Primary Sump Pump - The Centrifugal Sump Pump

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What Are Primary Sump Pumps?

Primary Sump Pumps are those water pumps used to remove water from a sump pump basin or pit that collects from ground water surrounding the perimeter of a building. They are known as primary because they are the main water pump for removing water from a pit. Battery backup sump pumps or water powered pumps are only temporary pumps used when the electricity fails, the primary pump cannot keep up with the water flow into the fit or the main pump has failed.
 
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Six Primary Sump Pump Specifications

SPECIFICATION ONE: MOTOR LOCATION - Three Options

1) IN THE BASIN SUBMERSED. The sump pump motor may be located in the pit submersed in water, thus known as a submersible sump pump.

2) ABOVE THE BASIN NOT SUBMERSED. The sump pump motor any be located above the top of the pit and thus know as a non-submersible pump, pedestal sump pump or column pump. The motor is not submersed in water and sits on the top of a tall pole which has a firm base to support it as the basin bottom. The motor lasts longer by not being submersed in water. Pedestal pumps were the first pump style to be made by the 1930's original sump pump manufacturers.

3) BESIDE THE BASIN AND NOT SUBMERSED. The motor sits on the basement floor beside the pit but not in the pit. This style is known as the hydromatic.

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SPECIFICATION TWO: PUMP OPERATION - Two Options

1) AUTOMATIC. The sump pump includes a float switch which triggers the motor to turn ON and OFF based on the water height in the basin. When the water reaches the preset height of ON for the switch the pump motor runs. When the height of the water lowers to the preset height of OFF for the switch the pump turns OFF. There is no need to intervene in the pumps operation.

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2) NON-AUTOMATIC (MANUAL). The sump pump only runs when the pump motor plug is in the wall socket. It is necessary to monitor the water level in the pit so the pump does not run without water in the pit because this would cause the motor to burn out. When the water reaches the height of the pump impeller at the base, it is necessary to pull the plug so the motor stops operation.

Many homeowers, prefer to buy a non-automatic because they can install a piggy back float switch external to the pump which automates the motor operation. The float switch plug is plugged into the wall socket and the motor is plugged into the piggy back socket in the back of the float switch. External float switches provide many benefits such as allowing the home owner to customize the switch ON OFF points, preventing the need to remove the sump pump from the basin to replace a float switch, and trying new types of float switches such as an electronic switch.

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SPECIFICATION THREE: PUMP HOUSING - Seven Options

1) THERMOPLASTIC. Thermoplastic is not affected by chemicals and will not rust; however, during heavy continuous pumping the housing material will get hot, warp and can also crack or break.Compared to other pump housing material thermoplastic is weak.

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2) ZINC. Zinc is affected by chemicals and can corrode; therefore an oxide resisteant epoxy coating is used over the zine alloy. Zinc is stronger than thermoplastic during heavy duty pumping; however it can warp, creak and break easier than aluminum, staintess steel, carbon steel, cast iron and bronze.

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3) ALUMINUM. Aluminum, like zinc and cast iron, is affected by chemicals and can rust; therefore an epoxy coating is used to retard corrosion. Aluminum is stronger than zinc and thermoplastic and some ability to dissipate heat caused by heavy duty continuous pumping; however it has more potential to warp, crack or break over time than stainless steel, carbon steel, cast iron and bronze.

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4) STAINLESS STEEL. Stainless steel does not rust easily and tereore does not require an epoxy coating. It dissipates heat better than thermoplastic, zinc and aluminum.

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5) CARBON STEEL. Carbon steel is slightly more prone to rust, slightly more prone to warping, cracking and breaking than stainless steel which will not rust and does not easily crack or break.

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6) CAST IRON. Cast iron dissipates heat well; therefore it will not warp, crack or break easily. Cast iron; however does need an oxide resistant epoxy coating to protect the motor housing from rust.

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7) BRONZE. Bronze will not rust; however it can corrode. It is very strong and dissipates heat well; therefore it will not break, warp or crack. The sump pump motor may be located in the pit submersed in water, thus known as a submersible sump pump. Bronze is the most expensive material used.

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SPECIFICATION FOUR: PUMPING PERFORMANCE CURVE - Two Options

1) BY HORSE POWER (HP). All sump pump specifications indicate the motor horse power. Generally speaking, the higher the horse power the higher the amount of water that can be pumped from the sump basin during a specified time period. Some motors like Zoellers have a higher pumping capability that their competitors pumping capability. The most common motor horse power is 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 3/4 and 1 HP.

2) BY GALLONS PER MINUTE (GPM) AND GALLONS PER HOUR (GPH). All sump pump specifications indicate the number of gallons of water that can be pumped from the sump pit during a specified time period. The most common GPH range is from less than 1000 to over 5,000 GPH.

