When setting up a sump pump, one very important consideration is where the water will end up draining. There are quite a few places where you definitely shouldn't let your sump pump drain; if your current setup involves one of these areas, it's probably time to redo your drain pipes.
Sewer or Floor Drains
Sump pumps are great for getting rid of flooding; however, the conditions that create flooding in your home often also overwhelm local sewer systems. If the sewer system is already trying to get rid of the runoff from heavy rains, you risk causing more flooding by trying to drain your own water into it. And if that's not enough of a disincentive, most municipalities have laws against this type of drainage, so you might be in for a fine if you're caught.
Septic Drain Field
If you have a septic system, you definitely don't want to pump excess water into your drain field. The ground there is a natural filter for septic pollutants, but if you clog it up with water, it won't function properly. And like sewer systems, the heavy rains that often lead to sump pump usage will already have your drain field pretty wet. Adding more water may even cause your septic system to back up as there's nowhere for it to discharge, leading to the plumbing in your home backing up – not to mention a very unpleasant odor.
Water can do damage to building foundations, so it's important to make sure you're draining at least twenty feet away from any buildings. Otherwise, you risk water wearing away at your foundation. The water may even soak right back into your basement, making the work the sump pump is doing pointless.
So Where Should It Drain?
The best way to determine a place for drainage is to take a look at the shape of your yard. One cause of basement flooding is a yard that diverts water towards your home, and if this is the case, you'll need to make sure that your pump discharge is not in an area that drains back towards the house.
Ideally, the water should be sent somewhere where your yard slopes away from your home – even if this is a very gradual slope, it ensures that water will move in the direction you want it to. If your yard is flat, on the other hand, it will probably be enough to make sure the discharge is at least twenty feet away. And if you already have a ditch or drainage system in place to draw water away from your home, installing your sump pump's discharge outlet there ensures that the water is taken care of properly.
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