fail to activate the pump.
Pedestal sump pumps
have the added advantage of having the electrical unit above the
water level. Other types are submerged and involve more risk of
- Unplug the
pump before putting your hands in the water.
- Use a broom
stick rather than your hand to check whether or not the
float is stuck.
- Use a ELCI
extension cord which will turn off much like the more
sensitive bathroom plugs (CFI ) to avoid electric shock. The
bathroom type of plugs are too sensitive for sump pumps and
are triggered too easily. A common sump pump error is to
assume that a sump pump is not working when in reality it is
the safety plug that has shut off. The US standard for CFI
plugs is to shut off when currents reach only 5 milliamps,
whereas ELCI extension cords have a higher threshold.
Sump Pump Info
you have already lived through the dreaded experience of a
flooded basement, then you know how much damage it can cause.
Even one inch of water can take many hours to clean up and
causes thousands of dollars in damaged furniture and carpets.
sump pump in your basement is
your best defence to prevent flooding.
Basement flooding is most often
caused by water build up in the soil that makes its way into
your basement. There are many ways for water to enter and many
ways to prevent it from entering. A sump pump on the other hand
is a last defense against flooding because it pumps out water
from the lowest section of the basement before the water level
reaches the basement floor level. As groundwater level rises it
is diverted into the sump hole. When the water reaches what is
called ‘the critical level’, the sump pump begins to pump it out
through a pipe that leads outside and away from your foundation.
Apart from the
obvious damages to your belongings, flooding can also cause
plumbing problems, a damaged foundation or
rotted wood; all of which are
troubles that bring down the value of your home. A sump pump can
save you thousands of dollars in the long run by maintaining the
value of your home and by protecting your belongings from water
sump pump has recently become more important especially in newer
homes since the Federal Clean Water Act no longer allows
builders in many municipalities to drain rainwater collected by
gutters into sewerage systems. Water collected on the roof of
your home and drained by your gutters can cause flooding if it
is not carried carried far enough away from your foundation.
It is important to
sump pump regularly to make
sure that it is in
proper working condition.
- Remove the
cover and slowly pour water into the sump tank.
- Watch for the
"float" to rise and trigger the pump.
- Once the pump
is engaged, the water level will quickly lower and the float
will shut off the pump.
This is what is
called "a normal sump cycle".
problems with the sump pump are
float related. If the pump does not start, the float may be
hanging on something in the tank. A simple repositioning of the
pump should solve the problem.
- If this fails,
the float may need replacement.
- If the pump
fails to shut off when the water level drops to the bottom
of the sump tank, this indicates a new float is needed.
Learn about the
backup sump pumps and having a
reliable sump pump backup system.
Sump Pump Types
There are three
types of sump pumps commonly used - two electric and one
An electric pump that stands upright, with a motor a few feet
above it that is not meant to get wet. It has a float-activated
switch that turns the pump on when the water reaches a certain
level. This type of sump pump is ideal for basements needing
frequent water drainage. They usually are the least expensive
but are noisier than the submersibles.
These types of electrical pumps are installed in ground and are
designed to work underwater. They have the same float-activated
switch. They are more expensive than the pedestal pumps but are
quieter and tend to have a longer life because their sealed,
oil-cooled motors are protected from moisture and dust.
matter what type you have, each sump pump should have a check
valve on the water outlet pipe so water does not flow back into
the sump when the pump shuts off. Water flowing back and forth
can cause the pump to turn on and off more than necessary and
shorten the life of the pump.
Water powered - This type
of pump runs off the water pressure from your home plumbing
system and has the same float-activated switch. These pumps
handle water at a comparable rate to the electric types, but
require no electricity to operate. It can be installed along
side an electric sump and is generally used as a back up system
during a power failure.
Floor Sucker Pumps
- New type of pump that is used mostly in basements, cellars or
crawl spaces which do not have an actual sump pit. It is called
a floor sucker pump because it removes water right down to
within a 1/8" of the floor (or from other surfaces like a roof
or the ground). Available in various flow rates, manual or
automatic operation, with some electronically controlled. These
types of pumps were particularly useful during the east coast
storms this fall. See available
floor sucker pumps.
here to read more about sump
Floor Sucker: Saying NO to H2O
Every home owner
has a fear of coming home to a basement full of water. A leak as
a result of heavy rain storms or an accidental pipe burst has
the potential to cause severe damage to your basement or cellar
area. Even a few inches of water can destroy your precious
belongings and/or instantly wipe out your treasured memorabilia.
