Does my drainage system need a pump?

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Natasha Maerz

Owner/Office Manager


There are many different types of drainage systems that can be installed in your yard to help alleviate yard water issues. All drainage systems need a place for yard water to end up, whether that be a sump pump, storm drain or a ditch. Whether or not your system needs a pump depends on your property, where the water is coming from, and where the water is ending up.

Table of contents:

  • What does a pump do?
  • Does my drainage system need a pump?
  • Does a sump pump require electricity?
  • What is the maintenance for a pump?
  • Does a sump pump need a basin?
  • Advantages of a sump pump
  • Disadvantages of a sump pump

What does a pump do?

Simply put, a sump pump is a pump that is used to remove water that has gathered into a sump basin. Sump basins collect all of the water accumulated by perimeter drains, French Drains and/or downspout drains. Once enough water is accumulated in the sump basin, the sump pump discharges that water to a designated area, such as a pond, or a neighbourhood drain.  

Does my drainage system need a pump?

Unfortunately, as a homeowner, you do not have a choice whether or not you put a pump in, your property makes it for you.

The lowest elevation point in your drainage system compared to where the water has to go to, such as the road or a ditch, is what determines whether your drainage system needs a pump or not. There is no benefit to adding a pump to your drainage system unless you absolutely need one due to the risk of pumps failing, getting clogged, and needing to be replaced.

Does a sump pump require electricity?

Sump pumps rely on electricity to work, and need to be plugged in. To have your sump pump properly installed, electrical conduit is installed underground, and an electrician can be hired to hook everything up to your electrical panel.

Because sump pumps rely on electricity, many backup systems have an alarm that will sound if the battery backup is activated. This alarm alerts the homeowner that the sump is not getting power from the home’s electrical wiring system. If the alarm sounds, the homeowner should immediately contact their sump pump installer, so the risk of water damage can be avoided.


What is the maintenance for a pump?

It is important to stay on top of a sump pumps maintenance so that it is working and ready for when you need it. The last thing you want to be doing during a big storm is trying to fix it. Sump pumps often spend long periods of time idle (ex. Summer when there is no rain fall) and operate intermittently when the water rises and fills up the concrete basin. This wear and tear on the system is why pumps burn out, which is why annual maintenance on your sump pump will ensure that it is working at all times. This maintenance is fairly easy and includes cleaning the inlet screen and sump basin, and making sure that the discharge pipe is free of dirt.

If you are relying on your pump to keep the foundation of your home dry, it is imperative that you stay on top of servicing your pump. If your pump fails, you could be looking at quite a bit of damage done to your home.

A pumps life is determined by how many times it turns on an off, so some homeowners will have their pumps last longer than others. Because of this, the pump should be serviced every five years, or replaced, depending on how much use it has seen.

Does a sump pump need a basin?

Sump basins act as a home for your pump, essentially protecting it. The sump basin collects all of the water from your drainage systems (French Drains, perimeter drains, downspout drains) and collects any sediment from the pipes, such as dirt or leaves. This basin allows homeowners or contractors to do maintenance on the pump, and if any pipes are clogged, make it easy to unclog them from inside the sump basin.  

Advantages of a sump pump

  • Effective water removal when properly installed
  • Protects your home from damage
  • Prevents mold and mildew by keeping your homes foundation dry
  • Ensures that your yard does not become water logged

Disadvantages of a sump pump

  • Electricity is required
  • Pump will eventually need to be replaced

If needed, sump pumps do a fantastic job of helping your yard water get to its discharge station, and can prevent a lot of headaches by keeping your homes foundation dry.

To learn about different drainage solutions, check out, “5 main lawn drainage solutions.”

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