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Sump pumps operate only when the sump pit
has collected enough water to make it worthwhile
to turn on the pump for a few moments to
lower the water level (never all the way
to empty since centrifugal pumps stop functioning
when their intake ports start to suck air).
To switch the motor on and off, pedestal
models usually use a float ball, not unlike
the one inside a toilet tank, to push and
pull a switch located up near the motor.
Submersible units typically use either a
self-contained float ball or a separate float
switch at the end of a short length of electrical
cord. The corded float switch has a mercury
switch inside its floating nodule and the
power is switched either on or off depending
on the nodule’s angle of tilt. Since the
most common reason that sump systems malfunction
(apart from power failure) is that the switch
becomes snagged or otherwise inoperable,
you should consider the type of trigger switch
in light of the size of your sump pit, because
for corded float switches to work, the pit
has to be wide enough to allow the nodule
to move freely at the end of its cord.
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