This small change could save your basement from expensive damage.

built-in storage and wall with map

If your basement floods or becomes damp during wet periods, first try directing rainwater away from the house by changing your gutter downspouts. If that does not solve the problem, a sump pump may be the solution.

There are two basic kinds of sump pump installations. If you have no drainpipes under the basement designed specifically for handling rainwater, then dig a hole at a low point of the basement and install a perforated pit liner (you may have to perforate it yourself using a 3/8-inch spade bit). Water under the basement will slowly percolate into the liner.

If your house has rainwater drainpipes, it probably also has a pit already dug for a sump pump, with a drainpipe running into it. Purchase a nonperforated pit liner and cut a hole for the drainpipe.

A wise add-on is a rechargeable battery backup unit, which will power the pump if a heavy storm causes a power outage. A pump-failure alarm is also a good idea.


What You Need

  • Sledgehammer or electric jackhammer
  • Cold chisel
  • Drill
  • Masonry bit
  • Spade bit
  • Hole saw
  • PVC saw
  • Torpedo level
  • Screwdriver
  • Groove-joint pliers
  • Sump pump
  • Pit liner
  • PVC pipe
  • Primer
  • Cement
  • Check valve

Pedestal Sump Pump


A pedestal-type sump pump has its motor above the water and is not waterproof. It is recommended for a basement that needs frequent draining; its float can be adjusted. This type is less expensive than a submersible but is also noisier.

Step 1: Cut Hole


Use the pit liner to mark the right-size hole to cut in the basement floor. Using a masonry bit, drill a series of holes along the perimeter. (A concrete basement floor is usually 3 inches thick.) Chip out the concrete with a sledgehammer and cold chisel or an electric jackhammer.

Step 2: Install Liner and Pipe


Dig a hole deep enough for the pit liner and set the pit liner in place. Make sure the liner is resting solidly on the ground so it can support the pump. Attach a PVC standpipe to the unit, using the adapter parts supplied by the manufacturer.

Ejector Pump for Graywater


If your drain lines are above floor level and you want to install a utility sink, the simplest solution is a graywater sump box. It must be connected to the house's drain and vent lines. To provide drainage for a toilet as well, install an upflush unit.

Step 3: Install Pump


Set the pump on the bottom of the liner. It should be near the center so the float won't touch the side of the liner. Check to make sure the pump is level; place plastic shims if necessary. Place the lid on the liner.

Step 4: Install Check Valve


Just above the level of the floor, install a check valve, which ensures that water does not flow back into the pump. Run PVC pipe up and toward the exit point. Clamp the electrical wires to the side of the pipes. Plug the unit into a GFCI receptacle.

Step 5: Run Pipe Away From House


Cut a hole through the rim joist for the pipe to exit the house. Run PVC pipe out of the house and extend it so it carries water at least 6 feet from the house. Water that is discharged near the house will seep back into the basement.


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