Pros And Cons Of The Different Types Of Sump Pump Switches

16 November 2015
 Categories: , Blog

A sump pump is a vital tool in homes with basements or basement areas that would experience flooding during snow melts or heavy rain. The pump installed in the lowest part of the basement pushes any incoming water back out of the home. Sump pumps can protect basements from water damage and dangerous mold buildups.

Choosing the right sump pump depends on a variety of factors, but one of the key decisions is the type of switch, which acts as a float to tell the pump when it needs to run. Each type has its own pros and cons and if you remain unsure of the best choice for your home, consult your local plumber for more tailored advice.


A vertical switch on a sump pump operates similarly to the float assembly on your toilet. There is a switch backed with an arm that has a float on its other end. When the water gets high enough to move that float, the pump switches on and gets rid of the water. The pump switches off when the water level drops the float back down to its lowest setting.

Benefits of vertical switches include affordability and ease of both installation and replacing parts later on. The switch does have its limits, however, and this type of pump is really only good for a smaller flood area as water that is too deep can quickly overwhelm the float and stop the pump.


Pedestal sump pumps are taller units that are better for deep flooded areas than the shorter, wider models. Pedestal pumps usually have a tethered switch, which is essentially a vertical switch setup that dangles down from the pump rather than affixing directly to the pump's side like the vertical unit.

Tethered switches are similarly easy to install and repair. The height of the pump itself means you don't need to worry about electrocution if wiring becomes exposed as the pump is well above water.

But the height also means that the dangling float might not always activate fully or properly.  The force of the water rising can also cause the float to become tangled around the pump or itself.


Diaphragm switches don't use a float as a trigger. Instead, the pressure of the water rising directly triggers the switch to turn the pump on. When the water level falls below the switch, the pump turns off.

The switch on the pump is set low on the unit by necessity and you can't readjust the height of the switch after you buy the unit. Ask your plumber about the proper switch height for your basement drainage needs so you don't have to make a return trip to the store later. Diaphragm switches are best for smaller drainage areas.

For more information, visit websites like