Homeowner's guide to sump pumps and maintenance

If you're buying or upgrading a home, you might be asking yourself, "What is a sump pump?" A sump pump is a type of pump that you install in your basement to manage excess water and prevent damage from flooding.

Whether you're buying a new home, remodeling, or building one, including a sump pump is a wise choice. Sump pumps are a proactive, and protective measure to keep your home safe from flooding. When deciding if your home should include a sump pump, here are some important things to know.

Does everyone need a sump pump?

If you live in certain areas or have particularly wet weather, a sump pump is a smart investment. If you meet any of the criteria below, a sump pump can help you maintain your home.

  • You live in an area where flooding is common1
  • You have a basement that's below ground level2
  • You deal with frequent rainstorms or heavy snow3
  • You have a home in an area with a high water table, such as one near a ravine4

Even if you don’t meet any of these conditions a sump pump may still be helpful. If flooding occurs and you don't have a sump pump, you'll need to handle water removal and repair damages.

How does a sump pump work?

A sump pump is installed in a two-foot deep pit in your basement. It pumps excess water that enters the pit away from your home. Inside the pit is a float, similar to what's in the back of a toilet. When water enters the pit from a heavy rainstorm, for example, the float rises, which activates the pump.[1]

What kind of maintenance can improve sump pump performance?

You don't want to find out that your sump pump isn't working by discovering an inch of water in your basement following a catastrophic event. To make sure it's working when you need it, here are several maintenance tips:[2]

  • Test the pump regularly5

    Add some water to the sump pump pit to trigger the pump. Make sure it starts, pumps and removes the water as it should.

  • Keep debris out6

    Make sure there's a lid on your sump pump pit to keep debris to a minimum. Check to make sure the lid is in place and the area is clutter-free.

  • Check the discharge hose for clogs7

    If the hose that pumps the water away from your house gets clogged, you can overheat the pump's engine. To keep debris and rodents from clogging the hose, place a screen or a vented cover over the end of the hose.

  • Call in a contractor8

    If you find any problems and can't troubleshoot them, it's best to call a contractor. A sump pump uses electricity to run, and the combination of water and electricity can create a dangerous do-it-yourself situation.

A sump pump is one of the many precautionary appliances you can install to protect your home from damage. There are also several smart devices available to help detect and protect your home from water damage. These devices can also help you use less water, which may in turn save you money on your utility bills.

There are instances when flood or water damage may not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. Consider adding water back up coverage to your policy and purchasing a flood insurance policy to better protect your home from losses related to flooding.

Nationwide offers this information to help you make decisions that may reduce your risk. Of course, we can't address every possible risk or guarantee these tips will work for you. However, we hope that if you use some of them, you'll better protect your family and yourself. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, its affiliates and their employees make no warranties about the information, no guarantee of results, and assume no liability in connection with the information provided.

Product, coverage, discounts, insurance terms, definitions, and other descriptions are intended for informational purposes only and do not in any way replace or modify the definitions and information contained in your individual insurance contracts, policies, and/or declaration pages from Nationwide-affiliated underwriting companies, which are controlling. Such products, coverages, terms, and discounts may vary by state and exclusions may apply.