Can A Sump Pump Be Too Powerful?

Sump pumps have been designed to prevent flooding from occurring in basements and other low lying areas. 

The benefit of using one means that you won’t have to worry about the financial implications of having to deal with a water damaged room – phew!

Whilst a sump pump might be exactly what you are after, how do you know if it is working right or is doing what it should be?

To put it simply, you will want to make sure that your sump pump isn’t working too powerful, and isn’t too small. 

With this in mind, let’s take a look at whether a sump pump can be too powerful, and other questions you might want to know about.


What Does A Sump Pump Do?

A sump pump is used to stop areas such as your basement from flooding.

Either placed against an outside wall, or in the corner of a basement, the sump pit (otherwise known as the sump basin) will likely have a debris cover over it.

The pipes which are connected to this part of the sump pump are attached to the drain pipes.

These could be drainage systems which are a part of the interior of the basement, or even weeping tile pipes around the foundation of the home.

When rainwater builds up around the foundation of the home, it collects into the drain pipe which then reaches the sump pit. Once that accumulates and reaches a certain height, the sump pump will begin to work.

This is where the magic happens! The sump pump’s impeller starts to draw out water away from the sump pit, sending it up and along the discharge pipe. 

This then gets emptied away from your home, and if placed well, should be around 5 inches underground to prevent freezing in cold weather, and downhill to stop the water rolling back towards the foundation of your home.

How Is A Sump Pump Activated?

It might seem odd to know that a sump pump can detect rainfall, but there are two ways how this can happen depending on your sump pump:

  • Float activator arm – this has a buoyant ball attached to it whilst floating on the water’s  surface. At the point the water reaches a particular height level, the sump pump kicks in.
  • Pressure sensor – As soon as the water pressure within the sump pump pit goes beyond a certain level, a pressure sensor sends out a signal for the sump pump to turn on. 

Can A Sump Pump Be Too Powerful?

In short, yes, a sump pump can be too powerful. When this happens, you may suffer from a short cycle. What that means is that the pump may stop and start very frequently. 

Whilst this may not sound too bad, it could cause your sump pump to fail, and ultimately that means it will stop working. Nobody wants a failed sump pump during a heavy rain storm!

So how can you stop it from being too powerful? There are many factors that determine how powerful a sump pump may be because there isn’t a one size fits all approach. 

Here are just a few of the requirements needed to determine the horsepower of a sump pump:

  • Area that needs to be drained which is connected to the sump pump 
  • The overall depth that the basement has
  • The depth which reaches the groundwater

Overall, the regular standard is a ⅓ hp (horsepower) pump, however, your needs may be different so it is always worth working out exactly what works best for your area, the foundation of the house, etc. 

How Do I Check My Sump Pump

Is A Higher Horsepower Better For A Sump Pump?

It’s not uncommon to find buying the right sump pump confusing, and it’s no surprise that some people decide to choose a higher horsepower in the hope it will do a better job.

A higher horsepower doesn’t mean it will be efficient for your property. In fact, as we mentioned before, it could cause your sump pump to prematurely fail. 

It might be worth actually buying a smaller sump pump due to its reliable efficiency – also, it shouldn’t fail due to it being overworked.

Most homes will not need a bigger sump pump, so it is always worth doing your research first before investing your hard earned dollars. 

How Long Can A Sump Pump Last?

If you buy the correct horse powered sump pump for your home, then you shouldn’t have any problems for a while. In fact, if a pedestal sump pump is looked after, they can stay working for up to 30 years. 

Whilst they may appear obtrusive in the home compared to a submersible sump pump, they are much more easier to service. 

Even though a submersible sump pump can be better for homes who want to hide their pump, it can be prone to problems and failure due to sometimes being difficult to service.

Because of this, you may need to replace it more often, such as in 5 or 10 years time. 

Final Thoughts

When you invest in a sump pump, you will need to make sure that you have chosen the right one for your needs. This could be for the size of your property, to whether you want it to work underground or above ground.

Do keep in mind that a sump pump can be too powerful if you purchase one that is too big for your home. Most of the time it is worth buying a smaller and more efficient sump pump that is less likely to prematurely fail.

This means taking note of the overall horsepower, and whether you want a submersible or pedestal pump. If you have taken note of these two points, your sump pump will do its job well, and also last a long time – maybe up to 30 years if serviced! 

Thanks for reading!



Bill is a DIY plumber, handyman, and homeowner with more than a decade of experience. He has replaced and repaired sump pumps, backup pumps, float switches, check valves, and many other things around his family home. An engineer and tinkerer at heart, he is always looking to see how things work and taking on new home projects that help him grow his skillsets. He is a husband and father of two boys, has a bachelors degree in Computer Engineer and minor in Mathematics and likes to make homebrew beer in his free time.

      Sump Pump Advisor