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Ejector Pump vs Sump Pump: What’s the Difference?

Ejector Pump vs Sump Pump

Ejector Pump vs Sump Pump

If you have a basement or your home is built below ground level, you’ve likely heard of both an ejector pump and a sump pump. Despite the fact that these two pumps are frequently used in basements, they are not interchangeable and serve completely different functions.

In short, an ejector pump is designed to pump waste to sewer pipes, while sump pumps are designed to protect basements from flooding. Since these two pumps have different functions, using them interchangeably will result in a lot of issues for your home.

To find out more about the differences between these two pump types, read on. This article provides an extensive overview of both ejector pumps and sump pumps, as well as gives you recommendations for the best models of both.

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Overview of Ejector Pumps

Most homes rely on gravity to get rid of waste. In other words, the home is situated so that way it is higher than the sewer pipes. This allows waste to drain properly on its own due to gravity. However, not all homes are able to be designed above the sewer pipes.

Basements, for example, may be situated below the sewer pipes. As a result, any bathroom in the basement needs help expelling the waste since gravity can’t force it down. This is where an ejector pump comes into play.


The point of an ejector pump is to pump waste or black water out of your home. This is especially true if the waste is produced below the sewer pipes. As the name suggests, ejector pumps quite literally eject the waste out of your home and into the sewer pipes.

How It Works

For an ejector pump to work, it will be installed under the basement floor. The ejector basin will collect the wastewater and pump it to the sewer line. Since ejector pumps deal with solid waste, the basin will be sealed so that sewer gases don’t escape into your home.

The ejector pump is activated every time you flush your basement toilet or run your washing machine. The pump will also be designed to activate if a certain amount of waste accumulates in the basin or home. The pump will grind the waste so that it can easily flush into the sewage line.

What It Can Handle

One important distinction between ejector pumps and sump pumps is what they can handle. Ejector pumps are designed so that they can handle water and solid waste. This means that the pump is often way more powerful than a sump pump and comes with a grinder to breakdown the waste before ejection.

Why You Need an Ejector Pump

If your home or parts of your home are situated below your sewer pipes, you need an ejector pump. Without an ejector pump, the waste will get backed up, causing a health hazard to your home. These wastes can accumulate, spilling sewer gas and your waste, which no one wants.

For homes that are completely placed above the sewer lines, an ejector pump will not be necessary. Gravity and the normal sewage system will be able to work itself out without the help of an ejector pump.


  • Can handle water and solids alike
  • Often comes with a grinder
  • Moves waste to sewer line
  • Does not require regular maintenance or repairs
  • Expensive
  • More difficult to repair if needed

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Overview of Sump Pumps

Although basements are great for extra storage or hang out space, they can be a pain when it rains. That’s because their placement makes them more susceptible to water leakage and flooding. Obviously, flooding is a pain, but it is also costly and can lead to mildew or mold, which can trigger health issues. Basements, especially those in areas where it rains frequently, will benefit from a sump pump.


The point of a sump pump is to protect your basement from water damage and flooding. It comes in both a submersible and pedestal model. In either case, a sump pump can save you a lot of money in water and property damages, especially if you live near a large body of water or experience heavy storms frequently.

How It Works

No matter the type of sump pump you select, a sump basin will be installed under the floor of your basement. This basin will collect water which will then be expelled by the pump. The pump can either be submersible or a pedestal.

Submersible sump pumps will be placed inside the basin. This makes them more attractive, but they are more expensive and more prone to breakage too. Pedestal sump pumps, on the other hand, will be put on a pedestal above the basin and be connected to the basin.

As the basin fills, your sump pump will be activated once a certain amount of water is accumulated and triggers the float switch. The excess water will then be pumped through a discharge pipe. Since sump pumps only move ground or rain water, the water is often relocated to your lawn, a dry well, or the municipal sewer system so that it is out of your house.

Once the water level has decreased, the sump pump will stop on its own.

What It Can Handle

Sump pumps are only designed to handle groundwater and rainwater. They are not suitable for moving solids like your ejector pump. This makes them less powerful.

Why You Need A Sump Pump

You should get a sump pump if you have a basement. