How to Choose the Best Switch for Your Sump Pump

If you live in a location that frequently experiences flooding or excessive rains, a sump pump is an essential piece of home maintenance equipment. The purpose of the pump is to drain water from a home’s crawl space or basement to stop structural flooding. On the other hand, the switch that is used to activate and deactivate a sump pump can make a significant difference in how well it functions. One can choose between a tethered switch or a vertical float switch. In this piece, we’ll examine the similarities and differences between these two switch options so you can pick the one that works best for you.

What is a float switch for a sump pump?

Let’s first describe a sump pump float switch and explain how it functions before delving into the distinctions between vertical and tethered float switches.

A device that regulates a sump pump’s functioning is a float switch. It is generally found in the sump pit, which is a basin or container used to store liquids such as groundwater. The pump is intended to turn on when the water level in the pit increases above a specific level and to shut off when the water level returns to that level.

Sump pump float switches come in two major varieties: vertical and tethered. We’ll go into more detail about each type’s distinct qualities and advantages below.

How Tethered Float Switches Operate vs. Vertical Float Switches

The manner in which a vertical float switch and a tethered float switch trigger the pump is their primary distinction. On a rod or pipe that protrudes vertically from the sump pit’s base, a vertical float switch is attached. The switch turns on the pump as the float at the end of the rod or pipe rises along with the water level in the pit.

A tethered float switch, on the other hand, is connected to the pump by a flexible cord or chain. The float bobs up and down with the water level while it is suspended in the liquid. The float engages the switch and starts the pump when the water level reaches a particular level.

Float Switch, Vertical

The most typical switch for a sump pump is a vertical float switch. This device is uncomplicated and can be set up in no time. A float, which is connected to the switch, floats up and down in response to changes in the sump pit’s water level. The sump pump will turn on when the water level reaches the float’s set point. The float resets to its original position as the water level drops, cutting power to the pump.

The convenience of the vertical float switch’s straightforward installation is a major benefit. It’s perfect for DIY switch installations in homes because it doesn’t call for any specialized tools or training. The switch is also more trustworthy than competing options. It may be set to different water levels and malfunctions less frequently, giving you peace of mind.

Yet, it’s important to remember that there are drawbacks as well. If there is trash or other things in the sump pit, they could potentially jam the vertical float switch. As an added downside, the switch can become inoperable if the float becomes trapped in either the “on” or “off” position.

Vertical Float Switches: Benefits and Disadvantages

Using a vertical float switch has a number of benefits. The switch is less likely to tangle with or get snagged on other items in the sump pit because it is positioned on a vertical rod or pipe. By doing this, it may be possible to avoid the switch becoming trapped in the “on” position and damaging the pump motor.

Moreover, compared to tethered float switches, vertical float switches are typically more sensitive. As a result, they can turn on the pump when the water level is lower, reducing the risk of flooding and water damage.

However, employing a vertical float switch has certain drawbacks as well. The switch can take up extra room in the sump pit because it is mounted on a rod or pipe, which can be an issue if you don’t have much room. Moreover, compared to tethered float switches, vertical float switches are often more expensive.

Tethered Switch

The tethered switch is a safer and more long-lasting option for your sump pump. A float, suspended on a rope or chain, rises and falls in response to changes in the sump pit’s water level. The sump pump is activated when the water level reaches the float’s setpoint. The float resets to its original position when the water level decreases, shutting the pump off.

The tethered switch’s longevity is a major benefit. The switch is more robust than the vertical float switch and less likely to become jammed when exposed to high water levels. Also, the switch is more durable, so your sump pump won’t stop working when you need it most.

The tethered switch has the disadvantage of being more complicated to set up than the vertical float switch. This makes DIY switch installation less appealing, as it necessitates technical expertise and specialized equipment. In addition, the switch is not as dependable as the vertical float switch and may malfunction at any time.

Tethered Float Switches: Benefits and Disadvantages

The fact that a tethered float switch requires less sump pit space than a vertical float switch is one of the key benefits of utilizing one. This can be especially useful if your sump pit is tiny or if the pit contains additional items that could hinder the operation of a vertical switch.

Moreover, compared to vertical float switches, tethered float switches are often less expensive. As a result, they might be a more affordable choice for people on a tight budget.

However, employing a tethered float switch has its drawbacks as well. The switch is more likely to tangle or get stuck on other items in the sump pit since it is suspended in water. This may result in the switch malfunctioning and the pump not turning on when it should.

Moreover, compared to vertical float switches, tethered float switches are often less sensitive. This implies that they might wait to turn on the pump until the water level in the pit has increased, which could lead to additional flooding and water damage.

Which Should You Select?

Which float switch should you use for your sump pump now that you are aware of the benefits and drawbacks of both vertical and tethered float switches?

The response to the query is based on your particular requirements and choices. A vertical float switch can be a preferable option if your sump pit is bigger or if space is not an issue. Vertical float switches are frequently more responsive and dependable, which can assist stop floods and water damage.

A tethered float switch would be a better choice, though, if your sump pit is small or if there isn’t much room. Tethered float switches can be a more sensible option for individuals on a budget because they are often less expensive and take up less space.

Considerations for Selecting a Float Switch

In addition to the switch type, there are a number of other things to take into account when selecting a float switch for your sump pump. They consist of:

  • Pump horsepower: Verify that the float switch you select is appropriate for your pump’s horsepower.
  • Voltage: Verify that the float switch can withstand the voltage that your pump can handle.
  • Material: Seek out float switches made of sturdy, corrosion-resistant materials like plastic or stainless steel.
  • Wiring: To prevent electrical problems, ensure that the float switch is securely and accurately wired.

A Float Switch Installation Guide

A float switch can be installed quite easily and quickly by following these steps:

  • The sump pump power should be turned off, and the pump should be unplugged from the outlet.
  • Disconnect the wiring and remove the old float switch (if applicable).
  • The new float switch should be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Install the new float switch’s wiring.
  • Reconnect the pump’s electrical cord and restart the electricity.
  • Check the float switch’s functionality by testing it.

Suggestions for upkeep and troubleshooting

Regular maintenance and troubleshooting are necessary to guarantee that your float switch continues to function correctly and dependably. Here are some suggestions to bear in mind:

  • Regularly check the float switch for signs of wear and tear, such as corrosion or cracks.
  • Periodically clean the float switch to get rid of any accumulation or dirt that can affect how it works.
  • To ensure that the pump is starting and stopping at the proper water levels, test the float switch frequently.
  • Check for wiring faults or a broken switch if the float switch fails to start the pump or if the pump runs continually.

Comparison of the Two Switches

There are a few things to think about while deciding between the two types of sump pump switches. Considerations include the depth of the sump pit, the quantity of water to be pumped, and the longevity of the system as a whole. If you’re a homeowner in need of a switch that can be set to different water levels and is simple to install, consider a vertical float switch. If you live in an area with high water pressure or frequent flooding, the tethered switch is the way to go.

Here’s a look at the differences between tethered and vertical float switches.

Characteristics Vertical Float Switch Tethered Switch
Installation Easy Difficult
Reliability Good Fair
Adjustability for different water levels Yes No
Prone to jamming Yes No
Prone to breaking or malfunctioning No Yes
Ability to handle larger volumes of water Limited Good
Ideal for homeowners who want an easy-to-install switch Yes No
Ideal for homeowners who want a durable switch No Yes


The efficiency of your sump pump will vary greatly depending on the type of switch you use. The tethered switch is sturdy and can manage greater amounts of water, while the vertical float switch is a simple and reliable choice that is straightforward to install. To create

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