Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is there such a thing as a vacuum operated sump pump? Most sumps or ejector pumps leave a column of water above the check valve, and leave a few centimeters of water in the sump beside.

I have a need to install two sumps where this is undesirable. The first is a graywater ejection system where it is better not to 'store' the water.

The second is a place that gets wet 4-5 times per year. I currently vacuum this up with a shop vac leaving the area totally dry. If I place a sump instead, the sump (sealed or not) will have standing water much longer.

I am aware of water powered emergency backup lifters (e.g. RB-750 from RadonSeal -- 1 gallon in lifts 2 gallons out).

share|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Sort of, but it probably doesn't work like you think. I'm guessing you want a pump that works like a shop vac. But once you put in a provision to drain off the collected liquid, the vacuum effect no longer works. One could concoct a system that alternately sucks, then drains, but I know of no such commercially available package system. Maybe something like this does exist? I'll bet it would be pretty loud!

There are vacuum primed pumps, they tend to be large, and when the first bit of air hits the impeller as the sump empties, all the remaining liquid in the suction pipe drains back into the sump. Something similar happens with the jet pump you linked to, but since the pipe is small, the volume of liquid drained back is small. But there's always the liquid remaining between the sump floor and the highest portion of the inlet opening, no matter which pump you use. Only manual vacuuming will get at that. In addition, most pump controls shut off the pump before there's any chance of sucking air, leaving even more liquid in the sump.

People typically use self priming pumps to suck out liquid from containers. These sorts of pumps all must retain a liquid reservoir in the casing from which they can re-initiate their prime. There's always some left over liquid sitting around somewhere when ever a liquid pump is involved.

It is possible to concoct a system where after the wastewater is mostly removed, potable water is added and pumped away in an attempt to flush away the remaining wastewater, so that only clean water is left standing. The reality is you are only diluting the remaining wastewater, so some small wastewater portion will always remain.

Jet pumps like the one you linked to are clever devices. You do need good water flow, and they do use a LOT of potable water. Also be aware that the integral check valve of this device will not be considered adequate by almost any building authority. Some sort of vacuum breaker will likely need to be added, further reducing available pressure and volume. These jet pumps are for removing relatively clean groundwater. The bits of food, hair, lint, etc. found in graywater will probably clog the device.

share|improve this answer
It would have to suck like a shop vac, then drop the water into a holding tank. From there it could drain by gravity. Other than a trap (if headed for a sewer) the system could dry completely. – Bryce Jul 24 '12 at 2:53

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.