DIY Sump System

Updated November 21, 2016

By the simplest definition sump systems are generally designed to pump water out of a place where it shouldn't be and move it to somewhere where it doesn't cause problems. A sump system generally consists of four main parts: A water retaining depression to which excess water flows, a mechanised pump to remove it, a tube by which the water travels and a sump or drainage area in which it is finally dumped. A DIY sump system need not be very costly.

Locate the area of your home, property or garden where the water is highest when flooding occurs. Wait until there is a dry spell and there isn't any water present. In this spot you should dig out a hole that is about two feet deep and a two to three feet. If there is concrete on the floor, use a hammer drill or jack hammer to break it up in a circle of the same width.

Place a large, round plastic bucket whose sides have been perforated with small drain holes into your excavation and fill the area around it with 3/4 inch crush gravel. You can use a plant container in which you have made your own holes or buy a drainage container for sump pumps at a hardware store. If the hole you've dug is deeper than the bucket, back fill the bottom of the hole until the top of the bucket is at the level of the surrounding unexcavated surface.

Pour fresh concrete over the gravel and around the bucket to a level where it's flush with the lip of the bucket. You can buy bags of premixed concrete, sand and gravel to which you only need to add enough water to give the mix a cream cheese consistency. This is the simplest solution. Make sure the new concrete is flush with the rough edges of the old concrete. Once you've smoothed and levelled the concrete with a trowel, let it cure for a couple days. If your sump hole was installed in a lawn or garden, fill the area over the gravel around the hole with grass or soil, also until it's flush with the bucket's top.

Place an electrical sump or water pump into the bucket. These can be purchased at most hardware stores, and you should buy a pump that's powerful enough to handle the amount of water which collects in the area during floods. Most pumps have information on their package labels which explains how many gallons per minute they can handle. Any pump that is labelled as being able to handle basement flooding is almost certainly good enough for most home-based needs.

Connect a hose or adequate plastic piping to the pump's water removal opening. If you've bought a length of hose but it doesn't fit, you should also buy an adaptor of the right size which will connect to the water pump itself. Connect your hose or piping to this adaptor.

Check to see if you are able to connect the hose or pipe which runs from your sump pump to the municipal water system or storm drains. If not, then you'll have to either connect your hose to your home's own water outflow pipes or build your own water drainage area on your property. This is simply a large hole, approximately 4 feet wide by 5 feet deep, in which you place a number of boulders up to just under the level of the surrounding ground. Cover this stone filled area with the same material as the surrounding ground and bury the pipe which comes from your sump pump so that it drains into the boulders.

Run your pipe or hose, which connects to your sump pump, to the nearest available drainage area. If your sump pump is in the basement, then you'll have to drill a hole through the lowest possible wall that opens to the outside ground for the hose to fit through. If your sump pump is outdoors, then dig a trench in the ground from the pump to your drainage area, and run the hose through it. Bury the hose so that it isn't visible.


You may want to cut or buy a lid for the drainage hole in which your sump pump is located. Cut an opening for the pipe which runs from the pump to pass through. Buy a sump pump which can be submerged in water. There are floating types available, but they make a lot of noise as they pump,

Things You'll Need

  • Hose or flexible tubing
  • Electrical water pump
  • Large bucket with holes in it
  • Hammer drill
  • Pick axe
  • Crush gravel
  • Pre-mixed concrete
  • Drill
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About the Author

Stephan Sawyer is a writer and translator from Vancouver, Canada, currently living in Central America. He has been writing and translating for various clients since 2007, specializing in topics related to business, marketing and finance. Sawyer studied communications in university and is a fluent Spanish speaker.