Buying Guide

Best Pumps for Your Home

Pump Performance
Two people working on a blue water pump.

Utility pumps are used for a variety of jobs. They can empty clogged sinks, drain rain from window wells and remove standing water from your yard or flooded basement. Buying the right pump means considering pumping power, size, portability, pressure, durability, whether it is energy efficient and other performance factors. 

  • Capacity is how much fluid the pump can move and it’s measured in gallons per minute or gallons per hour. 
  • Power is measured in horsepower. The higher the horsepower, the quicker the pump will work and the better it will do when moving water longer distances.
  • Quality pumps are made of a variety of sturdy materials, including sheet metal, cast iron, stainless steel and other materials.
  • Power sources such as gasoline create a higher-speed machine. Other fuel sources include electricity, natural gas, diesel, hydraulics, compressed air or a hand crank.
  • Head pressure describes how powerful a pump is. Vertical discharge head pressure describes the vertical lift in height at which the pump can no longer exert enough pressure.
Types of Pumps
A submersible sump pump being placed in a basement drain.

Pumps do everything from removing water that collects around a home’s foundation to siphoning standing water off basement floors to draining aquariums and watering flower beds. There are four primary types: sump pumps, sewage pumps, utility pumps and well pumps.

  • Sump pumps remove water that collects in basins from around a home’s foundation. Many are submersible pumps that have a manual or semi-automatic motor housed in a water-tight compartment so the pump can be fully immersed in liquid.
  • Sewage pumps are designed to pump liquids and semi-solids in a basement or below-grade area from a sewage basin up to the main sewer line for removal. 
  • Transfer pumps and boosting pumps move water from one location to another through hoses. They can handle everything from light aquarium applications to heavy dewatering. 
  • Boosting pumps can add water pressure for car washing or lawn sprinkling. They can also increase pressure where low or inadequate water pressure is an issue.
Pump Designs and Features
Man installing a utility pump.

How a pump is designed determines the way in which it moves fluids. There are several convenient features to consider as well when choosing the best utility pump for the job.

  • Centrifugal pumps can be surface-mounted or submersible. They accelerate liquids with a revolving device called a rotor impeller, which pushes liquids out through a valve opening. 
  • A diaphragm pump is a type of positive displacement pump that expands and contracts a membrane in a regular rhythm to provide a steady, consistent flow. It is ideal for heavy-duty tasks.
  • A self-priming pump requires no manual supplying of fluid to the pumping chamber for easier and more convenient operation.
  • Adjustable-speed pumps increase efficiency by allowing you to customize the speed.
  • Battery backup provides emergency power in case of a power outage.
  • Alarms alert you when water leaks or other problems.
  • Pumps that are corrosion-resistant ensure the durability of pumps placed in or around water.
  • Magnetic pumps do not have seals, so they are less likely to leak. They use a magnetic coupling to power an impeller. 
Sump Pump Comparisons
pedestal or column pumps
submersible sump pumps
battery back-up sump systems
Description Pedestal pumps are positioned with the pump motor out of the water and above the sump basin. Submersible sump pumps are put underwater in your sump pump basin. Battery-backed sump systems keep working after power outages.
Well Pumps
Someone using a hand pump at a well.

A well pump provides water from under the ground to your home. There are several types:

Shallow well jet pumps sit above ground and draw water out through one inlet pipe.

  • For depths to water 25 feet deep or less
  • One-way check valve keeps pump primed

Deep well jet pumps sit above ground, draw water from one pipe and push water through another pipe.

  • For depths to water 25 feet to 110 feet deep
  • May include a tailpipe to ensure well is never pumped out
  • Requires a foot valve to prime the pump

Deep well submersible pumps have a single pipe that comes from inside of the well and connects to a home's pressure tank.

  • Operate in depths to water 25 feet to 400 feet deep
  • Must be pulled from well casing for repairs
Other Types of Pumps
Pool pump inside a wood outdoor shed.
  • Lawn sprinkler pumps are used to draw water from various sources to lawn sprinkler systems.
  • HVAC condensation pumps remove collected condensation from gas or electric furnaces or air conditioning units.
  • Pond and waterfall pumps power water flow and circulation for decorative water features.
  • Pool cover pumps are a type of submersible pump that removes water from your pool cover.
  • Swimming pool pumps circulate water through a swimming pool, filter debris and clean water to keep it clear of contaminants.
  • Hot water recirculating pumps provide hot water at every faucet or shower when you need it.

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