Can You Finish a Basement with a Sump Pump? (Things to Know)

Even without finishing a basement, it is essential to install a proper drainage system. It is best to install the drainage system during the first stages of the construction of the house. In areas with extreme weather conditions such as hard snow and rainfall, a basement is designed to use as shelter. A flooded basement will not provide the protection you need.

Yes, you can finish a basement with a sump pump. The type of drainage system you will use is going to depend on the topographical and geographical location of your home. For most homes in the United States, a French drainage system works just fine. Before installing your sump pump, there are a couple of things you need to consider.

A sump pump’s job is to clear out any floods in a house or basement. It is usually located in the lowest part of a house which is either a basement or crawlspace. Keep in mind that a sump pump and drainage system only drain the water and does not prevent any water from seeping through the walls.


The common causes of basement floods are heavy rain and moisture. The storm over saturates the soil. The basement walls are directly facing the water-filled ground. The water later finds its way into the basement walls through any cracks or open windows. Make sure that you inspect any cracks on the foundation before doing any further finishing in your basement.

Clogged gutters in your household can be another cause of water pressure. The expanding soil will create lateral pressure against the wall foundations and will cause moisture on the walls. A clear sign of moisture in a basement is the discoloration of walls and mold build-up. A quick visual inspection will be enough to find out where the water comes from. If there are not any signs of any moisture, but you still experience flooding, hire a professional to help you with the problem.

If you experience floods in your home, you should be ready to clean it up. It is better to get the water leakage fixed when it is not raining so any sealant you use can dry up completely. Before hiring a professional, make sure there are no floods. Do not expect the professional contractor to clean the flooding for you. That is not part of their job description. If you need help cleaning, you can hire a cleaning service. You can purchase products that will help you with the process:

  • Green Expert Utility Pump

(Price: $55)

This pump will assist you when you experience floods in your basement. The engine has ¼ horsepower, and it is energy efficient. It can remove a maximum of 26 gallons of water in minutes. It is easy to install so you can use it right out of the box.


(Price: $30)

This easy to use spin mop will help you dry the surface right after you are done pumping the water out. It has a built-In wringer that is foot activated. You can easily replace the mop once it gets filled with dirt and grime.


(Price: $25)

Flood barriers can help the water from spreading further into other dry areas in your basement. You can also use this product to divert the water to one location. Use this to block any doorways to keep the water from spreading into other rooms. These barriers are 10 feet long and activated by water.

Once you have cleaned out the flood, make sure to call the water department or a service provider to check all the leaks. You must prevent this early on if you do not want to deal with more damage in the future.


A sump pump can drain the water in your basement to reduce or prevent flooding. Your man cave will contain a lot of your expensive equipment such as your entertainment system, gaming systems, and a lot of your precious belongings. Your man cave will have a lot of your valuable belongings in storage. Some items will break if the basement floods. Some insurance companies do not cover any water and flood damage. You better check your insurance policy to make sure.

If you are beginning to set up your man cave, it is better to start installing the drainage first before moving any equipment. When installing the system, you may have to tear down walls and reinforce them with waterproof materials. Plus, the drainage system will require you to dig up the sides of each firewall to install the pipes. You want a close to space, so it is more comfortable to work on the installation.

Waterproofing products are not enough to stop any flooding. It can help decrease any water from penetrating the house but installing a proper drainage system is still the best way to end any floods. Preventing floods is a combination of adequate maintenance, waterproofing, and the right drainage. If you do not do any of these precautions, you might literally do some basement fishing.


Here are some tips on how to further prevent any floods and water leakage before or after you install the sump pump and drainage system:

  • Sump pump maintenance

Before a storm or heavy rains fall, make it a habit to check if your sump pump is working correctly or that it is plugged in. Fill the basin with water to check if it is working correctly. If it is not working, you can call the manufacturer if the warranty still covers it.

  • Properly landscape your yard

The slope of your front and back yard may be angled towards your home. The direction of the soil can contribute to the flooding in your basement. Make sure you properly landscape your lawn and backyard so that it is leveled.

  • Clean and inspect septic systems

Inspect your sewage and septic tank systems. Lack of maintenance may cause clogs and water overflow, which will later lead to puddles and leaks inside your home. Make it a habit to inspect all your water pipe systems at least once or twice a year.

  • Inspect for cracks on the foundation

Cracks in the foundation will cause water to leak in through the walls. You can visually inspect the interior and look for leaks. If you find any discoloration, it means that there must be a crack in the foundation. Fix the problems immediately before another storm comes.

  • Clean and maintain downspouts and gutters

Maintaining the cleanliness of all your gutters and downspouts will help prevent any floods in your home. Make sure that the drains are free from any debris and leaves, so it does not get clogged. You can add extensions, so water flows away from the foundation.

  • Install window well covers

Window well covers and other sealants can work well in preventing any water seepage and leaks. You may also want to inspect the walls of your basement for any signs of leaks such as discoloration. Preventing water from flooding is always better than solving the problem.  


Before installing a sump pump and drainage system, make sure there aren’t any obstructions in the way. You can focus better and optimize workflow when working in an empty and clean space. The pump will be set in a basin or pit. A pump is activated by water and shuts off once the water levels fall. Installing a sump pump is an inexpensive way to prevent floods. It is also straightforward to install if you have the right tools and skills.

A capable sump pump will require the right drainage system, such as a French drain system. To install the drainage, you will need to dig up a trench along the walls of the basement. It is possible to install a sump pump without the drainage system, but it will work significantly effective with the proper drainage. Trench drain systems will require a lot more work to install. If you are not feeling like doing I yourself, you can always hire a professional.


In some counties, there are different legal codes when working with plumbing and remodeling of a house. You may need to get the permits before installing the sump pump and drainage system. To do this, you will need to call your local civil registrar or any department that handles construction and building codes. In some areas, you can start working on the project, then later have it inspected. It is not that difficult to get the permits. You are only going to fill out forms, and explain what you will do, then pay the fees and get the license on the same day. The hardest part will probably be the long lines.

If you decided to hire a contractor to do the work for you, it is part of their job to obtain all the necessary legal documents, so you don’t have to worry about anything other than paying. Sometimes, the contractor will discover some hidden problems under your basement, so it is best to prepare extra money for the job in case of any issues.


The most common sump pumps are the submersible and the pedestal pumps. Submersible pumps are fully concealed in the pit, which makes them a lot quieter than the pedestal type. Being a lot smoother is ideal in a household. However, submersible pumps are more expensive than pedestal pumps. Installing the sump pump by yourself will probably take one to two days of work without the drainage system. If you plan to install a French drain system along with the pump, it would probably take a week.


Before digging the sump pit, you must know the size of the actual sump pump first. You need to determine where the water builds up the most and use that for your location for your sump pit. You will need a pickaxe or jackhammer to penetrate the concrete floor. Make sure to wear the right safety gear, such as gloves and eye protection.


Once you are finished digging up the hole, you can now install the sump pump. First, set up the basin if you have one because some sump pumps do not require a basin. You can add gravel to snug the basin or sump pump. If you previously installed a drainage system, make sure all the trenches will lead down the sump pit location.


Use a PVC pipe to connect it to the open end of the check valve. Use glue to attach the PVC elbow to lead the water piping toward the basement foundation wall. Make sure you repeat this process and pipe down a suitable distance for water to flow down in a deep range.


Now you can test out the sump pump by plugging it in a GCFI-protected outlet. Pour a bucket of water to activate the automated functions of the pump. The sump pump should turn on if it reaches the specified water level. To maintain the sump pump, you will need to clean any debris out of the pit from time to time.

REMINDER: make sure you plug the sump pump cord to a GCFI outlet to ensure safety. A GCFI outlet protects people from electrical shocks. The outlet automatically shuts off when it detects any change in electric current. You need to use a tester to determine if an outlet has GCFI.



(Price: $50)

This sump pump is an example of a submersible pump. It has the features you need to clear any basement floods. This pump is designed to pump clean and dirty water, so it is excellent for basement floods.


