why is there gravel in sump pit

The Surprising Role of Gravel in Your Sump Pit

Sump pits are used to capture debris that accumulates at the bottom of a sump pump pit. As the debris builds up, it will create an imbalance in the flow of water to the pump. This can cause the pump to work overtime trying to push the debris out of the pit. Eventually, the pump will fail. Gravel in sump pits can be very damaging to the pump and to other equipment in the sump pit.

The Value of a Basement Sump Pump

The importance of a sump pump in your basement cannot be overstated before we discuss the function of gravel in a sump pit. The basement is usually the lowest part of a house, making it the most susceptible to flooding and water damage. A sump pump removes water from the sump pit and channels it away from the house’s foundation, protecting the basement from flooding.

What Exactly is a Sump Pump Pit?

A sump pump pit is a trench or pit in your backyard that houses your sump pump. This area will be near the foundation and the main water supply if there is a basement. Typically, the pit is dug into the ground and connected to the main sump pump. Because sump pumps are not designed to handle water, any leaks from a basement or the sewer system should be drained out of the pit before connecting your sump pump to it.

How Can You Determine if Your Sump Pit Contains Gravel?

The most evident symptom is the gravel’s look. What if, however, the gravel is not visible? You need a mechanism to determine whether the sump pit contains gravel. The most typical method for testing gravel is with a sump-pit fork. To test the gravel, you must use a sump-pit fork or a comparable instrument because you must ensure that the fork’s tip is entering the pit. This permits viewing the bottom of the pit. If you examine a sump-pit pit and do not observe gravel, you can be quite assured that your sump pit does not contain gravel. Gravel is immediately discernible in pits, where a dark, muddy tint surrounds the pit’s rim.

Why is there gravel in the sump pit?

  1. The gravel was put in to prevent kids from falling into the water when it gets too low.
  2. The gravel is necessary to maintain good water flow and keep the sand from building up in the sump pit.
  3. There’s a hole in the bottom of the sump pit.
  4. The gravel is there to stop the sump from filling with mud, which could cause it to collapse.
  5. Gravel is often added to the bottom of the pit so that water can flow through it to the catch basin.

The Main Role of Gravel in the Sump Pit

Thus, why is gravel required in a sump pit? Filtering away trash and avoiding the sump pump clogging are the two main motives.

Filtering Out Debris

Water can carry material like dirt, sand, and leaves when it enters the sump pit. This debris can build up in the sump pit over time and possibly clog the sump pump, leading to failure or malfunction. In the sump pit, a layer of gravel acts as a filter, capturing particles and keeping them from getting to the sump pump.

Preventing the Sump Pump from Clogging

The gravel layer in the sump pit not only filters out debris but also aids in preventing the sump pump from clogging. The gravel surrounds the sump pump and makes a place for water to move freely, lowering the possibility of clogs and guaranteeing the sump pump’s functionality.

Type of Gravel Used in a Sump Pit

Now that we are aware of the significance of gravel in a sump pit, let’s examine the specific kind of gravel that is employed. The gravel’s size and shape can have a big impact on how well it filters out the trash and avoids jams.

Gravel size and shape

Sump pit Gravel sizesThe gravel used in a sump pit should ideally range in size from 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch. Gravel that is too large can obstruct the flow of water, while gravel that is too small can easily become clogged with debris. The gravel should also have an angled form to help generate greater space between the individual particles and promote freer water flow.

Gravel Composition

The gravel’s composition is also crucial. Choose clean, washed gravel that is free of pollutants and other impurities wherever possible. Pea gravel shouldn’t be used because of its rounded shape and ease of compacting, which reduces its efficacy as a filter.

Putting Gravel in the Sump Pit

While installing a new sump pump or replacing an existing one, it is essential that the gravel in the sump pit be properly installed. Here are the subsequent steps:

Preparing the Sump Pit for Gravel Installation: Prior to installing the gravel, the sump pit must be prepared. To prevent mishaps, turn off the electricity to the sump pump first. Using a bucket or a wet/dry vacuum, remove all debris and silt from the sump pit.

Spreading the Gravel in the Sump Pit: Once the sump pit has been thoroughly cleaned, it is time to distribute the gravel. Pour a layer of gravel approximately 2 to 3 inches thick into the bottom of the sump pit. Distribute the gravel evenly, ensuring that the entire bottom of the pit is covered. Finally, add another layer of gravel approximately 1-2 inches thick to the pit’s perimeter. Again, uniformly distribute the gravel while ensuring that it is not overly compacted.

Maintenance of the sump pit

Once the gravel has been installed in the sump pit, proper maintenance is required to guarantee that it continues to perform successfully. Here are some maintenance ideas for your sump pit:

Remove Debris from the Sump Pit: Inspect the sump pit on a regular basis for debris such as leaves, dirt, and silt. Use a bucket or a wet or dry vacuum to remove any collected debris from the pit. This will aid in preventing obstructions and guarantee that the sump pump is operating effectively.

Replacing the Gravel in the Sump Pit: Gradually, the gravel in the sump pit can get compacted or clogged with debris, diminishing its efficacy. If you observe that the water in the sump pit is not flowing freely, it may be time to replace the gravel. Follow the instructions mentioned above for placing gravel in the sump pit to do.


If your sump pit is not thoroughly cleaned out after each rain or winter, gravel and other debris may collect there. This debris may then jam the sump pump, causing it to operate nonstop while still allowing water to enter the tank. So, to prevent this from happening, you need to constantly wipe away the debris from your sump pit.

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