SUMP PUMP SIZE NEEDED. Sump pump size needed is dependent upon many factors; however, knowing the amount of water entering the pit is an important part of the size needed calculcation. If the sump pit diameter sump pit diameter is 18 inches wide, every inch of depth represents 1 gallon of water. If the pit is 24 inches wide, every inch of depth represents 2 gallons of water.

Here is how to calculate pump size needed. When there is no rainstorm, measure how many inches remain in the basin after the pump shuts off. During a heavy rainstorm measure the distance in inches from the bottom of the basin to the point when the pump turns on. Subtract the two number to know how much water is pumped each time the pump turns on and off. Monitor how many seconds it takes before the pit water raises enough to cause the motor to run. This will indicate the basic pumping capability needed. For example, if it takes 15 seconds between each pumping cycle and there is a six inch difference between the ON and ON point, 6 gallons of water is pumped from the pit every 15 seconds or 24 galloons per minute and 1,440 gallons per hour. It is highly recommended you consider the other factors for sump pump size needed as well.

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SPECIFICATION FIVE: FLOAT SWITCH - Four Options

1) TETHER. The tether float switch is most prone to getting caught in the sump basin because the float switch is found at the end of a long tether (rope) that moves extensively as the pit fills with water. Because the tether float switch swings out and in as the water rises, more pit diameter is required.

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2) VERTICAL. The vertical float switch requires less basin diameter. The float moves up and down as the water rises and lowers. If the switch cap has a protective guard it is highly unlikesly the float will get caught in the basin. The two-poled and magnetic vertical switch are more reliable than those that do not have a bottom arm to hold the float rod in place. Generally the distance beteween the ON and OFF point of the pump is less than that of the tether.

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3) DIAPHRAGM. The diaphragm switch on a submersible sump pump has lost it popularity. The diaphragm switch does not move up and down; rather there is a diaphargm found on the side of the pump hat concaves and convexes as water rises and lowers; however over time the diaphram gets brittle.

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4) ELECTRONIC. The electronic switch is the most recent type of switch. Its design has evolved. Initally the probes used with these switches were affected by chemicals and thus easily failed where calcium carbonate was present in the ground water. Another pump company tried using electronics with the diaphragm, but this type of electronic switch was not very successful either. Today there are two electronic switches that are highly reliable. They are not affected by water contaminates or minerals. So far these two switch types are external to the sump pump; that is to say, the motor plug must be plugged into the piggy back plug of the switch and the switch itself is plugged into the wall outlet.

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SPECIFICATION SIX: SMALL PEBBLE AND DEBRIS HANDLING - Three Options

1) BOTTOM SCREEN PROTECTION. Some sump pump manufactures choose to use a bottoom screen to prevent debris and pebbles from clogging the impeller; however the screen must be cleaned periodically.

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2) TOP SUCTION. Top suction eliminates the need for a bottom screen.

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3) VORTEX IMPELLER. The vortex impeller design is preferred by many sump pump owners because the vortex impeller is designed to pass small debris and pebbles found in the pit and thus eliminate the impeller clogging issue.

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SUMP PUMP DIAGRAM - HOW DO SUMP PUMPS WORK

The Sump Pump Works Diagram shows the parts of a sump pump system required to make it work, how a sump pump works, and how the sump pump parts work together.

SIX PARTS MAKE A SUMP PUMP SYSTEM WORK

1) OUTDOOR FOUNDATION PIPING TO INSIDE. Outside drainage tile allows the water seeping through the soil around the house to enter into the tile and flow to the lowest point where a drainage pipe leads into the basement. The drainage tile keeps excess water from collecting around the foundation and causing structural damage. Too much water causes the soil to swell. If the soil does not swell uniformly foundational structure issues can eventaully surface. Drain tile, which is immersed in a bed of stone, is perforated (has holes) which allows water to seep through the soil and into the tile and to the piping which leads into the basement water collection container known as a sump basin or pit.

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2) INDOOR COLLECTION CONTAINER. The collection container known as the sump basin is located in the lower level (basement) at the lowest slope of the escavated foundation. Sump pit sizes vary. A diameter size of 24 inches is best because two sump pumps easily fit into the pit. The depth of the basin is below the drainage pipe leading into the basement so that water flows easily and quickly away from the foundation so it can be removed.

3) FLOAT SWITCH OR PRESSURE SWITCH. The switch monitors the height of the water in the sump pit to keep the water from overflowing the basin and flooding the basement. The switch depends upon the water level or pressure to activate the pump motor.

The tether, and vertical switch are dependant upon water level for moving the arm to activate the pump. The diaphragm switch is dependant upon water pressure for activation.

