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Everything Virginia Needs to Know About Crawl Space Sump Pumps 

Popping open an umbrella to stay dry on a rainy day is simple enough for us, but the crawl space beneath your home doesn’t have it quite so easy. It needs a little extra help to weather the storm. 
That’s where a sump pump comes in.  
A sump pump is the “heart” of your crawl space waterproofing system that keeps water away from the delicate components beneath your house so it can stay standing for years to come. 

Let’s explore this essential appliance in-depth so that you’ll be well-equipped to handle any water that makes its way near your crawl space. 

Is a Sump Pump Necessary?

Our state is naturally humid and wet (with some locations receiving more than 45 inches of annual rainfall). This water and moisture can easily find their way into your crawl space through open vents, any cracks or gaps, and the dirt floor. 
When water and humidity are trapped inside the crawl space and left to fester, they lead to health and safety hazards including: 

Along with the installation of other waterproofing and encapsulation solutions, your crawl space, home, and family will benefit from having a sump pump in the crawl space to keep it dry. 

How Sump Pumps Keep Your Crawl Space Dry

A sump pump is a handy, automatic appliance that is part of a greater interior water management system in your crawl space. 

Coupled with interior drainage placed in the crawl space floor, a sump pump collects leaking water inside its basin and actively removes it from the crawl space. 

When water fills the basin (or sump liner) and reaches a certain level, it triggers a float switch that kicks the system on. Water from the basin is pumped through a discharge line that is directed up through the crawl space, out of the house, and away from the foundation. 

Many crawl space sump pump systems also have the following features: 

  • An airtight lid to avoid evaporation and damage from dirt/debris 
  • A check valve to prevent water from flowing back through the discharge line 
  • An alarm to alert you to high water and pump failure 
  • An anti-freeze exterior discharge line attachment 
  • A backup battery to keep the system running during power outages 

Let’s take a closer look at each piece of this process. 

1. Clean Crawl Space

Any debris like leftover building materials, failing insulation, and even animal carcasses, is removed. 

2. Install Interior Drainage

A trench is dug in the dirt crawl space floor along the interior perimeter. 
Corrugated and perforated pipes are placed in this trench and directed to drain to the sump pump. 

3. Install Sump Basin

Crews determine the lowest point in the crawl space, then dig a hole large enough to accommodate the sump basin or liner, and the basin is placed inside. 
Additionally, installers create a rough soil grade to help water flow toward the sump pump. 

Sump pump installation process.

4. Place Pump(s) in Basin

Depending on the model of the sump pump being installed, one or more pumps are placed in the basin. 
Some professionals like JES offer a 1/3 hp primary pump, a ½ or 1/3 hp secondary pump, and a battery backup pump for superior protection. 

5. Connect Discharge Line

Water is removed from the crawl space through a discharge line hooked to the basin. It is installed upwards through the basin, horizontally through a crawl space wall, and out of the house. For the best protection, the line is directed far from the home and away from the foundation. 
If cold winters and freezing pipes are a concern in your area, an anti-freeze attachment can be added to the exterior sump pump discharge line. 

6. Additional Crawl Space Insulation, Encapsulation, and Dehumidification

Once the groundwater situation has been handled, further crawl space projects can be completed, including the following: 

  • Seal crawl space vents with foam blocks 
  • Install crawl space supports to reinforce any sagging floors or floor joists 
  • Insulate the crawl space with thick foam board 
  • Encapsulate the crawl space by placing a thick vapor barrier on the walls and floor 
  • Install an energy-efficient crawl space air system that dehumidifies and improves air quality 

Maintaining Your Crawl Space Sump Pump

Like other appliances, a crawl space sump pump is subject to wear and tear. The key to keeping it in good working order is regular maintenance. 

However, most crawl spaces are tight areas to work in and can be delicate and dangerous areas, even if they have been properly waterproofed and encapsulated. Plus, a sump pump’s inner workings can be complex and fragile. 

It’s best to leave sump pump inspections and maintenance to the pros who have the proper tools and experience to handle the job. 

Reputable crawl space repair companies will offer service and maintenance plans to ensure your sump pump and other systems are operating at their highest level to give your home the protection it deserves. 

Along with checking systems like the vapor barrier, here are the steps the crawl space technicians will take when servicing your crawl space sump pump: 

  • Clean sump pump of sediment and silt 
  • Replace sump pump check valve 
  • Cycle and water test sump pump operations 
  • Change batteries in alarm 

Read on for more details. 

Clean sump pump of sediment and silt

While many sump pump systems are designed to filter out debris, sediment, and silt, it’s important to check the condition of the pump and basin regularly to ensure there are no clogs. 

Replace sump pump check valve

The check valve is what keeps the water being pumped out from cycling back into the sump pump.  
This valve inside the discharge line could potentially stick open or closed, so it’s important to make sure it is fully functional and to replace it if needed. 

Cycle and water test sump pump operations

The service tech will pour water into the sump basin to check the operation of the pump and discharge line, including its ability to activate and remove water. 

Change batteries in alarm

The alarm on your sump pump is like a smoke detector, but for water.  
It will sound when something is wrong such as pump failure and high water levels.
Also, like a smoke detector, it’s important to test and change the water alarm’s batteries annually.

Make an Informed Crawl Space Sump Pump Decision

The presence of a sump pump in your crawl space, or lack thereof, can make or break the health of your home. If water and moisture cannot be removed under your home, your house can be destabilized, and your family will not have clean air to breathe. 
It’s important to consider the benefits of waterproofing your crawl space, as well as what your options are. A reliable sump pump is an important piece of the puzzle. 
But repairing your crawl space on your own can be hazardous and ineffective. Find a local crawl space expert like JES Foundation Repair you can trust to provide long-lasting results on top of friendly service. 
Along with a free inspection and estimate and trusted repairs, you also can take advantage of our service and maintenance plans to keep your crawl space protected. Simply call us or fill out our online form to get started today. 

Crawl Space Sump Pump


Sump pumps are activated by a float switch that detects the level of water in the sump basin. The pump runs as long as it needs to pump the water out and for the water level to drop. 
The water table is high in areas throughout Virginia, especially during rainy seasons, so it isn’t a problem if the pump is running a lot. 

Water in the bottom of your sump pit or sump basin is not uncommon. A certain amount will activate the pump via the float switch, so it’s normal to have some water present under this “activation level.” 

Cleaning and maintaining your sump pump are essential to its continued operation. However, these are not DIY projects and should be left to trained professionals with the right tools and experience. 

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    JES Foundation Repair service area map of the Mid-Atlantic region.

    Our Locations


    8361 Town Center Ct
    Nottingham, MD 21236


    311 Central Rd.
    Suite 2-02
    Fredericksburg, VA 22401

    Hampton Roads & NE NC

    2569 Quality Ct
    Virginia Beach, VA 23454

    Northern VA & DC

    7940 Gainsford Ct.
    Bristow, VA 20136


    309 Quarles Rd
    Ashland, VA 23005

    Southwest Virginia / Roanoke

    2033 Cook Dr.
    Salem, VA 24153

    Western Virginia

    456 Old Courthouse Rd
    Appomattox, VA 24522


    45 W Boscawen St,
    Winchester, VA 22601