With lovely spring weather comes the rain – and with the rain comes the possibility of a flooded basement.

It can be quite disheartening to have your basement flood with water after a storm. Water damage can be a costly repair. Having a sump pump in your basement can help you combat the floods. Before you rush out and purchase the first sump pump you can find, you need to understand the sump pump basics.

A sump pump sits in an area known as a sump pit. This area is usually about two feet deep and eighteen inches wide. When the sump pit fills with water, the sump pump will activate and pump the water out of your basement and away from your foundation. Most sump pumps have an automatic activation feature to ensure that they turn on automatically. Automatic sump pumps are more popular because the homeowner does not have to worry about turning the pump on each time it rains – the pump does everything on its own.

There are two main sump pump designs – submersible and pedestal.

A submersible sump pump has waterproof housing and sits in the water. The water is sucked through a grate on the bottom of the sump pump.

A pedestal sump pump sits out of the water. A pipe leads down into the sump pit from the pedestal pump. These types of sump pumps are usually less expensive than submersible pumps, but they are also nosier.

When choosing a sump pump for your basement, keep the following features in mind:

Manual or automatic – manual pumps may be cheaper, but automatic pumps offer more convenience

Horsepower – the amount of horsepower you need depends on the level of flooding you experience in your basement

Head pressure – this term refers to how high the sump pump can carry water. Make sure you choose a pump that is capable of lifting the water up and out of your basement.

Length of cord – avoid plugging a sump pump into an extension cord

Alarms and backups – select a sump pump that has an alarm and/or backup system that will alert you of failure