Electronic switches such as Hydrocheck rely on the presence of rising water in the sump pit. The greater the amount of water in the pit the less resistance there is compared to the grounded pump motor. The two sensors detect the extent of resistance from the water as it increases and decreases. When both sensors detect low water resistance (this occurs when the water level rises in the pit above both sensors), the control module is trigger to turn the pump motor on. When the water level is below both sensors, the water resistance increases greatly. The water resistance is greater than the grounded pump motor and the pump will not run.

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4) PUMP IMPLELLER AND MOTOR. The pump motor and impeller work together. When the motor is on, the impeller spins. The spinning impeller, ssing centrifugal force, forces water toward the sides of the pipe, creating a low-pressure area at its center. Water from the pit rushes to fill the void, and the impeller's spinning action pushes the water out through the discharge piping away from the sump basin.

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5) PIPING AWAY FROM COLLECTION CONTAINER. Piping known as the sump pump systems discharge piping can vary in size from 1 1/3 inch to 2 inches. Generally the piping is PVC Schdule 40. This piping is designed to allow the water to pass from the pit to the desired location away from the house. Elbows are generally needed to configure the piping to direct it away from the basin. The more elbows used, the slower the gallons per hour pumped is achieved.

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6) CHECK VALVE. Check valves prevent the water flowing backwards when the pump stops from flowing back through the pump and into the pit thus causing the same water to be pumped multiple times. The check valve acts as a gate stopping the flow of water. The gate used by check valves varies. The traditional check valves use a flapper while the quiet check valve uses a spring gate. The spring controls the closing of the gate which controls the water hammer and thus keeps the water hammer noise to a minimum.

 

HOW SUMP PUMP PARTS WORK TOGETHER

The Primary Sump Pump is a Centrifugal Pump. Centrifugal pumps transport water by the conversion of rotational kinetic energy to the hydrodynamic energy of the water flow. The rotational kinetic energy is sourced by the electrical motor.

The pump has vanes that rotate and whirl the water around causing it to acquire sufficient momentum to flow through the volute and up through the discharge pipe.

When it rains the water around the perimeter of the dwelling must go somewhere. When a perimeter drainage system exists, the water seeps through the soil down to the pea gravel surrounding the drainage pipe. The serrated drainage pipe allows water to enter.

The drainage system leads into the basement sump pump pit also known as the crock or basin. The encased sump pit collects the water. The water continues to rise in the pit. The sump pump float switch mechanism senses a difference in water height. When the water height in the pit reaches a defined point based on height and pressure, the float switch is triggered and the pump motot is activated.

The impeller swirls the water creating sufficent momentum to cause the water to go up the volute and dischage pipe and to its intended outside discharge location. When the water recedes in the pit to the extent that the float switch is no longer activated, the pump shuts off, the water remaining in the discharge pipe rushes back toward the pump; however the one-way check valve flapper or gate stop the water and it sits there until the next pumping cycle.

 
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HOW TO FIX SUMP PUMP PROBLEMS

Regardless of how well a Primary Sump Pump, the Centrifugal Sump Pump, is made, it will not last forever. Parts Replacement will need to happen and eventually a new pump will need to be installed.

FIVE TROUBLESHOOTING SUMP PUMP PROBLEMS AND HOW TO FIX SUMP PUMP PROBLEMS

PROBLEM ONE: PUMP WILL NOT START
COMMON CAUSES: Power Outage; Low voltage; Float switch is held down; Impeller is clogged or bound; Switch is failing; Pump is overheated.
HOW TO FIX PROBLEM: Check for electricity; Check the fuse; Check if the plug is securely plugged in; Make sure the float switch is free to move; Wait 30 minutes for the pump to cool in case it over heated; Check and clean the impeller; Raise the float to see if the pump will run (this will tell you the switch is bad);
 
PROBLEM TWO: PUMP HUMS BUT LITTLE OR NO WATER IS BEING PUMPED
COMMON CAUSES: Air vent (weep hole) is cloggegd; Too much air is found in the pit water; Case Cap Gasket housing the switch is not sealing properly.
HOW TO FIX PROBLEM: Clean the air vent. Remove the cap case and check on the gasket and replace if necessary.
 
PROBLEM THREE: PUMP WILL NOT SHUT OFF
COMMON CAUSES: Float is caught or debris is under it; switch failed; cap gasket seal is allowing water to enter switch area; Check valve is allowing water to return to the pit.
HOW TO FIX PROBLEM: Check the float, clean or free if necessary; open the cap assembly and check for gasket misalignment and moisture; if necessary replace the gasket; remove the check valve, clean and preferrably replace.
 
PROBLEM FOUR: PUMP RUNS TOO FREQUENTLY
COMMON CAUSES: Pump not right sized for volume of water entering the basin; the ON OFF point is too close; basin is too small.
HOW TO FIX PROBLEM: Meassure the volume of water entering the pit by follwoing the steps above, if the volume exceeds the performance curve, buy a pump with more HP; Install an electronic switch which allows you to customize the ON OFF point; Install a second pump basin (a sister basin).
 
