A sump pump’s job is to move excess water from your basement to somewhere outside of your home. As the world becomes more environmentally aware, homeowners have begun to wonder if there are better ways to deal with this output. We are here to assure you that the answer is yes! Below are a few greener sump pump discharge ideas to consider, and some bad practices you should take care to avoid, as well.

Create a Rain Garden


Image via Flickr by yacht_boy

A rain garden is a small depression in your yard designed to temporarily hold and soak in rainwater and runoff. Native shrubs, perennials, and flowers flourish in these areas. Plan your garden near the bottom of a natural slope in your lawn, at least 10 feet from your foundation and downhill from your sump pump. To find the best spot, dig a hole 12 inches deep and fill with water. If the water is gone in 24 hours, then it’s the perfect place for a rain garden.

Dig a slightly sloping channel from your pump’s discharge line to the garden area. Connect and install a PVC pipe in the channel so the water will run from your home to the garden. Next, dig a hole in the garden spot in a bowl shape. The higher your slope is, the deeper the hole needs to be. Make raised banks around the hole to stop water overflow. Decide where to grow plants and cover the rest of the space with draining stones.

Cover with soil and plant your garden with native plants in your designated planting spots. Native plants help to soak up water and are easy to maintain. They also attract beneficial birds, butterflies, and insects.

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Fill Up Rain Barrels

Rain barrels are large plastic containers that capture rainwater. They collect roof runoff from downspouts and can hold water discharged from sump pumps too. Rain barrels help you conserve water and save on your water bill as you rely less on your city’s water supply. Use rain barrel collections to water your lawn, garden, and indoor plants for free.

A 50-gallon barrel with a valve on the bottom is a great option as you can connect a garden hose to it. Choose a barrel with a hole on top for the discharge pipe or drill a hole to the size needed. Level the ground where you plan to place the barrel. Elevate the barrel at least twelve inches so you can easily access the spout.

Next, measure how long the pipe needs to be to reach from the sump pump discharge line to the barrel. Cut the pipe and connect one end to the discharge line. Place the other end of the pipe into the hole on the top of the rain barrel. Connecting multiple rain barrels to the original barrel is possible with more pipes or hoses.

Build a Dry Well

A dry well is a perforated barrel made to accept water and disperse it underground and away from your home. To install one, pick a spot at least 10 feet from your home and down a slope from your sump pump discharge line. Using spray paint, mark a trench line from your home to the dry well. Mark a circle around the dry well twice its width.

Dig your trench at least 12 inches deep on a slope and wide enough to fit a PVC pipe. The pipe’s size depends on the width of your sump pump discharge line. Dig a hole deep enough to fit the dry well barrel and twice as wide. Fill the bottom of the well hole with crushed stones. Layer the bottom and sides of the hole with landscape fabric.

Drill a hole in the dry well to fit the PVC pipe that will be coming from the sump pump discharge line. Lay the PVC pipe in your trench. Put the dry well on top of the fabric in the hole and connect it to the pipe. Place the cover on the well and the surface drain inlet on top. Put crushed stone between the fabric-lined walls of the hole and the well.

Attach a 90-degree fitting to the end of the PVC pipe near your home. Place a short riser pipe inside the open end of the fitting and top it with a rubber connector with hose clamps. Back fill the trench and well hole with topsoil, leaving only the top of the surface drain exposed. Feed the discharge line through the rubber connector and tighten clamps. Excess water will now discharge through the pipe to the dry well and disperse through the underground well and stones.

Avoid Sending Water to These Places

Water travels from your sump pump through a pipe and into a flexible, weather-proof tube. The end of this tube should be as far away from your foundation as possible because the first bad place to discharge water is too close to your home. The discharge point should be at least 10 feet away from your foundation, but 20 feet is better. Otherwise, the water will reabsorb into the soil, and your pump will need to remove it again. A constant flow of water damages your foundation, contributes to erosion, and quickly wears out your sump pump.

You also need to avoid pumping water too close to your septic tank system if you have one. If you’re on a sewer system, please know that draining your water into it can cause flooding. Some city ordinances don’t allow it either, as they consider it pollution. The last place to avoid is your neighbor’s lot. It’s simple common courtesy but also against local laws in some places. If the excess water can cause problems for which you may be held liable.

Watch for These Signs of a Failing Sump Pump

When your sump pump is working well, it’s easy to forget about it until it’s too late. Check your sump pump regularly to make sure its functioning as it should. These pumps will show different signs that they’re starting to wear out. It’s important to notice these issues before a complete failure causes your basement to flood. Some things to watch out for are odd or loud noises, rust, and excessive vibration.

If it’s time to replace your sump pump, then please call on us for assistance today. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have. Trust us, like Chicago’s professional contractors and plumbers do, to have the best products for your needs. Contact us today with any questions or ideas of your own!