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Sump Pump Discharge Ideas

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

When it comes to keeping our home safe from flooding and water damage, it can really pay to install a sump pump for peace of mind.

Installing a sump pump into your home is a super useful way of removing unwanted water from your basement and other below-ground spaces.

However, sump basins fill up quickly and need to be discharged just as quickly.

This means you will need to account for potentially large amounts of water being discharged behind your home. 

This not-so-fun fact is why thinking about where the sump pump discharge will go is a critical first step when planning for a sump pump.

Each idea will suit different homes and designs so get ready to find your preferred discharge method and start protecting your home from water damage today. 

What Is A Sump Pump?

As previously hinted at, a sump pump is purposed with removing unwanted water from a home basement.

It’s no secret that many home basements are prone to water events. Water can either enter through overflowing drainage systems or seep up from the ground itself.

Either way, you will want a sump pump there to save your basement and skin. 

What Is A Sump Basin?

Also known as the sump discharge pit, the sump basin is the place where water runs to and collects.

In the case of a basement, a sump basin is placed into a hole that is cut directly into the concrete floor.  

The sump basin’s job is to collect water that would otherwise dissipate across the basement floor in preparation for the sump pump to suck it up and out of the basement. 

How Does A Sump Pump Activate?

If you were wondering whether you might have to turn your sump pump on then worry no more because sump pumps are self-activating.

Once a sump pump detects a change in water level pressure, it will automatically activate and start pumping water from the sump basin to wherever its pipe leads.

This is particularly handy in an untimely flooding event while you are away for the weekend and can’t get back to switch the sump pump on.

Nobody wants to return from a holiday to find their basement and its contents completely drenched in water, and automatic activation puts an end to this.  

What Are Some Sump Pump Discharge Ideas?

When considering whether a sump pump is right for your home, knowing where its discharge is destined is super important.

There is little point in fitting a sump pump into your basement only to have the water pump up, out, and then drain right back down again.

For this reason, you will want to make sure that the discharge is adequately factored for.

Another big no-no is pumping it into your backyard only for it to drain over to your neighbor’s property and start a feud over discharge (it does happen).

Luckily, we have listed the best ways of removing discharge from your basement.

Methods that won’t spell the end of your neighborly relationship while also keeping your home and garden discharge free. 

1. French Drain

French drains work in connection with sump pumps to pump water out of your basement and feed it into your garden.

Through a discharge line that connects to the sump pump, a french drain can inconspicuously disperse water without you noticing a thing.

French drains are essentially dug-out trenches that lead from the back of your house and out across your yard.

Once the perforated piping has been laid, the french drain is then filled up with gravel and rock to aid in the dispersion of water.

This type of drainage system is especially popular because it eliminates the chance of any discharge running back towards and into your home.

2. Scatter Drainage

In extreme weather events when the heavens open and show no signs of closing, it can certainly pay to put preventive drainage measures in place.

If you don’t put such measures in place and a downpour is so heavy that your sump pump and basin can’t keep up, your basement will be in grave danger of flooding. 

Creating a scatter drainage system across your garden is a great way of fitting a line of defense against particularly heavy downpours overwhelming your sump pump system.

One easy and natural solution is to plant an array of plants around the garden.

Plants absorb water through their roots in order to survive and this can bode extremely well for minimizing flooding events. 

Plants like ferns, daylilies, Monkey Flower, Elephant Ear, and Cattails are all especially thirsty species.

Planting a bunch of these certified water-absorbers is a great idea for gettting your garden “flood ready”.

Another bonus of garden plants is that the soil they are planted in will also slow down water flow.

If you mix some rocks and stones through the soil then you will have a seriously sophisticated drainage system that is 100% natural.

Of course, the bigger your garden plants grow the better their water absorption will be. So, this long-game drainage idea will only reap better potential as time goes on. 

3. Dry Well

Another drainage idea that will fight the good fight against sump pump discharge is a dry well.

In a similar fashion to a french drain, a dry well will allow water to be fed from your sump pump and into your garden.

However, unlike a french drain that uses a whole piping system, a dry well ends with a big barrel that is purposed for storing discharge. 

If you’re thinking about digging a dry well in your garden make sure the barrel is a good 12 feet from your home.

At this distance, it would be very unlikely for the discharge to run from the dry well back toward your home. You will also need to make sure that the dry well slopes down.

This is so that in heavy downpours there is no chance of it filling up and the discharge being fed back into your sump pump and down into your basement. 

As you may have guessed by now, a dry well does require a good deal of digging and labor when compared to a french drain.

For this reason, most homeowners will opt for french draining over a dry well.

However, if fitted correctly, they can be very good at removing discharge and letting it slowly seep into the garden. 

4. Basement Waterproofing

Basement waterproofing is a super effective method of mitigating flooding. Sump pumps are beneficial because they remove water from a basement, but do you know what’s even better?

Ensuring your basement can’t take on water in the first place. 

Basement waterproofing is done by professionals who use techniques and materials that prevent water from seeping through the walls and floor of a basement.

Often basement waterproofing involves the implementation of a sump pump as well as a high-grade drainage system and heavy-duty sealants.

Yes, it may be one of the more costly ideas on this list, but knowing that your basement has been professionally waterproofed will give you peace of mind in the wildest of storms.

5. Rain Barrels

Rain barrels are essentially large plastic barrels purposed with capturing rainwater.

Whether that be roof runoff collected from downspouts or water discharged from sump pumps, rain barrels are a non-commital means of storing excessive amounts of water.

Not only do they work well at mitigating discharge, but rain barrels are also considered a frugal option.