  • 2000 gallons per hour pumping capacity
    • ½ horsepower
    • 500 watts
    • Auto start and stop
    • 25-foot power cord

(Price: $60)

This submersible sump pump is convenient and portable that you can use all over the house. It might be small, but it can take on just as much water as the standard size pumps. However, this pump is designed to pump clean water only.


  • 1100 Gallons per hour pumping capacity
    • Sturdy handle and cover
    • Super handy and portable
    • 1/3 horsepower
    • 18-foot cord

(Price: $450)

This sump pump has a battery back up in case you lose power due to heavy rainfall and floods. It is tested to work for 1 million cycles to ensure durability for heavy-duty use.


  • Primary power pumps at 5100 gallons per hour
  • Back up battery can pump water up to 2900 gallons per hour
  • Ultra-quiet performance
  • ½ horsepower
  • WAYNE CDU790

(Price: $140)

If you want something lighter than the WAYNE WSS30V, you can get this sump pump. It has an integrated vertical float switch for more reliable auto pumping. It is made with cast iron for more durability. The top suction is built, so you do not need to dig a pit for installation.


  • 1/3 horsepower
  • Top suction design
  • Up to 4600 gallons per hour pumping capacity
  • Steel construction


How to install a drainage system?


You will need to have basic construction and masonry skills to complete this project by yourself. If you are confident in your abilities and have a passion for DIY projects, I’m sure you are up for the task. Make sure you know how to use any power tools safely. Besides installing the drainage system, the number one priority is your safety.



  • Mark the path of the draining pipes

The pipes should run at about 1 foot away from the exterior walls. Place the sump or basin in the place that absorbs the most moisture.

  • Dig out the basement floor along the path

You need to dig out the trench at about 8 inches wide and 18 inches deep. You can use a pickaxe or a jackhammer (if you have one) to break through the flooring. Later, dig the soil with a shovel or pale.

  • Level the trench

The trench should go at a downward angle towards the basin. This method will allow the water to flow down the drain quickly. Use a level to make sure you get the right downward corner.

  • Place the piping into the trench

When you place the French drain piping, make sure the perforations are facing down on the soil so the water can easily find its way to the holes.

  • Connect the piping to the basin or sump

After laying down all the pipes in places, make sure you connect all the pipes to the sump pump. The sump pump will later drain the water to the soil underneath the house or a deep well.

  • Fill the trench with water drainage gravel

The water drainage gravel will allow water to seep down the holes of the piping that flows down to the basin. Do not pack the gravel tight so the water can flow downwards.

  • Seal the trench

You can now seal the trench system with your choice of cement. You can use quick-dry adhesive for this step. Wait for it to dry before testing out the complete drainage system.

How to maintain the sump pump

There are different ways to keep a sump pump. Modern sump pumps have battery-powered alarms that go off when there is irregular activity. There are also pumps that notify your phone whenever there is a problem. If you do not have this kind of sump pump, you can regularly check the pump for any irregularities.

  • Sump pump uses ground fault circuit interrupter or GFCI for power. Make sure to check the wire if it is in good shape. Living in damp areas can cause the coil to stop working. The quick fix is to reset the switch, but if the problem persists, you may need to call the manufacturer.
  • Pour a bucket of water into the pit to see if the sump pump is still working correctly from time to time. If it does not work, you need to call a repair service.
  • Ensure that all the pipes are connected tightly. Make sure all the visible holes are clear from any guck and dirt; this might cause the pipes to be clogged and not work correctly.
  • Over time, the pump can pull some small gravel into the grate. You can remove the submersible pump from the pit and clear anything blocking the entrance of the sump pump.

Finishing the basement

After you install the proper drainage system, you can now continue finishing the basement. Finishing the basement may need a different permit than working with the pipes. You will need permissions for the electricity and the whole remodeling itself. If a basement is finished with all the legal permits, you can have the basement classified as a house story. It will significantly add more value to your home and have a better return on investment.


To wrap it up, all you need to remember is that a sump pump and drainage system does not solve any initial water problems. It is a minor solution for minor flooding. It may not be able to solve frequent flooding. You will need to hire a professional to check what the problem is if you experience frequent floods. Make sure you get all the legal permits and be safe when working with tools and heavy machinery. Enjoy your basement fishing figuratively and not literally!

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