Ask Sir Fix-A-Lot: Sump Pumps

Sir Fix-A-Lot, plumbing, heating and air conditioning Knight
Ask Sir Fix-A-Lot your plumbing questions. He’s a knowledgeable knight!

This week, I’ll be answering your questions about one of my favourite spring topics: sump pumps. You know it’s spring when you hear that chugging sound from the basement! Nothing makes me happier (except, of course, a large tankard of mead).

I’ll be taking your sump pump questions all week! Tweet your questions to my comrade in arms Ryan Wandler (@KnightHeatPlumb) and he’ll pass them along to me (I don’t have a Twitter handle: I don’t mess with dark magic).

Enough prattle! Your questions await!

Sump Pumps: What Are They and Do I Need One?

Dirk the Blacksmith asks: What is a sump pump?! Can I bang one out of a single sheet of metal?

Well Dirk, I’m glad you asked. A sump pump, as the name suggests, is a pump that pumps a sump. Not too complicated, right? The real question is: what is a sump?

Sumps Are Your Friends

Actually, a sump is a hole. More accurately, it’s a hole that fills with water or some other liquid. No, really! I looked it up! Many Calgary basements will be built with a sump already installed, designed specifically for a sump pump.

Sump Pumps

The better answer: a sump pump is something that pumps water out of your basement. It keeps your basement from flooding, which is something that everyone can agree is a good thing.

Kinds of Sump Pumps

Jannice the Sellsword asks: What kind of sump pump do I need for my stately log home that I purchased with coin earned by the lamentations of my enemies?

Jannice, I can tell that we’d get along already! Tell me, did your enemies lament in unison, or did they do solo numbers?

Ah, but I’m getting off track. Back to sumps and pumps! There are two types of sump pump: pedestal and submersible.

  • Pedestal: this kind of pump sits on a little pedestal that elevates it from its sump, much like the way in which I carry my ladies across puddles on the street!

  • Submersible: this kind of pump goes right under the water, like I did when I battled the Demon of Pete’s Bog.

The main difference is price: pedestal pumps cost much less. Interestingly enough, they also last quite a bit longer (25-30 years, as opposed to 5-15 years for submersibles). Submersible pumps have one main advantage over pedestal pumps. Because they get right under the water, they’re much better at pumping debris without clogging.

Usually, I recommend pedestal pumps for their longevity and price, but if the water that is coming into the basement is particularly sludgy or filled with gross stuff, I’ll advise picking up a submersible pump.

Sump Pumps and Maintenance

Hogor the Court Jester asks: How do I know when my sump pump needs cleaning? When I asked the king, he just laughed at me!

Hi Hogor! Sounds like you’re doing your job re: making the king laugh. I’m hoping you don’t go to royalty for all of your plumbing advice, but the occasional question is not beyond even the most king-like king. Remember, even kings use toilets!

The best way to find out if your sump needs replacing is to check with a plumber. Heck if you send some photos of your pump to @knightheatplumb I may be able to tell just by looking.

On the other hand, sump pump issues can be hard to diagnose. The best way to tell if your pump needs replacing is to look and listen. Does it sound okay? Does it sound like it’s working too hard? Are there any signs of damage or wear and tear?

The worst thing that could happen is for your pump to fail just when you need it most! Be sure to check your pump before basement flooding season starts. What’s that you say? It’s already underway?! Quick! Check your sump pump before it’s too late!


Candice the Tavern Lady asks: Why haven’t you returned my phone calls?! You better be coming in to pay your tavern tab today!

Oops! Don’t know how that got in there. The lesson here is never to anger your tavern lady.

Is that all the questions we have? So be it!

Remember to send your sump pump questions to @knightheatplumb and we’ll answer them ASAP. Until next time, this is your plumbing knight Sir Fix-A-Lot signing off! I’ll be off chasing windmills… I mean dragons.


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