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How To Install a Sump Pump

How To Install a Sump Pump

Installing a sump pump is the most critical step to controlling water levels and water quality on your residential or commercial property. Taking your time and getting it right the first time will save you a lot of unnecessary headaches in the long run.

Well-built and strategically placed sump pumps can prevent very expensive structural and foundational damage, particularly to properties in flood-prone areas.

Sump pumps are growing increasingly popular with both professional and hobbyist farmers, as they provide landowners with the ability to stabilise bodies of water. Drainage pumps mitigate the risk of water damage and land erosion, as well as controlling water quality in dams and ponds for recreational use

This guide outlines the steps of sump pump installation, system optimisation, and if or when you need to call in an expert.

Choosing Your Intended Sump Pump Location

When it comes to choosing where to install your drainage system, ‘Location, Location, Location’ is the motto. Strategically locating the sump pump and adding an extra layer of pump protection to maximise its efficiency and effectiveness will be integral to the longevity of your system. Take time to survey your land or property before beginning the installation process, you don’t want to be digging multiple sump pits when you can get it right the first time!

Generally speaking, your drainage system should always be located at the lowest point of your property where water is most likely to gather. The most commonly chosen locations to position sump pumps are areas such as basements, crawl spaces or low-lying ground in outdoor areas. It’s worth noting at this stage that if you intend on installing your water pump in a basement, be sure to dig the sump pit in the centre of the room, as far from the walls as possible. 

The process of digging an indoor sump pit will require a jackhammer to penetrate the property’s concrete foundations and could potentially cause damage to the wall structures if placed too close to them. 

If you plan to install your system outdoors near dams or ponds, select a place that naturally gathers runoff and rainfall.

Planning Your Sump Pump Installation

Proper sump pump installation planning guarantees that your system operates efficiently and lasts for a long time. Consider the following crucial factors:

  • Sump Pump Size: Choose a size based on the amount of water you plan to handle. This varies according to your unique requirements and the size of the area you wish to keep dry. A smaller basin may be adequate for a small basement, while a bigger system may be required to manage runoff from a huge dam.
  • Types of Pumps: Consider how many and what kind of sump pumps you’ll need for your drainage. Larger water collecting areas, such as basements or dam systems, may need the use of many sump pumps.
  • Setup: Optimise the setup for efficiency and lifespan.  For example, in a dam, you may need to assess the consequences of overflow and route the discharge to a suitable location.
  • Plumbing and Connections: Ensure that all plumbing and electrical connections are properly installed. This involves securely securing pipes and ensuring the system is correctly grounded.
  • Backups and Alarms: Add battery backups and alarms to improve security. This is especially significant in rural regions, where power outages might occur more often. It is important to remember that the cost of a backup drainage system is considerably less than the cost of repairs for structural or foundational damage to your property or land.

Steps to follow for Sump Pump installation

    1. Mark the Pump Location: Outline the required diameter of the sump pit by placing the sump basin upside down on the ground and drawing a circle 4 to 6 inches outside the perimeter to indicate where you will dig the sump hole.
    2. Install a GFCI Outlet: Place a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet within easy reach of the sump pump cord.
    3. Digging the sump pit trench: More likely than not, a jackhammer will be required to break through concrete flooring, particularly if you plan on installing a basement system on your property. It is worth considering professional help for this part of the project, or, if you are digging the sump pit yourself, ensure you are wearing relevant protective equipment. However, if creating a sump pit for an outdoor system, a shovel, and some elbow grease are usually enough to create the necessary depth for the system to rest in. Different models of sump pumps will have varying specifications, so ensure you have measured the depth of the sump basin you have purchased to create the sump pit deep enough for the basin to rest. The aim is for the top of the sump basin to sit level with the surrounding ground.
  • Set the Sump Basin in the Pit: Insert the sump basin into the pit and adjust the height using gravel or pavers as needed.
  • Fill Gaps in the Pit: Use loose gravel to fill the gaps between the sump pit and the sump basin. Then, pour concrete to level the surface.
  • Install the Discharge Pipe: Connect a vertical PVC pipe to the sump pump and run it to the discharge location. Add elbows and more pipe as required.
  • Install the Check Valve: Using hose clamps, secure the check valve to the discharge pipe for easy removal.
  • Exit Point for Discharge Pipe: With a hole saw, drill a hole through the wall for the discharge pipe.
  • Discharge Pipe: Connect the pipe from the pump to the desired discharge area outdoors, ensuring sufficient distance from the property. Depending on the grade level, you may need to slant the pipe downward with a 90-degree elbow. To prevent water penetration, seal the hole with exterior caulk.

Can I Install a Sump Pit Myself? 

While DIY installation is possible, some activities may require expert assistance and specialised tools. Here are the steps  

worth considering calling in the professionals for: 

  • Digging a Dry Well: If you have no experience using a jackhammer and are installing the dry well in the basement of a property that requires breaking through a concrete floor, there is no shame in calling in the professionals with heavy-duty equipment to keep you and your home safe.
  • Installing a GFCI Outlet: This involves a certain degree of electrical knowledge, and mishandling live electrical equipment is never advised, therefore it is wise to consider hiring an electrician.
  • Pouring Concrete: The initial installation of a sump pump can get quite messy, so you might want to call in a paving or building company to help clear away the debris and ensure you get a professional finish, particularly if you are installing the system on a residential property.

Maintaining Your Sump Pump System

While proper installation of your system is undoubtedly essential for optimised use, just as important is regular maintenance. Thorough and regular up-keeping of your drainage system will not only save costs on potential repairs of your property but also delay the need to replace the entire sump pump system. 

Make sure to regularly clear debris from the sump basin and pump intake to avoid internal clogs. Alternatively, products such as a Matala Pump Defender reduce the frequency of having to unclog the system. The importance of testing your system regularly, particularly before heavy rainfall or the onset of wet seasons cannot be understated. If your property is prone to power outages, particularly in more rural areas,  ensure you keep more than one battery backup charged and in good condition.

Enhancing Your Drainage System.

There are various methods to improve your system to make it more successful on your rural property.

  • Have a replacement sump pump: The cost of a backup drainage system will be significantly less than the cost of structural repairs should your primary pump fail. 
  • Add Backup Power Sources: Storms can cause power disruptions in remote regions. Adding a backup power source, such as a battery or generator, ensures that your sump pump continues to perform when it is most required.
  • Install a water alarm: A water alarm will notify you if the water level in your sump pit is greater than usual. This can give early detection of possible problems.
  • Integrate a smart home system:  Many sump pumps may be connected to smart home systems, allowing you to monitor and operate them remotely.


So we’ve covered the key points of consideration when choosing your location, setting up, installing, and maintaining your sump pump. By following the guidelines in this article, you can rest assured that your new water drainage system will serve to keep your home safe from excess water damage and your dam or pond in optimal condition. 

Remember that your system should be part of a larger water management plan. Regular maintenance and inspections will ensure the long-term viability of your installation. Keep an eye on your system’s functionality during wet seasons and consider taking further precautions such as integrating a smart home monitoring system or installing water alarms for early detection.

The investment you put in your system today will pay off later by protecting your home and property against water damage. Whether you just want to keep your basement dry and free from the threat of flooding, regulate runoff around your ponds, or control water flow and quality around your dams, the correct sump pump system will provide you peace of mind and long-term security.

By taking the time to properly plan, install, and maintain your sump pump system, you will be well-prepared to deal with even the most severe rains and weather conditions.