I recently bought a house that has a French drain that drains into my sump pump. We have had a lot of water this year and my sump pump pumps out the water every 2 minutes. My float is set below the French drain level so the pit never gets over half full. Is it correct to have the float level be set below the French Drain?

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    – isherwood
    Jan 8, 2019 at 15:56

2 Answers 2


Doesn't sound like a French drain (which typically describes gravity-driven drains that daylight away from the foundation) so much as a conventional drain tile loop connected to your sump pail.

Most sump pump floats only let the water get halfway up the pail's height or so. I wouldn't want it getting much fuller than that, personally. If you let the water level get above the drain inlet, the entire drain loop is now full of water. You have essentially no margin for error before your basement floods.

I've had cases where my float stuck and the water level got very close to the top of the slab. Because so much water is now present throughout the drain system, the pump has to run for 10 minutes or more to catch up. That's an uncomfortable situation to be in.

  • I agree that it would not be a good idea to raise the pump level above the inlet. Keeping the line pumped out helps keep the water level at the foundation low and will help keep the walls dry.+
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 8, 2019 at 15:39

If you raise the level so it's running every four minutes rather than every two minutes, the pump will probably last longer - you'd cut the starts in half, and fewer starts is a good thing.

If it's running that much, I would consider beefing up the system so that if / when that pump fails, the basement doesn't flood. If it's running that much, it wouldn't have to be offline long before you'd have a mess.

I'd install a second pump with a lead/lag pump controller for redundancy, and an alarm that alerts if the level rises more than an inch or so above the start float level. You can use home automation products so you get a smartphone alert even if you're away from home when the pumps go down.

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