I just bought my first house, but I can't seem to understand how the sump worked. I'd like to make sure it's hooked up and ready to go should the basement ever flood.

When I first walked in, the pump was disconnected and raised off the floor. Next to it, was a piece of wood (badly) glued to the concrete floor. When I pulled that off, there was an 8" deep round hole, and at the bottom, a square tile sitting in dirt.

Looking around the sump's location, there's no power outlet within reach (though a 6" extension cord will let me plug it into the furnace's outlet), and more importantly, nowhere obvious to put the drain hose.

I pried the cover off and put the pump in the hole, for what that's worth.

Can anyone make sense of this setup? Hopefully I'm going in the right direction.

What I assume is a sump pump sitting in what I assume is a sump pit

As far as other basement stuff goes, the realtor says the radon system and (maybe) the well pump are both new.

  • the tile on the bottom is to prevent the pump from picking up any silt or sand as it vacuums out the water.
    – ojait
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 3:38
  • you can see in your photo that the concrete slab looks to have been notched possibly to facilitate entry of the ground water. It all looks as it should.
    – ojait
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 3:40
  • Not really, ojait, but that would explain why there's a 3/4-ring around the sump. (The open side faces into the basement.) Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 5:32
  • 4
    If you have a radon system, my understanding is that the sump pit must be sealed. Check with the local building department on this, as not sealing it could reduce the effectiveness of the radon system.
    – Tester101
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 10:35
  • 1
    the sump pit could have been dug and this pump placed there without it ever having been used, or just used temporarily. I recently had my dirt basement sealed, and while doing it the contractors installed 3 sump pits. Since there's no evidence of serious water infiltration I didn't have pumps installed, nor drain connections. If it's ever a problem, I can run to the hardware store to get a pump and drain it out a window. Yours might be a similar situation.
    – aaron
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 12:17

2 Answers 2


A sump pump is used to expel excess water that would otherwise flood your basement. It is seated in a well (sump) lower than the finished floor so that it can begin removing ground water before it reaches the floor. It usually has a ball float attached to a switch so that as the water level rises so does the float. The float activates the switch, at the set level, and the pump motor starts pumping. The water is normally lead to the exterior through an window by a corrugated (flexible) hose which is connected to the pump by a hose clamp. The water should be allowed to drain on the low side of the building so that it will not return. From what can be seen in your photo the wooden structure is what appears to be (I'm guessing) a brace or a stabilizer for the pump when it is running. Probably to keep it upright. I can see the white ball float in the well that connects by a rod to the switch. You may want to install a dedicated receptacle (GFCI) close to the pump or use a heavy extension cord to power it.

  • Thank you. That's what I figured, but I'm wondering why the last homeowner would install it far from an outlet. Still trying to figure out where the drain hose is supposed to go in this basement. Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 5:34
  • @reversedelta: That's probably either the lowesr point in the basenent floor, or (sigh) the area where the pump and hose would be least inconvenient. The previous owner may have run an extension cord, and may have planned to eventually have an outlet installed there.
    – keshlam
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 14:06

Your re-assembly looks good in the picture. But since it's been 6-months, have you tested it yet with a hose or bucket fill to see if it actually works? That's a very-very big motor & a very old & therefore odd & horrible setup, if it doesn't work or works too late...it could very easily be rusted & inoperable.

Do you even need it? Can you just re-grade & sculpt the outdoor landscape to never need the or a pump? Typically yes & that doesn't need power, piping or a battery back-up. The house absolutely did NOT start with a pump. Pumps are just the lazy & up-front cheap way to go. Afterward they're a constant expense, problem & worry.

If you want something lightweight, single piece compact (fits in the hole) & a 10th of the power usage (1/4 to 1/3-horsepower) if ever needed. Then, I'd suggest a $50 Submersible Sump Pump from the Home Improvement store, Wal-Mart or Harbor Freight. Make sure it has a Float Activating Switch or a little attached box.

These pumps can also be screwed to a lid for the hole. But, bottom of the hole is best so leftover water can evaporate quickly. Since it's a pump, you can PVC pipe it (get rid of the flex hose) straight up the wall & out of a drilled hole in the wall or run to wherever water drains away from the house. So, you don't keep pumping the same water.

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