Instead of watering your lawn and plants with the city’s water supply, you can keep your garden thriving with water that is collected and stored in rain barrels.

Something in the vicinity of a 50-gallon barrel generally works best.

If you fit a garden hose compatible valve to the bottom of each rain barrel you will be able to hook up your lawn sprinkler system for maximum water savings. 

A hot tip if rain barrels have caught your attention is to make sure you buy barrels with holes at the top that measure the same size as your discharge pipe.

Of course, you could always cut holes out yourself. But, to get the tightest fit, it’s recommended to buy barrels that are ready to go.

Another point is to elevate the barrel a good 12 inches above the ground with a sturdy platform.

This will give you easy access to the valve spout and make your life a whole lot easier in the process.

6. Dry Creek Bed

Imagine your very own dry creek bed running through the garden.

Not only will a dry creek bed  become a tranquil feature piece of the garden, but it will also do a mighty fine job of draining water from the sump pump.

The creek bed’s rocks will allow water to trickle along their path and then naturally disperse into your garden.

A dry creek bed is environmentally friendly and suitable for all seasons and weather events.

So, if you’re looking for a natural means of creating water flow from your sump pump, consider a dry creek bed over a succession of pipes and wells. 

7. Air Gap

Placed on the outer wall of a house at the point where a sump pump’s discharge line lies, air gaps connect to the external line.

Air gaps are beneficial because they offer an outlet for the footing drain flow.

This is especially useful when there is an issue that requires immediate attention on the external discharge.

There are many different types of air gaps used in footing drainage so best to talk to a professional plumber or sump pump technician and see which air gap is the best fit for your home.

8. Concrete

If your sump pump discharge pipes are exposed and you happen to live in an area where freezing temperatures aren’t just a possibility, they’re a given, then listen in.

If the sump pump discharge freezes inside its piping overnight then the pipes will most likely swell and subsequently split.

In turn, this could cause a serious flooding event as the discharge won’t be able to go anywhere and your basement will certainly know about it. 

One way to combat the big feeze is to build a concrete freeze guard around the pipework to minimize its contact with sub-zero air temperatures.

A guard of this nature is a trick of the industry that prevents worst-case scenarios, and when your home is at stake, you can never be too prepared. 

9. Catch Basin

Catch basins are tasked with the all-important job of collecting and dispersing sump pump discharge.

They are essentially a big and empty concrete block that is dug into your back garden. A catch basin’s top-side grate does a great job at collecting sump pump discharge.

Through a large drainage pipe that connects to the larger local sewage plant system, a catch basin will remove the collected discharge, underground, without a worry about it.

One thing to remember with a catch basin is that the drainage pipe needs to slope away from the basin to ensure a good flow away from the basin.

This means digging the catch basin just below the surface of your garden is recommended to ensure it can’t fill back up and overflow with discharge. 

10. Submersible Pump

Submersible pumps feature hermetically sealed motors and are generally fitted close to a sump pump.

Its entire assembly is submerged in fluid for pumping purposes. Installing a submersible pump alongside your sump pump is beneficial because it helps to prevent cavitation of the sump pump. 

Pump cavitation is a serious issue that is caused by a stark elevation difference between the surface of the water and the pump.

A submersible pump will apply atmospheric pressure that creates pressurized fluid on the surface.

This, in turn, will help drive the hydraulic motor down the hole and ensure the sump pump remains working in large flooding events. 

Sump Pump Discharge Ideas (1)

How To Hide Your Sump Pump Discharge Pipe

Nobody wants their sump pump discharge pipe in plain sight.

So, now that you are well versed in the functionality of removing sump pump discharge, it’s time to think about its aesthetic. 

Although they are incredibly useful, there’s no point in hiding or denying the fact that sump pumps are a bit of an eye-sore.

That’s why these ideas on how to discreetly hide your sump pump are so worthwhile.

They will go a long way in making sure your sump pump and its discharge pipe don’t ruin your basement and garden’s visual appeal.

1. Basement Objects

Sometimes the simplest fixes are the best and hiding your sump pump and its pipework behind the basement sofa is minimal output for maximum camouflage.

If your basement doesn’t have a bona fide chill area, then any kind of shelving unit will do. Just something that is both big and bulky to keep your sump pump out of sight and mind. 

2. Sump Pump Cover

A sump pump discharge pipe cover is a necessity in our books. Not only do they tuck your sump pump’s pipework out of the way to offer a clean aesthetic, but they also do a great job at protecting it.

Covering the pump and its pipes with a plastic or metal cover will ensure the system’s longevity for many years to come.

If you consider yourself a handy DIYer, then you may even be able to fabricate a cover to the exact spec that is needed and save yourself some money along the way. 

3. Plants

Moving to the outside of the house now, and again, we want to make your life easier, not harder.

A few potted plants dotted about your sump pump discharge pipe can be the difference between a sleek feature piece of the garden and a garish pipe.

The trick with plants purposed with disguising your sump pump discharge pipe is that they must be potted.

If you plant them in the ground then, over time, their roots will do unspeakable damage to the pipes.

This will mean expensive repair bills on top of the fact that the sump pump won’t be able to work properly (and nobody wants that). 


As you can see, there are many ways to both disperse discharge and hide its piping.

Whether you are interested in the long game or want a quick fix we hope this article has been useful for you.

A flooded basement is certainly something you want to avoid, but a flooding garden as a result of inadequate sump pump discharge isn’t very desirable either.

Luckily, every discharge idea in this article has been tried and tested, having already helped thousands of families properly remove their sump pump discharge. Hopefully, they can help you too. 

author avatar
Anthony Barnes
Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age


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Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases. When it comes to dealing with clogged drains, many homeowners turn