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Sump Pumps and Float Switches

Sump Pumps and Float Switches

Sump Pump Aurora CO prevents basement flooding by channeling water away from your foundation. It’s powered by electricity and typically runs on a standard household outlet.

Installing a sump pump requires digging a hole for the basin and filling it with gravel. Then you connect a discharge pipe to the pump.

The float switch is the part of your sump pump that controls its on and off operation. Its job is to rise and fall with the water level, sending a signal that activates the pump when it reaches a certain height.

There are several different types of float switches on the market, each with its own unique advantages and drawbacks. Tethered float switches are the classic: A buoyant float attached to the pump by a tether rises with the water level, eventually pulling or activating a lever that turns on the pump. They are simple and reliable but prone to snags and require enough space for the tether to move.

A tethered switch can become snagged within your sump pit and prevent it from rising, or it may simply be stuck in the “on” position, which will eventually burn out the motor. These problems are often caused by improper installation, exposure to moisture, or electrical issues.

An alternative to a free-floating tethered switch is a guided vertical action switch, which uses a guide rod that limits the amount of floating material that can snag in the pit. While these switches can be more expensive than other options, they are also notably more reliable.

Another option is an electronic float switch, which has minimal to no moving parts and thus tends to be the most reliable of all float switch technologies. These switches can have probes at the level you want them to turn on, which are then activated by a sensor that reads an electrical current in the water to detect presence. This technology is particularly useful for areas where tethered or free-floating switches aren’t suitable.

All float switches will have to deal with wear and tear, so it is important to take steps to minimize their chances of failing. One way to do this is to install protective shields or guards around the float switch to keep it from being damaged by debris, large objects, or accidental impact. You can also prevent the float switch from becoming tangled or trapped by using a piggyback plug, which connects to the float switch and a standard power outlet to bypass it.

Electronic Switches

A sump pump’s effectiveness depends on functional switches that activate the device when water levels rise, eliminating the risk of expensive damage and mitigating potential health hazards. While there are many different types of pumps and switch mechanisms, the most efficient and durable are electronic ones that use sensors or solid-state components to discern water levels. These advanced designs are a popular alternative to traditional mechanical switches that can wear out or become stuck, causing inaccurate water detection and pump activation.

Tethered float switches utilize a tether that connects the float to the pump via a cable or cord, allowing it to rise and trigger the switch once it reaches a predetermined height. This type of switch can competently manage significant water level fluctuations and is well-suited for basins with narrow dimensions. Its tether also prevents the float from moving around excessively, allowing it to operate with great accuracy.

Vertical switches are similar to tethered switches but utilize a rod that travels up and down on the shaft of the pump. As the float rises, it pulls the rod up with it. Once the rod reaches a certain height, it triggers the switch and activates the pump. Once the float falls, it pulls the rod back down and the switch is deactivated. This type of switch is best suited for smaller diameter pits and can manage significant water levels changes with little to no variation in cycle length.

Diaphragm switches are similar to vertical switches in that they both rely on pressure to detect water levels. As the water level rises, the diaphragm expands and activates the switch, triggering the pump to begin operation. When the water level drops, the diaphragm re-expands and signals the pump to turn off. This type of switch is suitable for basins with limited space, but can become unresponsive to high water pressure and susceptible to debris build-up over time.

Solid-state electronic switches are the cutting edge of sump pump switch technology and are ideal for applications with highly variable water levels, requiring greater precision in pump activation. Using solid-state circuitry, they are immune to mechanical wear and debris and have superior longevity and reliability over other switches. In addition, they are more resistant to environmental factors than other switch types and can be easily maintained by a plumber with the appropriate tools.

Battery Backup

Many homeowners in areas with high levels of flooding find a battery backup sump pump to be a valuable investment. It’s a quick and easy way to protect your home from flooding and water damage that comes from power outages. It also works around clogs to the primary pipe, which often cause it to stop functioning. Adding a battery backup can prevent these problems without the need for an electrician to repair it or replace it.

While the cost of a battery backup system may seem like a significant outlay, it’s worth the investment for peace of mind. It’s a simple way to avoid waking up in the middle of a storm to a flooded basement or crawl space. It can also protect you from the expenses that come with flooding and water damage repairs and restoration.

When choosing a battery backup system, look for one that offers adequate pumping volume. It should also have a long enough run time to allow it to work during most outages. You can even opt for a Wi-fi sump pump monitor to get updates to your phone in the event of a problem.

A good battery backup sump system will also include a battery that’s designed to drain and recharge at an appropriate rate. Look for a wet cell marine battery, as these are able to provide deep discharges over extended periods of time.

Another benefit of a battery backup is that it can help you avoid the need to reset your pump when it overheats. Overheating occurs when the thermal protection stops working or there isn’t enough water around the motor to cool it down. A battery backup can keep your basement protected while you reset the main pump.

Homeowners with a strong knowledge of electricity and plumbing may be able to install a battery backup system themselves, but it’s often better to leave these installations to professional sump pump installers or electricians. They will have the skills and tools needed to properly connect your pump to the battery and test it for safety. They can also make sure the battery’s water level and terminals are properly maintained.


It’s important to keep up with regular maintenance on your sump pump to ensure it continues working. You can do a lot of simple tasks to help make sure your sump pump works well.

First, spray down the outside of your pump with a garden hose to remove any dirt and grime that has collected. Then use a plastic scraping tool to get any stuck on debris off the surface of the pump. You can also clean the interior of the pump by disassembling it and using a small amount of disinfecting vinegar or bleach. Make sure to unplug the power cord or flip the breaker on the breaker box before doing this, though.

Next, inspect the discharge pipe to make sure it isn’t clogged. The discharge pipe is responsible for diverting water away from your house, so it’s important that it continues to work correctly. You can test this by pouring water into the pit and seeing if it hits the automatic float switch and activates operations.

You should also test the check valve, if you have one, to make sure it’s working properly. This is installed on the discharge line and prevents water from reentering the pit once it’s pumped out of the basement. You can also look into installing a battery backup, which will ensure that your sump pump will continue working in the event of a power outage or other failures.

Finally, you can also install a water level or flood alarm to alert you if the sump pump isn’t working properly and your basement is flooding. This is a great safety feature to have for homes in areas prone to frequent heavy rain and storms. Adding this device to your home is an easy and affordable way to prevent expensive repairs and protect your family from mold and other water damage. If you want to learn more about preventing and repairing sump pump issues or would like to have an annual sump maintenance plan for your home, contact us today to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.

Trey Thomas