How to Install a Generator for a Sump Pump

A sump pump is a pump usually found in a building or home basement that sends water away to a safer place like an outside drain or dry well. Connecting or installing a generator to a sump pump can be a fail-safe that can help prevent major water damage even when the home or building's power has gone out during a storm. In the case of a power outage, being able to install a back-up generator to a sump pump will ensure you have at least some source of power to keep your sump pump running.


  1. 1
    Place the generator in a safe and enclosed place like at garage or shed, but make sure the area has adequate ventilation. Most generators run on fuel such as gasoline or diesel, so it is very important that the machine be in a location that will allow the exhaust to dissipate. If you store a generator in an unprotected area, the generator may sustain damage from rain, ice, lightning strikes or falling objects.
  2. 2
    Measure the distance between the sump pump and the generator outside. Use this measurement to determine how long of an extension cord you will need when you install the generator to the sump pump. You may require multiple extension cords.
  3. 3
    Fill the generator with fuel until the tank is full.
  4. 4
    Start the generator, and while it is running, connect the extension cord to the sump pump plug briefly to make sure the sump pump is working properly. You will know the pump is working because you will hear the water being pumped away from the building and you will see the water begin to drain in the sump pump hole. Once you know the pump is working, make sure water continues to drain and is sent away from the building until the water is at a low level in the pump hole.


  • Once you bring the water in the basement back to a more manageable level, you no longer need to use the generator to power the sump pump as long as rain and ground water no longer continue to flow into the basement. Take this opportunity to use the generator to power other household appliances like the refrigerator, lamps or television. It is crucial that you monitor the use of the generator when installed to a sump pump because only using it when absolutely necessary will ultimately save you on fuel.
  • Be prepared by getting a fuel container that can hold up to 9 gallons (34.1 L) of fuel. An 8000 watt generator, for example, can hold around 7 gallons (26.5 L) of fuel and can run a sump pump continuously for up to 8 hours on a full tank.
  • Note that not every generator is the same size and not every generator runs on the same type of fuel. Some generators have enough power to run for hours, while other generators with less wattage only run for 20 to 30 minutes. While most generators are powered by gasoline, some run on diesel, propane or water power.

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Categories: Disaster Preparedness | Plumbing Drains Waste and Vents