Buying a House With a Sump Pump: 8 Things You Need to Know

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 18, 2024

You’re excited about this one. You’ve done your due diligence as a home buyer comparing prices, exteriors, interiors and even neighborhood amenities. This house looks like a great candidate until the realtor shows you the basement. That’s when you spot a small pit and sunken motor in the floor.

Suddenly, you find yourself wondering, “Should I avoid buying a house with a sump pump? Is it in the basement because the downstairs constantly floods?” 

If you’ve never lived in a home with one of these basement appliances, you might not be sure about buying a house with a sump pump. It helps to understand how the pump works as well as sump pump pros and cons.

house with sump pump

Blame the Lake and Rain

While you might think it’s best to avoid buying a house with a sump pump, the little mechanism in the basement floor does a big job. Water tables here in the city are higher than average because of our proximity to Lake Michigan, and annual rainfall typically totals more than 35 inches.

Both factors contribute to basement flooding in Chicago homes. Sump pumps help control water damage downstairs. The pump sits in a small basin below the floor with pipes leading to the outside. When water seeps into the basement, it triggers the pump’s float switch and activates its motor.

Consider Sump Pump Pros

If you’re having second thoughts about buying a house with a sump pump, consider the advantages of that small basement appliance. It may not be much to look at, but it’s very practical.

1. It Saves Money

Repairing a flooded basement can turn into an expensive project. A properly operating sump pump keeps drenching rains and rising water tables from flooding the downstairs and turning the basement into a disaster zone.

2. The Pump Is Self-Activating

When a severe storm or melting snow raises the water table around your home, the sump pump automatically goes to work. Unlike passive trench systems or French drains, the sump pump immediately reacts to the threat and starts moving water away from the basement.

3. Basement Storage Stays Safer

Most homeowners use the basement as extra storage space. It often serves as a laundry room too, so the sump pump protects boxed belongings and expensive appliances like washing machines, dryers and water heaters.

4. You Don’t Pay for It

Buying an older house with a sump pump saves you the expense of installing one yourself. Think of the basement pump in your prospective home as additional security equipment that comes with the house.

Understand Sump Pump Cons

The pros and cons of buying a house with a sump pump usually even out in favor of purchasing the home. Still, be aware of these potential basement pump problems.

1. It Might Mean Damage

Ask the seller when and why the sump pump was installed. Basement flooding can result in structural damage to the foundation and framing, so alert your home inspector to your concerns. He or she should be able to detect previous water damage to the house.

2. Pumps Need Electricity

If the power goes out during a storm, the sump pump won’t work, and that leaves your new basement vulnerable to flooding. However, most battery backup pump systems are affordable and easy to install.

3. Regular Maintenance Is a Must

You have to take care of the sump pump with a regular maintenance routine. The work is easy and straightforward, but you also need to regularly check outlet pipes and the discharge pipe vent.

4. Sump Pumps Get Old

Most quality sump pumps perform well for about 10 years. Ask the seller about the current pump’s age, and get information about its manufacturer and installer too. This can give you a good idea of how soon you might be out of pocket replacing the sump pump.

Enjoy Your New Home

Before you close on the house, make sure you’re confidant about everything including the sump pump. If you’re not familiar with the model in your new home, ask a neighbor for pointers, or do a little online research. Most sump pump manufacturers offer downloadable owners’ manuals through their websites.

If the sump pump ever lets you down, we’re here to help. We provide expert flooded basement cleanup for Chicago homes and businesses, and we take care of the suburbs too. Enjoy your new house, and always know you can count on us here at ServicerMaster Restoration by Zaba.