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4 Different Types of Sump Pumps (with Pictures)

Best Sump PumpIf you’ve ever experienced the horror of waking up to a flooded basement, then you understand the importance of having a sump pump that you can rely on. When you start shopping, you’ll find that there are several different types of sump pumps for you to choose from. Let’s discuss the differences between them to help you determine which type of sump pump will be best for you.

The 4 Different Types of Sump Pumps:

1. Submersible Sump Pumps

Superior Pump 91570

As the name implies, a submersible pump is one that will be fully submerged in your sump pit. On one hand, this can make the pump much harder to access for replacement or servicing. On the other hand, this saves you space in your basement and is more visually appealing than a large pedestal pump sticking out.

Submersible pumps are available with high power motors that are capable of moving thousands of gallons per hour. In areas with heavy rainfall or low elevation, the extra power of a submersible pump may be the difference between a wet basement and a dry one.

Since they are designed to be contained within the underground sump pit, submersible pumps can filter out debris. This will prevent clogging that could back up the flow of water and create flooding. The extra power and ability to deal with debris do come at a cost. Submersible pumps tend to be higher priced. Unfortunately, they also have a somewhat short life expectancy of 5 to 10 years. Since they are submerged in water, any leaks or damage to the housing can cause motor failure.

For a comparison of the best sump pumps on the market, check out our article on the Best Sump Pumps 2020.

2. Pedestal Sump Pumps

Superior Pump 92333

With a pedestal sump pump, the pump motor is raised up above the top of the sump pit. An extension shaft reaches down into the pit to reach the water.

The obvious advantage of a pedestal pump is the easy accessibility of the motor. While this is great when it comes to replacement or repair, it can be a nuisance for daily life. That obtrusive motor takes up space in your basement, and it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing addition.

Since the motor is not submerged on a pedestal pump, water damage is unlikely. This is part of why pedestal sump pumps have a long lifespan of 25-30 years. If the pump does happen to need servicing, repairs are easy since the motor is exposed.

Pedestal pumps tend to have less power than submersibles. Because of this, they can move less water. In a particularly wet climate or a low-level property, this may be problematic.

One final drawback to the pedestal pumps is that they tend to be noisy. Since they are exposed, there is nothing to stop the sound of the motor from reverberating through your home.

For an in-depth comparison of the best pedestal pumps on the market, see our article on the Best Pedestal Sump Pumps 2020.

3. Water-Powered Sump Pumps

Liberty Pumps SJ10

Water-powered sump pumps can be a savior when the power goes out during a torrential storm. While traditional sump pumps won’t run without electricity, a water-powered sump pump will. Instead of electricity, It uses the water pressure from your municipal water source to create a vacuum that sucks the water from your sump pit.

In order for a water-powered sump pump to work, you must have adequate water pressure. This means that you need city or town water. Well water won’t provide enough pressure.

Water-powered pumps are often used as a backup to a main sump pump in case of power failure. They require no electricity, no battery, and no maintenance. Since they have few moving parts and no motor, they have great longevity.

One thing to keep in mind with water-powered sump pumps is that you are still charged for the water used to create the pressure that empties the sump pit. Some high-efficiency models can pump more than 2 gallons from your pit with each gallon of municipal water. Most homeowners are willing to pay the extra on their water bill for the peace of mind provided by the water-powered pump.

We have already completed an in-depth review of the best water-powered sump pumps available. If you’d like to learn more, read Best Water-Powered Sump Pumps 2020.

4. Battery-Backup Sump Pumps


Similar to a water-powered sump pump, battery backup pumps are there for when the main power goes out. These pumps still use electricity, but they have a stored battery that will power them even when there’s no main power.

Battery backup sump pumps are submersible pumps that have a battery inside their case. Some of these are battery-powered backup units only. Some are regular submersible pumps that have a battery backup pump included in case of power failure. This type is easier to fit in a smaller sump pit.

Since it’s powered by a battery and not your main electricity, expect a battery backup pump to be less powerful. This pump is intended as a backup for when power fails, so don’t expect it to the duties of your main sump pump.

If you need a battery backup sump pump, be sure to check out our comparison of the best ones on the market before you buy! Best Battery Backup Sump Pumps of 2020

Pedestal vs Submersible Sump Pumps

We’ve discussed the different types of sump pumps. Now let’s see how the two main types of pumps compare to each other.


The submersible wins here. Equipped with more powerful motors capable of displacing greater volumes of water, a submersible pump is the best choice when maximum water flow is necessary.


Since the pedestal pump’s motor is exposed and above ground, it can be the cause of lost sleep with all of the noise it creates. If you’re looking for a pump that is less likely to wake the whole neighborhood, then the submersible pump wins this category.


When you need to repair or replace your pump, you’re going to be hoping for some easy access. Here, the pedestal pump takes the win. Since the motor is housed above ground and is not submerged, it can be easily reached, unlike the submersible pump.


Although the submersible pumps can handle debris that will clog a pedestal pump, they have a much shorter lifespan overall. Provided you keep your pedestal pump from being clogged and damaged by debris, it should have a lifespan of 25-30 years. This is 2-3 times longer than a submersible pump is expected to last.

⅓ vs ½ HP Sump Pumps

The horsepower rating of your sump pump tells you how powerful the motor is. A more powerful motor can move greater amounts of water.

The farther and higher you need to pump water to remove it from your sump pit, the more powerful motor you will require. Also, the more quickly you need to remove water, the more powerful motor you need. If you’re experiencing only slow water flow into your sump pit, or you don’t have to move the water a long distance to discharge it, then a ⅓ HP pump should be adequate.

If your sump pit tends to fill quickly, or you have to move the water a long distance to discharge it, then you may require a more powerful motor such as ½ HP or even higher.


There are a lot of factors to consider before deciding which type of sump pump is right for your home. Hopefully, this article has helped you make the right decision which will lead to a dry home for many years to come.

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