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What is a sump pump? Selling and buying a home with a sump pump

What is a sump pump?

A sump pump is a device used to remove water that has accumulated in the lowest point of your house, commonly found in basements or crawl spaces. These sump pumps are very useful to avoid flooding when heavy rains or snowstorms bring excess water to your home.

How do sump pumps work

When excess water enters your home, your sump pump will activate. It redirects water from the basement away from the home through a pump, removing water to avoid extensive damage. Sump pumps are not active all the time. They act like a drain, sucking up water and pumping it up through a pipe to drain away from your house,

Sump pumps are powered by electricity. It needs a standard wall outlet with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), which prevents electrocution. Some pumps have a backup battery, which is a fail-safe measure in case power goes out during a storm.

The water flows through drains or natural migration through the soil. The sump pump ensures that the building or crawl space stays dry.

Types of sump pumps

The two types of sump pumps that are the most common are submersible sump pump and pedestal pump.

Submersible sump pumps sit in a pit under the surface of your basement floor. It has a lifespan of five to 15 years. They are typically used when they need to be installed near living areas as they are a quieter option, They are more expensive.

Pedestal pumps are up above the basin (and the water collecting in it). As such, this pump may sound louder, but it lasts longer (20 to 30 years). You can also stash this pump in the closet to dampen the noise. These are the cheaper option but are much noisier.

Why do homes need sump pumps?

Sump pumps are not required. However, they are great for homes in areas with rapid melting of heavy snow or with heavy rain conditions. Sump pumps are common in many new construction buildings nowadays.

If you live in a rainy area such as Vancouver BC, sump pumps are a great addition to safeguard your home. Installing a sump pump on your property will prevent flooding and damage to your property.

Keep in mind, it does not take much water to cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your property. Planning ahead by installing a sump pump can prevent this problem from occurring.

Moisture in the basement causes mould and mildew growth, which can be hazardous to health and breathing.

Do I need a sump pump?

Not everyone needs a sump pump. If you live in an area that is not prone to flooding, then you likely won’t need one. Especially if you don’t have a basement!

If you live in an area that has heavy snow or rain conditions, you might want to consider getting a sump pump installed. This is for prevention of flooding and expensive maintenance required to fix flooding or water damages.

Pumps are also specific to your property. You may have a sump pump in your home, but your neighbors on either side might not. For example, your home might be built on a low-lying area while your neighbours are not. In this case, you may want to consider installing a sump pump. 

Benefits of a sump pump
Prevent Flooding from Rainwater

The primary benefit of a sump pump is avoiding flooding issues. As well as the costs associated with fixing your home. Foundation repairs can be extraordinarily expensive so consider a sump pump as a safety net to avoid this issue.

Prevent Molding

You’ll also help prevent mold issues, which can have health-related impacts.

Saves Money on Homeowners Insurance Premiums

Installing a sump pump could save you money on homeowners insurance premiums. It could also be a requirement for getting homeowners insurance in the first place, depending on your home’s setup and location.

Protects the Building 

Water below your home constantly moves. This can eventually push up and break through causing a flood. A sump pump regulates this water flow and protects your home or building. This water also rusts iron rods and weakens the overall stability of the home.

In areas with heavy rain, this can lead to major problems. Even when there’s no sign of water damage, the roots of the house can be weakened. 

Save Money

Repairs can be expensive. Avoid this expense with a properly operating sump pump. Avoid flooding and an overall disaster in the bottom of your home!

Self-activating pump

Your sump pump is not always on. It activates when it needs to remove water. The pump is an active device ready to get to work when your home is threatened with water.

Keep Your Basement Storage Safe

If you use your basement as storage, a sump pump keeps your items safe. This avoids any damage to your belongings that may have occurred otherwise.

Cons of a sump pump
Potential the Home was Damaged Before

A sump pump might signal previous damage on the property. Why was the sump pump installed in the first place? Was it a precautionary measure or did water damage occur before? These are important questions to ask the seller of a home if you are buying a home with a sump pump.

It Uses Electricity

As they run on electricity, the sump pump won’t work if your power goes out. Your home will be susceptible to damage in that time frame. However, most battery backup pump systems are affordable and easy to install. Getting a backup battery is recommended for homeowners with sump pumps.

Regular Maintenance is Needed

You need to keep up regular maintenance for your sump pump. The work is easy and straightforward, but you also need to regularly check outlet pipes and the discharge pipe vent.

Needs to be Replaced

Quality sump pumps perform well for about 10 years. Ask the seller about the current pump’s age, and get information about its manufacturer and installer. This can give you a good idea of how soon you might need to purchase and replace it.

How much does a sump pump cost?

Hiring a pro to install the basin and pump will cost you an additional $250 to $600 in labor. While it is possible to install a sump pump yourself, this will take more work on your end. Also, depending on the kind of flooring you have this may require hard work. 

If your flooring is cement, you will need a jackhammer to punch through and dig a hole for your basin. You will also need to insert a hole through your home’s siding to insert the pipe that will shuttle basin water away from your house.

How sump pumps affect buying a home

The pros and cons of buying a house with a sump pump usually even out in favor of purchasing the home. Still, be aware of these potential basement pump problems before purchasing a home.

As a potential buyer, make sure to question why the sump pump was installed. This will give you an idea if there are any past or future problems that need to be addressed.

However, the sump pump may actually be a benefit to the home! So, it is not always an issue and is sometimes a benefit to the home. For that reason, consider a sump pump a positive when it makes sense for the home. 

Here are a few things to do as a buyer when assessing a home with a sump pump:
  • Check for potential water damage – check for damage that may have occurred before the installation of the sump pump and see if there was a reason for the installation
  • Assess structural damage – flooding can do severe structural damage to your home
  • Test the functionality of the pump – test it out if you can before signing the agreement 
  • Make sure it’s installed correctly – it should be installed at the right depth or it may freeze in temperatures that are too low
  • Negotiate repairs or replacements if needed – if something is wrong then get seller to repair or replaced (factor into buyer’s agreement)
How sump pumps affect selling a home

The presence of a sump pump may alarm a buyer, agent or home inspector. They are going to look more closely for signs of water damage.

When a home inspector examines your basement, they typically check for:

Note that you are required to disclose any known water damage issues with the house as part of your seller’s disclosures.

The buyer’s inspector will be sure to point out any visible problems. Therefore, before listing your home it is a smart idea to do a pre-inspection. That way if there are any issues, you can fix them before listing your home for sale.

Marketing a house with a sump pump

Sump pumps certainly aren’t the most exciting feature in your home. However, they are a great precautionary tool to prevent water damage. This is a good selling point for homes in susceptible areas with heavy rain conditions. It is a smart investment to protect your home for future damages, so this is an appealing factor to your home.

Be ready to answer questions about your sump pump. Buyers and agents will ask questions about it. Being able to answer the question of why you have a sump pump will be a positive to the selling experience.

While real estate agents may not recommend including a sump pump in the listing, you will be expected to include it in the property disclosure statement.

A sump pump is a relatively simple piece of hardware, but it’s a selling feature for your home.


Sump pumps are a great tool for your home and fantastic precautionary tool to have. If your basement floods, it could cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in repairs. Investing in a pump can save you a fortune on potential damages. Take measures to assess a home with a sump pump if you are looking to buy a home. As a seller, be prepared to justify the presence of a sump pump in your home.

If you are looking to install a sump pump in Vancouver, be sure to check the guidelines for proper installation by the City of Vancouver.

For more information on real estate market in Vancouver, current trends, buying a home or selling a home, contact Leo Wilk – Your Top Vancouver Realtor

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