Here we’ll look at 2 things: (1) the types and styles of sump pumps and (2) how to pick which is best for your needs.

Sump Pump Buyers Guide FloodWith the correct sump pump you’ll never have to worry about your home’s lowest level flooding – ruing your furniture and electronics.

You’ll be able to rest easy next rain storm or snow melt knowing that your sump system can drain any amount of water.

There are 2 types and 2 sub-styles of each type:

Type 1: Primary 

First line of defence (plugged in to your electrical outlet). The 2 styles of primary sump pumps are:

  • Style 1: Submersible – More popular. Designed to pump out solids in the water. Waterproof. Generally require a larger size sump pit especially if you’re going to have a backup pump.
  • Style 2: Pedestal – Easier access to moving parts as they’re out of the sump pit. Can fit easier into shallow and narrow sump pits.

Type 2: Backup 

In case the power goes out during a big storm and your primary pump stops functioning. The 2 styles of backup sump pumps are:

  • Style 1: Battery powered – Uses a rechargeable battery to power a second backup pump.
  • Style 2: Water powered – Uses city supply water to form suction in a pump to drain water.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of the primary styles

It isn’t recommended to use a backup pump as a primary. The reason being they’re not as reliable – generally they can’t handle the same water flows.

So instead of comparing primary and backup, we’ll be comparing the pros and cons of the styles of each type.

Primary – Submersible

Zoeller M98 Sump Pump

A submersible sump pump is the current gold-standard for residential use. The reason being they’re reliable, affordable and easy to install.

They are, however, constrained to the larger sump pits. You need one that is at least 1 foot wide and about 2 foot deep to accommodate this style of primary pump.

They come with a float switch to auto turn on.


  1. Submersed in the water so the water acts to keep the motor cool during times of extended use.
  2. They’re quiet because the unit sits within the sump pit so the water and the sump cover act as noise barriers.


  1. If something goes wrong they’re less accessible.

Primary – Pedestal

Wayne SPV800 Pedestal Pump

A pedestal sump pump’s motor and pump sit above the sump pit. It’s inlet and float sit in the sump pit.

They’re mainly used in situations where a submersible pump won’t fit into your pit.

By nature of they’re setup a certain advantage (as you’ll see in the pros) makes them favorites for old-school plumbers and fitters.


  1. Moving parts easily accessible.
  2. Fit easily into small sump pits.


  1. Noisier because motor and pump operating outside the sump.
  2. Motor can overheat if run continuously.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of the backup styles:

Backup – Battery Powered

Wayne Battery backup sump pump

A battery powered backup sump pump is a second pump in your pit that is powered by a deep cycle battery.

If the primary pump stops functioning for any reason, for example, because the power goes out in a big storm, your backup pump will be activated. Your backup pump will also be activated if your primary can’t handle the amount of water and the pit begins to fill.

It has its own float switch and should be installed with its own piping. They have lower flow rates for the cost when compared with primary pumps.


  1. Only require a charged battery to function.


  1. Battery may deplete before power comes back on, or before primary can handle the load solely.

Backup – Water Powered

Basepump 750 water powered backup sump pumpThe water powered backup pumps work by using city water at pressure to form a suction that pulls water from the sump pit.

It depends on the pressure but generally it requires 1 GPM of water to drain 2 GPM.

The unit sits above the pit and must be connected to your city water feed.


  1. Endless supply of power.
  2. Less moving parts to fail.


  1. Waste a lot of city water. Also this means a larger water bill.
  2. Low flow rates.

>>> Check out the best sump pump picks of each category here <<<

Other Features and Attachments

Float Switch – A float switch tells the pump to turn on when the water reaches a certain level in the sump pit. Usually it will use an air filled float (ballon looking thing) that is connected with a rod to a switch. When the float raises enough it actuates the switch that turns the pump on.

Check Valve – You’ll want to incorporate a check valve on the output side of your pump so that the water being pump out of the pit doesn’t come back into it. They’re only about $10 and easy to install.

VIDEO: How to Install a Sump Pump

Sump Pump Brand Recommendations

Zoeller – Zoeller dominates the submersible pump category. It is often said the plumbers won’t work with any other brand of submersible sump pump.

Wayne – Wayne Pumps offers a variety of pumping solutions. From pool cover pumps to sump pumps – they are Zoeller’s main competition in the submersible pumping category.

Red Lion/Little Giant – Red Lion used to be called Little Giant, so when you’re searching note that there the same pump. They offer affordable pumps in the pedestal, submersible and backup categories. They aren’t as popular as Wayne and Zoeller.

Flotec – Flotec’s pedestal pumps are second to none. They also offer a range of submersibles.