Sewage Pumps vs. Sump Pumps: What’s the Difference and Why It Matters

Are you unsure if your plumbing system needs a sewage pump or a sump pump installed? It’s not just you. While building or modernizing their plumbing systems, many homeowners and business owners encounter this conundrum. Despite their apparent similarity, these pumps have separate functions and unique features. What sewage pumps and sump pumps are, how they differ, and which one is best for your individual needs are all covered in this article.

Fundamentals of Sump Pumps

sump pumpA sump pump is a mechanical device that drains water from a basement or crawl space’s lowest point to stop flooding. It is frequently set up in a sump pit, a tiny depression cut into the earth to catch runoff from the area surrounding the foundation. The sump pump activates and pumps the water out of the pit and away from the building when the water level in the sump pit rises. In places with high water tables or a lot of rainfall, sump pumps are frequently employed.

Submersible and pedestal sump pumps are the two primary varieties. In contrast to pedestal sump pumps, which are mounted above the sump pit, submersible sump pumps are put inside the pit. Although more expensive, submersible sump pumps are quieter and more covert. Although less expensive, pedestal sump pumps are noisier and more noticeable.

Sump pumps have a number of advantages, such as avoiding water damage to your property, safeguarding your foundation, and maintaining a dry basement.

Fundamentals of Sewage Pumping

Cast Iron Sewage PumpA sewage pump is a device that removes solid and liquid refuse from a building’s plumbing system and pumps it into a sewer or septic system. Unlike sump pumps, sewage pumps are capable of handling solid refuse and other substances that could clog a sump pump. Typically installed in a building’s cellar or subterranean level, sewage pumps are essential for structures that are below the level of the municipal sewer or septic system.

There are two primary varieties of sewage pumps: pedestal and submersible. Unlike pedestal sewage pumps, submersible sewage pumps are situated below the water level.

Submersible sewage pumps are more prevalent, quieter, and more efficient than pedestal sewage pumps, but they are also more expensive. Pedestal sewage pumps are less expensive, but they require more space and are more conspicuous.

For maintaining adequate sanitation and preventing sewage backups, sewage pumps are essential. Buildings with basements or below-grade plumbing systems, such as residences, businesses, and industrial facilities, commonly employ them.

Differences between a Sump Pump and a Sewage Pump

Sump pumps and sewage pumps are two distinct types of pumps with several fundamental distinctions. These pumps’ core differences primarily pertain to their functionality, design, and construction, types of fluids handled, capacity and performance, and cost and maintenance.


The function of sump pumps is to extract clean water from a basement or crawl space to prevent water from flooding the building, whereas sewage pumps are designed to remove wastewater and solid waste from the plumbing system of a structure.

Design and Construction

In terms of design and construction, sump pumps are typically smaller and simpler than sewage pumps. In comparison, sewage pumps are more intricate and massive, featuring shredding blades that break down solids and anti-clogging mechanisms to prevent blockages.

Types of Fluids Handled

Sump pumps are tailored to handle clean water and may not be equipped to manage solids or other debris. Conversely, sewage pumps are engineered to handle wastewater and solid waste, such as human waste and toilet paper.

Capacity and Performance

Regarding capacity and performance, sewage pumps are more potent and have higher capacity levels than sump pumps. Sewage pumps can handle larger volumes of water and solid waste, while sump pumps are designed to handle smaller amounts of clean water.

Cost and Maintenance

Finally, sewage pumps are typically more expensive than sump pumps due to their larger size and intricate design. Additionally, sewage pumps necessitate more frequent maintenance to prevent blockages and keep them functioning properly.

Table: Summarizing the key differences between sewage pumps and sump pumps

Criteria Sump Pump Sewage Pump
Function Removes clean water from a basement or crawl space to prevent flooding. Removes wastewater and solid waste from a building’s plumbing system
Design and Construction Smaller and simpler in design than sewage pumps. Larger and more complex, with features like shredding blades and anti-clogging devices.
Types of fluids handled Designed to handle clean water and may not handle solids or debris Designed to handle wastewater and solid waste, including human waste and toilet paper.
Capacity and Performance lower capacity and power compared to sewage pumps Higher capacity and power, designed to handle larger volumes of water and solid waste.
Cost and Maintenance It has a lower cost and requires less maintenance than sewage pumps. Higher cost and requires more frequent maintenance to prevent blockages.
Suitable for Below-Grade Suitable for buildings with above-grade plumbing systems or that are connected to a sewer Necessary for buildings with below-grade plumbing systems or not connected to a sewer

Choosing Between a Sump Pump and a Sewage Pump

It is important to consider the building’s plumbing system, location, and purpose before deciding whether to install a sump pump or sewage pump. If you live in a region prone to flooding due to high water tables or frequent downpours, you should install a sump pump. They aren’t equipped to deal with trash, so they might not work in structures with subterranean plumbing.

To dispose of garbage and other pollutants, sewage pumps are required in buildings with below-grade plumbing systems, such as basements or crawl spaces. In addition, they are required for structures that sit below the water table and are served by the local sewage or septic system. Above-ground plumbing systems or connections to a municipal sewer or septic system eliminate the need for a sewage pump in a building.

How to Choose Between a Sewage Pump and a Sump Pump

When confronted with the decision to choose between a sewage pump and a sump pump, one must consider numerous factors, such as the location of the edifice, the plumbing system it possesses, and its intended application. It is of the utmost importance to consult with a plumbing professional to determine the most appropriate pump variant for your specific requirements.

Apart from the aforementioned factors, there are several other variables to ponder over while making this choice, including the pump’s efficacy, carrying capacity, and expense. When it comes to sewage pumps, they generally cost more than sump pumps, yet offer a more robust performance with a greater carrying capacity. On the other hand, sump pumps are less costly but may not be suitable for structures that possess subterranean plumbing systems.


To sum up, there are notable differences between sump pumps and sewage pumps. Sewage pumps are used to remove wastewater and solid waste from a building’s plumbing system, whereas sump pumps are used to drain clean water from a basement or crawl space to prevent flooding. It’s important to think about the building’s location, plumbing system, and intended purpose when deciding between a sewage pump and a sump pump. If you’re not sure what kind of pump would be ideal for your situation, a plumber can help you decide.

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