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The Creation of a Sump Pit: The Basics

The sump pump is an essential piece of equipment in your home, providing necessary protection against flooding and sewage backup that often results in water damage. Home renovations may bring about the opportunity for creating a sump pit in order to install a system, and new builds should consider the inclusion of sump pits when pouring the concrete foundation.

Sump PitCreating a Sump Pit in an Existing Basement
Some homes were not built with a sump pit to collect excess water that would be directed away from the house via a sump pump. A water problem in the basement, or the addition of a bathroom on the lower floor, or any other major plumbing work may alert homeowners to the need for this important feature. Although usually a messy job, installing a sump pit in an existing concrete floor is entirely possible and worthwhile.

Location is important. Most often, sump pits are found in utility rooms. It is advisable to choose an appropriate spot, away from any finished areas, and to stay at least 8” from the foundation walls in order to avoid footings. Consider the installation of the discharge plumbing as well.

Trace the outline of the sump liner on the floor. Then mark the dig to be about three to four inches beyond the outline of the liner. The concrete foundation within that large circle must be broken up in order to install the pit.

Use a pneumatic jackhammer for a speedy, efficient job, or take the powerless route and break up the concrete using a sledge hammer. Either way, you will need a shovel and bucket to remove the cement pieces. There is a layer of crushed stone underneath the 2 to 4” thick concrete, which must be removed as well, but keep it handy as it will be needed for backfill later on.

Dig the sump pit to a depth that is in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines, and line it with the sump liner. You may need to perforate the sides of the liner yourself, if it does not already have holes of about 3/8”. Backfill the liner with crushed stone until it sits snugly and securely, leaving a vertical space of about 6” to pour in the concrete rim of your pit.

The next step will be to install the sump pump and discharge line. It is important the water discharge be set at a distance of at least 10 feet.

Creating a Sump Pit in a New Construction
New builds are designed from the ground up, allowing you to include a sump pit in the original plans. This makes for an easier job, although the planning and considerations are similar to installations in an existing concrete floor.

You will need to decide where the pit should be located. The ideal location for sump pumps is typically far from any living areas. Hence, they are generally installed in utility rooms and set up with regard to the discharge pipes.

The pit will be dug out in the same way as in existing basements, and backfilled with crushed stone. As the basement floor is laid, the rim of the sump liner will bond and create a reliable system.

Testing Is Imperative
Experts recommend testing the sump pit and pump system before filling that 6” tall gap with concrete. Those tests may uncover the need for an interior perimeter drain tile, which can be laid before the sump liner is cemented in. In most cases, this is not a problem on new builds, although it may be worth checking with the plumber beforehand.

Creating a sump pit in an existing concrete floor or during the construction of a new home is a wise decision. Sump pumps provide essential and reliable back up to the drainage systems and will efficiently remove water from the interior of your home, preventing potential water damage and contributing to your peace of mind.


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