Pumps are precisely-engineered instruments meant for specific applications. Here’s a general primer on what types of pump are built for which applications.
Sump pumps prevent residential flooding by draining accumulated groundwater from basement sump pits and depositing that water outside of a building. When water moisture builds up in the earth beneath the basement concrete, pressure increases and pushes up. Wet and damp spots will result. If left unattended for long periods of time, the pressure could eventually even crack the concrete.
You May Need If: If you notice wet spots, if you notice moldy or damp areas in your basement, if you live in an area with heavy rainfall which will eventually seep into the ground.
Battery backup sump pumps are used as a second line of defense against basement flooding should your home power fail. The backup pump is inserted into the same pit as the primary sump pump. The battery activates during a power failure and most can operate for several hours.
Battery backups are perfect if you already have a sump pump. If you are installing a whole new system and want a backup, consider buying a complete system with primary and backup pumps included.
Water-powered backup sump pumps are useful if you do not wish to rely on a battery backup. Inserted into the same basin as the primary sump pump, the backup has a float switch that is located above the primary switch. If/when the primary pump fails, the water level will rise, triggering the higher float and activating the backup pump.
You May Need If: You are worried about losing power to your primary sump pump.
Sewage pumps are used to move wastewater from a building and into a sanitary sewer line or septic tank. Sewage pumps are specifically for applications in which the wastewater is located below the sewer line and needs to ejected upward. Most sewage pumps can handle waste solids up to 2” in diameter.
You May Need If: The point of wastewater collection is below grade or downhill from a sewer line or septic tank. For instance, if you have a bathroom in a basement you might not need a sewage pump.
Grinder pumps are specialized sewage pumps that are used to macerate waste solids more than 2” in diameter into a fine slurry. This allows the grinder to pump higher than a standard sewage ejector pump.
You May Need If: You already have a sewage system but excessive solids are present in the system or you need to pump higher than a regular sewage pump will allow.
Effluent pumps are used to move greywater from a building to a sanitary sewer line. Greywater is water that has been gently “used,” usually in a washing application, such as sink water, shower water, water from dishwashers and laundry machine discharge. (Important note: this does not include used toilet water, which is considered sewage). Since greywater will often include particles of soap and detergent, effluent pumps are built to handle solids up to ¾” in diameter.
You May Need If: You need to pump greywater up to a sanitary sewer line, much like with a sewage pump application.
Circulators move hot water inside a closed circuit so that it is immediately available at the tap. Most systems only move cold water in a circuit, meaning that you have to wait for your water heater to send hot water to a tap. This results in annoyance, water waste and higher costs.
You May Need If: You are tired of waiting for hot water at the tap and want it immediately.
Getting Water From a Well
Jet Well Pumps
Jet pumps use suction to draw water up from a well. The pump is mounted above the well attached to a pipe that extends down to the water table. The force of jet suction creates atmospheric pressure in the pipe which moves the water up – think of it like using a straw. Shallow well jet pumps can draw from water tables up to 25 ft. underground. Anything deeper and you should use a deep well jet pump.
Convertible jet well pumps also sit above ground but come equipped with a submersible jet ejector assembly that can be used to increase the operating depth to about 90 ft.
You May Need If: You rely on a well for your water needs and your well casing is less than 4” diameter (a submersible would not fit).
Submersible Well Pumps
Submersible well pumps are actually inserted into the well and eject the water upwards (as opposed to using suction). Submersible well pumps are generally more compact, more efficient and quieter than jet pumps. A submersible well needs no priming and being submerged helps cool the motor.
You May Need If: You have a well and your well casing is greater than 4” in diameter.
Lawn Sprinkler pumps are used to transport water from a water source to a sprinkler system. Can also be used for irrigation purposes.
You May Need If: You have a built-in sprinkler system.
Fountain pumps are used for powering waterscapes, pond aeration and decorative water displays. Fountain pumps work with different types of filters to create displays.
You May Need If: You are an aesthete and you want to liven up the water fountain outside of your home.
Pond pumps are used to circulate water in a pond, stream, waterfall or filtration system.
You May Need If: You have a pond.
Booster pumps are supplemental pumps that work with a pressure tank to increase water pressure within a system. Keep in mind that a booster might not affect the volume of the water you receive, just the pressure.
You May Need If: You are dissatisfied with the amount of water pressure you are receiving at the tap, you are the building manager of a multistory building and the water pressure dissipates on higher level floors, etc.
Utility pumps are compact, portable dewatering pumps designed for either indoor and outdoor use. They are suitable for removing water in a wide range of applications, such as sucking water off of a wet floor, though they are not appropriate for use in sump basins.
You May Need If: You have a general water moving application and no other category of pump quite fits.