Sump pumps explained - what you need to know

by Broady Windsor Group on Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Here in the West Island of Montreal, we get to enjoy snowy winters and beautiful summers. But in-between the snow and the sun? Well, that will be the spring thaw. We’ve just experienced an extremely cold winter, with higher-than-average snowfall. So as the weather warms up, we can expect to see a lot of ground water from the melting snow. In addition, Quebec springs are notorious for being unpredictable, with April showers often being more like rain storms. All of this adds up to a high risk of flooding, which for homes with basements can spell disaster.

With this in mind, just as we winterize our homes to prepare them for the cold weather, it’s equally important to prepare them for spring. Given the high risk of flooding, one of the most important tasks at this time of year is to check your sump pump. This hidden appliance is paid little attention, but it can be a lifesaver for your home. 

Read on for the 101 on the sump pump … 

What is a sump pump?

A sump pump is a mechanism that collects groundwater from the perimeter of the foundation via the french drain, and removes it away from the home via a series of pipes. Not every home will have a sump pump. But if you live in an area that’s prone to flooding, your home is located on flat land with poor drainage or on a low-lying plot, or if you have a nicely finished basement, then you’ll need a sump pump. 

Located in the basement of detached homes and townhouses, the sump pump works by collecting water in a basin called a sump pit When the water rises to a certain level, a float completes the electrical circuit, engaging the pump. You won’t know it’s there, but it keeps a constant vigil, protecting your home 24/7.

What type of sump pump is best?

There are two types of sump pump – submersible and pedestal:
•Submersible Pump – this sealed unit sits at the bottom of the sump basin (hence the name). It’s the most common type of sump pump. It may be more expensive than pedestal pumps, but it’s quieter, so is far less conspicuous. 
•Pedestal Pump – this sits above the water line, and works with gravity. It’s the less expensive option and is easier to service than the submersible pump, but it’s noisier and can create odours.

Whichever type of sump pump you choose, remember two is better than one, so make sure you have a primary AND a backup. But more about this later. For even greater peace of mind, modern sump pumps also have alarms that alert homeowners when the water has reached a critical point. 

How do you maintain a sump pump?

A properly maintained sump pump will last 10-15 years. However, wear and tear can cause them to fail earlier than this – parts can rust, seals can leak and motors can fail. Some pumps will be going continuously, so you’ll soon know if there’s an issue. Others can sit unused for years, and you don’t know there’s a problem until it’s too late. It’s therefore important the pump is inspected annually, to ensure it’s in good working order. Contact a good plumber for advice. If you don’t have one already, you can always join our Homeowners Advisory Club to access vetted local professionals. 

How much do sump pumps cost?

This depends on a number of factors, so we can only give approximate figures. To replace an existing sump pump, costs start at as little as $450, depending on the amount of output required. To install a new sump pump, costs typically range from $1,000-$3,000. If you don’t have a sump pit, costs can reach $7,000 to have the complete system installed. This may sound steep, but as you’ll read later in this post, it’s a small price to pay, given the financial consequences you could face if you experience flooding. 

The importance of having a back up 

Sump pumps need electricity to run. Unfortunately, extreme flooding and powerful storms will often go hand-in-hand with power outages. If this happens, your pump will stop working. So just as you have insurance to protect your home belongings, you should also have a backup for your sump pump. The most popular back-up systems are battery-powered backup units; the batteries themselves will normally be sold separately. New or well-maintained batteries will run a backup sump pump for 5-7 hours. This provides 2 days of intermittent pumping. For ultimate peace of mind, homeowners can install a propane-powered generator that automatically switches on in the event of a power outage. 

Why are sump pumps so important?

As well as the emotional impact of flooding, putting right the damage caused can also be extremely costly. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the average repair bill for a flooded basement is $43,000. On top of this, homeowners will also face a rise in insurance premiums. Given that the cost of sump pumps ranges from $1,000-$3,000, we think you’ll agree it’s a small investment to protect your home and wellbeing, if your property is at risk of flooding.

So as you can see, sump pumps are a vital component of your water management system. Whether that’s to keep your house in tip-top shape for you to enjoy, or with a view to selling, this is one of the wisest investments you can make in your home, to protect your financial future. 

A final word …

Here at the Broady Windsor Group we’re not only local real estate experts, but we also grew up in the West Island. We’ve seen first-hand how devastating these floods can be, so understand the importance of waterproofing homes to maintain their structural integrity. We can guide sellers on elements that need to be put right, and alert our buyers to anything that requires attention. Get in touch today and see how we do things differently. We take the time to share our knowledge with you, ensuring you’re comfortable every step of the way. To learn more, contact us on 514-612-8041 or email us at