Drain or Sump Pump Installed in Basements or Crawlspaces

Scope

Install a drain or sump pump in homes with a basement or crawlspace. General instructions for installing a sump pump are as follows. For additional details see the Description tab.

  1. Select a location in the basement or crawlspace.
  2. Dig a hole or remove the concrete floor.
  3. Place gravel in the bottom of the sump pit and place the liner.
  4. Install the sump pump, wiring, and the discharge pipe with the check valve.
  5. Cover with a gasketed, airtight cover.

DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Notes

The DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program requires that builders comply with EPA Indoor airPLUS. The Indoor airPLUS checklist (Item 1.1) requires that builders install a drain or sump pump in basements and crawlspaces (exception: free-draining soils). In EPA Radon Zone 1, a check valve should also be installed.  The Indoor airPLUS Construction Specifications notes for item 1.1, Site and Foundation Drainage, that builders should install a drain or sump pump in basement and crawlspace floors, discharging to daylight at least 10 ft. outside the foundation or into an approved sewer system.

Exceptions: Installation of a drain or sump pump is not required in homes with slab-on-grade foundations and in areas of free-draining soils identified as Group 1 (Table R405.1, 2009 IRC) by a certified hydrologist, soil scientist, or engineer through a site visit. In EPA Radon Zone 1, if a drain tile discharges to daylight, install a check valve at the drain tile outfall (see Indoor airPLUS Construction Specification 2.1).

ENERGY STAR Certified Homes Notes

The ENERGY STAR Certified Homes National Program Requirements addresses sump pumps in the Water Management System Builder Checklist, item 1.7, which states “Sump pump covers mechanically attached with full gasket seal or equivalent.”  See the guide Gasketed/Sealed Sump Covers for more information about meeting this ENERGY STAR requirement.

Description

Bulk water must be drained from the lowest portions of the foundation (below the interior finish floor level): this is the function of the footing drain, which is in turn drained to daylight or to a sump pit and pumped out (see Figure 1).  The drain or sump (Figure 2) keeps ground water levels below interior floor levels and also drains away any water that has been collected by the foundation wall drainage system.

The outflow from the sump pit must be directed to a storm sewer (if permitted by your local municipality) or a dry well away from the foundation.  Depositing the outflow next to the foundation will result in simply “recycling” water in and out through the foundation drainage system.  The sump pit should have an airtight cover for indoor air quality reasons; if not covered, the sump can allow soil gases (including radon, water vapor, herbicides, termiticides, methane, etc.) into the home, which can be detrimental to occupant health. See the guide Gasketed/Sealed Sump Covers for more information about covering the sump pit.

Sump pump plan

Figure 1. Basement plan showing sump pump location and perimeter drain that empties to the sump pit. (Image courtesy of BSC)

Sump pump cross section

Figure 2. The sump pump is installed in the basement or crawlspace floor to collect water from the foundation drainage piping and pump it out and away from the house to a storm sewer or dry well. (Image courtesy of BSC)

How to Install a Sump Pump

1.   Select a location in the basement or the crawlspace.  The sump pump should be located in the lowest spot of the floor, near a wall so the discharge pipe can be easily directed outside and near an electrical outlet to power the sump pump. Select a sump pump with a tight fitting, gasketed cover that is mechanically fastened. Sump covers that permit observation of conditions in the sump pit are recommended.

2.   For a retrofit case, dig a hole or remove the concrete floor 6 to 10 inches deeper and wider than the sump liner.  For new construction, the hole should be approximately the same size as the sump liner (see Figure 3).

3.   Fill the bottom of the sump pit with gravel and place the liner.  Connect the sump pit to the perimeter drain or the sub-slab gravel field by using a perforated sump pit liner or through-footing pipes that are connected to the perimeter drain.  In a retrofit case, fill the sump pit with additional gravel around the sump liner and place a layer of concrete at the edge of the liner.

Sump pump liner

Figure 3. Install the sump pit liner. (Image courtesy of BSC)

4.    Install the discharge pipe to direct water out and away from the building.  Install a check valve to prevent discharged water from flowing back into the sump pit when the sump pump turns off.  Place the pump in the sump pit and plug it in (Figure 4).  Make sure the float is unobstructed. The outlet may need to be a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) safety outlet - refer to the National Electrical Code (NEC).