If your home does not have a sump pump to protect your basement
from water, it is crucial that you find another way of keeping
water out. A floor sucker is a versatile utility sump pump that
can handle the task.
Effectiveness of a Floor Sucker
floor sucker was created for homeowners who do not already have
a sump pump in their home. The unit is highly versatile and can
be used to protect your basement, cellar, roof and even crawl
space against water damage. The floor sucker runs with the
assistance of an oil-filled motor and is housed in an epoxy cast
aluminum shell. It can be used fully or partially submerged,
indoors and outdoors, and can drain down to 1/8 of an inch.
Depending on your needs, there are different models available
including the 1200 GPH pump which features a 1 inch discharge
with garden hose adapter, a 26.3 inch shut-off head capability,
and a screened inlet. In addition, each model has varying flow
rates and can be manually or automatically operated. Other than
for home purposes, a floor sucker can be used for commercial and
industrial needs including pet applications, statuary fountains,
pool covers, equine and livestock therapy, air conditioners and
machine tool coolants. In any situation requiring the transfer
or recirculation of liquid, the floor sucker is well-suited. So
whatever your specific need, there is a pump that can safely and
effectively handle the task.
Sump Pump Maintenance
who have a sump pump in their home will tell you they could not
do without one. Like many other home appliances, a sump pump
requires maintenance. If you want to know how to clean and
maintain your sump pump to ensure its long life, then you’ve
come to the right place!
is often recommended that you do not clean the sump pump
yourself but leave that task to someone who is qualified.
However, you can pour white vinegar through the unit which will
help eliminate any build-up in the system. Sump pumps have
screens or openings where the water enters the pump. These
sometimes get clogged and require cleaning by a professional.
manufacturers recommend the sump pump be run and tested every
two to three months and others recommend that a yearly
cleaning program be completed before the rainy season hits. If
you follow the maintenance guide given by the manufacturer, your
sump pump should last a very long time.
Below are some tips
regarding sump pump maintenance:
- fill the sump
pit with water to make sure the pump is working properly.
- go outside to
check that the pump is actually discharging water (sometimes
the pump will run but it won’t pump any water out).
- check that the
operation of the float is not restricted.
- clean the air
hole in the discharge line.
- listen for any
strange noises coming from the motor.
- replace the
battery on the back-up sump pump every second or third year.
clean and maintain your sump pump
properly and regularly, you’ll extend its lifespan.
Basement Water Control
has been estimated that 90 to 95 percent of all basements will
experience a problem with water penetration that something as
simple as a sump pump could have prevented. Most often the water
comes from rainfall or melting snow. For every inch of rain the
average roof sheds 1,000 gallons of water.
Flooding is common
in houses situated on flat terrain where the water has nowhere
else to go but through the cracks and fissures in your
foundation, walls and floors. Your basement can become a pond
overnight! Mechanical systems such as electrical panels, and
main plumbing controls are also at risk of being damaged in a
humidity can damage flooring,
drywall, and framing in the basement, and condense inside the
walls. It can cost thousands of dollars in repairs to these
types of basement structures. As if that is not bad enough,
excessive moisture can also contribute to health problems. When
there is an accumulation of mold in an area, mold spores begin
to filter through the air and can be extremely hazardous to your
health. The wood in your home can be destroyed by fungus and the
infestation of wood destroying insects, such as termites.
It is very
important to protect your home and the people that live in it.
There are very simple measures you can take to make sure that
your home stays dry and healthy. Listed below are the many
reasons why a sump pump can make a difference in your life.
Benefits of having a sump pump
- Restores the
proper value of your property.
- Keeps your
- Keeps the
dampness from settling in, giving you a warmer dryer
basement all year round.
- Results in a
cleaner and healthier home.
- Keeps you
worry-free no matter what the weather is like outside.
fungus, molds and mildew.
- A dry basement
will prevent termite and insect infestation.
- Prevents wall
coverings and paint from peeling.
- No rust and
corrosion of metal appliances.
Other Ways To
Protect Your Home
Caulk all cracks and openings in the cement around your house.
Condensation: Put insulation on cold-water tanks, water
piping, and cold air ducts.
Gutters: Maintain the gutters by keeping them free from
leaves and debris. Add extensions to downspouts and keep them at
least four feet away from the foundation.
Window wells: Install covers if they drain poorly.
Driveway: Patch all cracks.