Sump Pumps: How They Work, and Why They Are Included in Nashville Home Inspections

For home buyer and sellers in Nashville, finding a dependable home inspector is important for different reasons, none the least is knowing about pre-existing problems in a home that will lead to a near-future repair or replacement expense.

When inspections are performed on homes with basements, inspectors look for signs of flooding and water penetration in the basement that can lead to other problems including dangerous mold growth. The plumbing, sump pumps and drainage systems are carefully inspected to ensure state code is followed.

What is a Sump Pump?

Sump pumps are commonly found in a home’s basement or crawl space and are used to remove water that has accumulated in a water-collecting sump basin typically from heavy rains and flooding. Water may also enter because of natural ground water, as well as seep in from the corners of the basement’s waterproofing system.

Sump pumps send water away from a house, storm drain or well. They are used to prevent water intrusion through basements, especially those located below the water table level.

sump pump installed in a house

What You Can Learn from a Sump Pump Inspection?

Sump pump inspections should cover the following five factors:

  1. Location – Sump pump should be installed in a covered concrete basin in a low point in a basement or crawl space. It may also be in a pit of gravel that helps filter dirt out of the water. The low point is important to the sump pump and its ability to prevent clogging and from overworking and experiencing early wear and tear and break downs. 
  2. Connection – The purpose of the sump pump is to drain out excessive water and keep it from infiltrating your home from below. A sump pump should connect to a storm drain that can handle the water and discharge it safely.
  3. Functionality – When the float valve is lifted by rising water, the sump pump should automatically switch on. If it doesn’t, it is not working properly and needs to be repaired by a licensed plumber. Sump pumps that are slow to start up or make loud or screeching sounds should be inspected closely to determine life expectancy, so replacement costs aren’t a surprise. 
  4. Backup Features – Preventative features like backflow preventers and alarms that sound if the sump pump is not working can provide extra confidence in basement plumbing systems. Some homebuyers may want to add these features to their sump pump configuration before moving in.
  5. Safety – Pits and basins are typically dug in the lowest point in a basement. Covers should be used for these pits to prevent falls and serious injury.

Code Violations with Older Sump Pump Installations

In older sump pump installations, pumps may discharge to the sanitary sewer. This practice is out-of-date and now violates most state plumbing codes because it can overwhelm a city’s sewage treatment system. Many unsuspecting homebuyers have inherited an older sump pump configuration and are liable for the potential fines that can come pumps that are non-compliant with local building codes.

Sump Pump Replacement Costs

An average sump pump – pedestal or submersible style – costs between $100-$1,200 depending on the material it’s made with (plastic, cast iron or stainless steel), horsepower or torque, and features like built-in backups and alarms.

A professional installation of a sump pump with basin and drain connections costs between $2,000-$15,000 for labor and materials.

Nashville Home Inspections

J & J Home Inspectors are trained, certified, participate in continuing education, and follow national inspection industry standards set by International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). 

If you have concerns about the health of your future home’s basement, sump pump and drainage capabilities, partner with a Nashville home inspector that lives in your neighborhood. At J&J, we care about the health and longevity of Nashville homes.

Visit our Nashville Home Inspections page to get in touch!