Install the sump pump 

Figure 4. Install the sump pump. (Image courtesy of BSC)

5.    Place the airtight cover on the sump and connect the last section of the discharge pipe (Figure 5).   See the guide Gasketed/Sealed Sump Covers for more information.
6.    If the sump is installed in a concrete slab, caulk around the outside edge of the sump pit liner where the liner meets the concrete (EPA 1994). If the sump is installed in a crawlspace with a dirt floor covered by a polyethylene vapor barrier, ensure that polyethylene covers the ground around the sump pump and is taped to the rim of the liner.

Install the sump pump cover

Figure 5. Install the sump pump cover. (Image courtesy of BSC)

Ensuring Success

Test the sump pump system to ensure that water is properly discharged out and away from the building.  Verify the cover is tightly placed over the sump pit to prevent soil gases from entering the building.

Climate

No climate specific information applies.

Training

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Presentations

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Compliance

The Compliance tab contains both program and code information. Code language is excerpted and summarized below. For exact code language, refer to the applicable code, which may require purchase from the publisher. While we continually update our database, links may have changed since posting. Please contact our webmaster if you find broken links.

DOE Zero Energy Ready Home

The DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program requires that builders comply with EPA Indoor airPLUS. The Indoor airPLUS checklist (Item 1.1) requires that builders install a drain or sump pump in basements and crawlspaces (exception: free-draining soils). In EPA Radon Zone 1, a check valve should also be installed.  The Indoor airPLUS Construction Specifications notes in item 1.1, Site and Foundation Drainage, that builders should install a drain or sump pump in basement and crawlspace floors, discharging to daylight at least 10 ft. outside the foundation or into an approved sewer system.

Exceptions: Installation of a drain or sump pump is not required in homes with slab-on-grade foundations and in areas of free-draining soils identified as Group 1 (Table R405.1, 2009 IRC) by a certified hydrologist, soil scientist, or engineer through a site visit. In EPA Radon Zone 1, if a drain tile discharges to daylight, install a check valve at the drain tile outfall (see Indoor airPLUS Construction Specification 2.1).

ENERGY STAR Certified Homes

The ENERGY STAR Certified Homes National Program Requirements addresses sump pumps in the Water Management System Builder Checklist, item 1.7, which states “Sump pump covers mechanically attached with full gasket seal or equivalent.”  See the guide Gasketed/Sealed sump Covers for more information about meeting this ENERGY STAR requirement.

2009 International Residential Code (IRC)

Chapter 30 Sanitary Drainage, Section P3007 Sumps and Ejectors

Chapter 33 Storm Drainage, Section P3303 Sumps and Pumping Systems

2012 International Residential Code (IRC)

Chapter 30 Sanitary Drainage, Section P3007 Sumps and Ejectors

Chapter 33 Storm Drainage, Section P3303 Sumps and Pumping Systems

More Info.

Access to some references may require purchase from the publisher. While we continually update our database, links may have changed since posting. Please contact our webmaster if you find broken links.

Case Studies

None Available

References and Resources*

  1. Author(s): Lstiburek
    Organization(s): BSC
    Publication Date: January, 2006
    Book presenting the best techniques for energy and resource efficient residential construction in the colder climates of North America.
  2. Author(s): EPA
    Organization(s): EPA
    Publication Date: April, 2001
    Document detailing how to build radon-resistant homes.
  3. Author(s): Ueno, Lstiburek
    Organization(s): BSC
    Publication Date: January, 2011
    Report about the fundamental concepts that must be understood at the planning or initial nspection of existing homes regarding surface and ground water management.
  4. Author(s): DOE
    Organization(s): DOE
    Publication Date: April, 2017

    Standard requirements for DOE's Zero Energy Ready Home national program certification.

  5. Author(s): EPA
    Organization(s): EPA
    Publication Date: June, 2013
    Standard document containing the rater checklists and national program requirements for ENERGY STAR Certified Homes, Version 3 (Rev. 7).
  6. Author(s): EPA
    Organization(s): EPA
    Publication Date: January, 1994
    Standard providing information on contractors who offer radon control services to homeowners.
  7. Author(s): EPA
    Organization(s): EPA
    Publication Date: October, 2015
    Website providing technical guidance to help home builders and their subcontractors, architects, and other housing professionals understand the intent and implementation of the specification requirements of the IAQ labeling program.
  8. Author(s): EPA
    Organization(s): EPA
    Publication Date: February, 2011
    Guide describing details that serve as a visual reference for each of the line items in the Water Management System Builder Checklist.

Contributors to this Guide

The following authors and organizations contributed to the content in this Guide.

Building Science Corporation, lead for the Building Science Consortium (BSC), a DOE Building America Research Team

Last Updated: 06/19/2014

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