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Ejector Pump vs Sump Pump: What’s the Difference?

Last Updated on April 5, 2020

a Wayne sump pump

Although sump pumps and ejector pumps look similar, the roles they fill are quite different. Each one serves an important purpose, but which one you need depends on your situation because they are not interchangeable. One pump keeps your basement from flooding, and the other keeps your sewage from backing up. Let’s dive into their specific differences.

Ejector Pump

Most homes are built so gravity can transport waste to the sewers. For this to work, the home must be higher than the sewer pipes so the waste can drain properly. However, sometimes this isn’t possible because of where a home is located or because of plumbing in the basement that reaches deeper than the main sewer lines. In such cases, an ejector pump is used to force sewage out of the home’s plumbing.

Since they move waste and sewage, not just water, an ejector pump must transport the waste directly into the main sewer line. They cannot dump to an exterior location.

One of the biggest differences of an ejector pump from a sump pump is that an ejector pump can move solid waste. By using intense water pressure, the ejector pump can break up solid waste to force it farther down the line and out to the main sewer.

Without an ejector pump, basement bathrooms and any plumbing below the main sewer level would be unable to clear waste. The result would be sewage backing up into the home. This is an unsanitary health hazard and would create awful smells as well. Pipes contaminated by sewage can lead to myriad health problems. Such contaminants may include E. coli, salmonella, and others, so it’s clear that the ejector pump serves an important function.

Sump Pump

a sump pump (up close)

A sump pump provides a different function than an ejector pump. Sump pumps do not deal with waste or sewage at all. Instead, a sump pump sits in a pit beneath your basement. This pit is drainage for excess water that builds up during rainstorms, snowmelt, or flooding of any sort. When excess water accumulates in your sump pit, the sump pump expels the water out through pipes that drain to an exterior location far enough from your home to not cause any issues. Without a sump pump, these basements could be flooded every time it rains. A sump pump ensures that you keep a dry home, even when torrential storms rage outside.

Flooding in the basement is bad enough, but what would happen if that water were allowed to sit? Obvious problems would be mold, mildew, and water damage to your furniture, carpet, walls, and floors. But besides surface damage, there is a deeper problem that sump pumps make sure you don’t experience. Sitting water can cause devastation to your home’s infrastructure and foundation and create expensive problems that you wouldn’t want to deal with.

Sump pumps are mostly found in wet climates or where basements are prevalent. They are less common in dry areas or where basements are not popular.

Sump pumps cannot be joined to a sewer line. Instead, they must drain outside. Sump pumps also cannot handle anything solid. They generally have a screen or grate on the intake so the pump doesn’t suck up debris or anything hard that could damage and ruin the pump. They are meant to transport water exclusively.

If you’d like to learn more about sump pumps specifically, check out our article: 4 Different Types of Sump Pumps & Their Differences.


While each is important in its own right, ejector pumps and sump pumps are different tools that perform different jobs. Ejector pumps push waste and sewage uphill to remove it from plumbing that’s below the main sewer level. Sump pumps stop your basement from flooding by evacuating water that accumulates from natural sources.

If you require one of these pumps but don’t have it, the results could be disastrous. After reading this post, you should understand the differences between these two pumps so you know which one you need.

About the Author Adam Harris

Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!