Sump pump

A sump pump is an important part of your home's foundation drainage system. It helps protect your house from flooding due to ground water infiltration.

Your sump pump is usually located in your basement in a utility room or laundry space. 

  • When it rains or the snow melts, the water is absorbed into the soil and down into the underground water table. The water table is the underground area that is saturated with water, and the water rises and falls over time.

    As the water table rises under your house, water collects in your sump pump pit. When the water reaches a certain level, it will raise the float. The pump turns on and discharges water to the outside of your home. 

Homeowner responsibilities 

As a homeowner, you are responsible for the drainage system on your property. It is important to ensure that your sump pump is in good working condition and your lot is correctly graded.


It is important to perform regular maintenance on your sump pump system every spring as well as every few months. Maintenance can help prevent backups and flooding.

Check your sump pump by slowly pouring water into your sump pit. Watch for the "float" to rise and trigger the pump. Once the pump has started, the water level will quickly lower and the float will shut off the pump.

If your home is located in a wet area or the water table is high, you may want to invest in a backup sump pump system. 

To learn more about how to check your sump pump, watch the video below.

Winter maintenance

Be sure to regularly to ensure that they are working properly.

Water draining from sump pumps can cause ice buildup on sidewalks and streets creating hazards. Ensure that your sump pump is not causing ice buildup. Also, be a good neighbour and ensure that your sump pump does not cause icing on a neighbour's property.

Piping should also be sloped so that water drains out and does not sit inside and freeze the pipe. A frozen line could damage your sump pump.

Spring maintenance

The transition from winter to spring and the fluctuating temperatures create thaw and refreeze cycles causing your sump pump to discharge more often. Check your sump pump each spring.

Summer and fall maintenance

Rainfall events can cause your sump pump to discharge more often. Check your system often to ensure the pump is working.

Grading and drainage

Proper lot grading is important for the correct flow of surface run off which prevents flooding problems and potential damage to you and your neighbour's properties.

The grade and landscape of your lot should:

  • take water away from your house
  • create a positive slope away from your house walls for at least 1.5 metres (5 feet)
  • have the ground drop a minimum of 75 mm (3 inches) within the 1.5 metre slope

Do not change this grade as it will help minimize flooding in your home. Water that sits too close to your home may flow down your foundation and to your sump pump, which will have to re-pump the water out. This can cause your sump pump to burn out prematurely.

Discharge hoses or pipes

Strathcona County does not recommend using a discharge hose or pipe connected to your sump pump discharge pipe. The discharge may freeze in the hose causing damage and flooding. Instead, use eavestrough piping or a splash pad.

Unauthorized connections

Make sure your sump pump system is not connected to the sanitary sewer system. Unauthorized connections cost all ratepayers more in treatment costs. Stormwater does not require the same level of treatment as sewage, so any stormwater entering the sewer system costs you more. 

Stormwater can also over tax the sanitary sewer system during storms. This overtaxing increase the risk of a sewer backup in both individual residences and the system as a whole.

Further information on Home drainage inspections
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Further information on sump pumps

Last updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Page ID: 39477