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Sump Pump Float Switches

Level Control
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.

1. Diaphragm Switch.
Diaphragm SwitchThe 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 off.

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.

2) Vertical Action Float
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.

Vertical float switches are often of better quality than tethered floats and usually carry a longer warrantee.

Tethered Float3) Tethered Float
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 is triggered.

Common problems 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 electrical accidents.

To avoid electrical shock

  • 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

Not having a sump pump can lead to fishing for valueables in the basement.If 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. Installing a 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 damage.

The 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.

Checking your sump pump

It is important to check your 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".

Most 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.
  • Float switch.

Learn about the importance of 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 water-powered.

Pedestal - 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.

Submersible - 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.

Submersible water powered sump pump.No 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.


Click here to read more about sump pump installation.



The 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.

The Effectiveness of a Floor Sucker
Floor Sucker
The 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

People 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!

ISump Pumpt 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.

Some 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.

If you clean and maintain your sump pump properly and regularly, you’ll extend its lifespan.


Basement Water Control

It 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 flooding situation.

Basement water flooding can be prevented with the use of a sump pump.Moisture, water, and 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 foundation intact.
  • 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.
  • Prevents 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

Cracks: 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.