PROBLEM FIVE: PUMP RUNS BUT WATER KEEPS RUNNINB BACK INTO BASIN
COMMON CAUSES: Check valve failed; Pipe to outside is frozen or blocked.
HOW TO FIX PROBLEM: Remove the check valve, check for broken hinge or spring or lodged pebble, replace check valve; Thaw a frozen discharge pipe using portable heater, do not use a blow torch to thaw the line, can also pour hot water into it.
 
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SUMP PUMP MANUFACTURERS

List Of US Pump Manufacturers

Pump Manufactures In Business Over 100 Years

Myers - a part of Pentair Water; Barnes - a part of Crane Pump Company; Bell & Gossett - a part of Goulds Water; Flint-Walling and Star Water, a part of Zoeller; Goulds.

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Pump Manufactures In Business Over 80 Years

Zoeller, Wayne Water Systems, Tramco Pump, Xylem - a part of Goulds,, Red Lion - a part of Franklin Electric.

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Pump Companies In Business Over 50 Years

Crane Pump, Little Giant - a part of Franklin Electric, Liberty Pumps, Pentair Water, Flotec, Gorman-Rupp Company, Superior Pump

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Pump Companies in Business Over 25 Years

Ashland Pump, Franklin Electric, Glentronics, Red Jacket, Simer

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List Of Canadian Pump Manufacturers

Bur-Cam, Western Pump and Grundfos
 
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SUMP PUMP INSTALLATION GUIDE

Evaluation Before Installation

1) Should You Change Brands Or Horse Power?
Before installing a new sump pump it is important to evaluate your existing pump. Did it meet your expectations? Did it keep up with the water flow during heavy rainstorms? Did the pump run too much because of the limited distance between hte ON and OFF point? Did you have maintenance or replacement part issues? Is the pump too wide or high? Did the housing material last well? Is your existing pump well rated? If you called tech support, how helpful were they? Are replacement parts available?
2) Is Your Electricity Adequate?
Using an extension cord is not recommended. Each sump pump should have its own circuit breaker. These pumps require more ampherage than expected especially when continous operation occurs because of heavy rainstorms
3) Do Not Forget A New Check Valve
Before buying a new check valve decide if you were happy with your existing one. Was it known as a Quiet Check Valve? If not and the noise of water hammer bothers you, a quiet check valve is highly recommended.
 

Shopping For A New Sump Pump

1) If you are changing brands, measure the diameter of your existing sump basin. Note the diameter of the bottom is usally 1 1/2 inches narrower. If you have a battery backup pump installed, what can the maximum width of the primary pump be? What are your biggest concerns - cost, customer ratings, replacement part availability, good technical support, shipping time?
2) Amazon provides good prices, many helpful reviews, answers to common questions, and free shipping.
 
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Shopping For A New Check Valve

1) How long must the new check valve be? What size of diameter is required? What kind of connection is preferred? Slip X Slip or Union X Union?
 

Evaluating The New Pump

1) Make sure the new pump is not damaged. Amazon has great support for damaged goods.
2) Measure and make sure it will fit in the basin.
 

Sump Pump Installation Steps - Basically The Same For All Brand.

1) Check the weather. Make sure it is not going to rain the day of pump installation, unless this is an emergency install
2) Check your schedule. If this is your first pump installation, make sure to have six free hours.
3) Unplug the existing sump pump from wall socket.
4) Loosen the bottom end of the check valve.
5) Remove old pump from basin.
6) If possible, unscrew discharge pipe from old sump pump port, screw into new pump port.
7) Remove old check valve from discharge pipe, have bucket ready to catch water held above the check valve.
8) Attach the top end of the check valve to discharge pipe.
9) Put new pump in pit, measure height to determine if discharge pipe will be needed or removed to secure new pump disharge pipe to bottom of check valve. Add or remove discharge pipe length accordingly. Adding pipiing requires purple primer and clear pipe glue.
10) Attach pump discharge pipe to check valve discharge pipe.
11) Plug new pump cord into wall socket or if pump has piggyback switch plug pump cord into piggyback switch and plug switch into the wall socket.
11) Add enough water to cause the pump to run. Check for leaks.
12) No leaks! You are done. Leaks occur if fittings need tightening.
 
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WHAT NEXT

Let us know how the above information has helped you. We find it rewarding to know we have helped others.

Further increase your knowledge about sump-pumps, learn more about each type.

Primary Sump-Pumps
Battery Backup Sump-Pumps
Water Powered Sump-Pumps
Best Selling Pumps
Quiet Check Valve
 
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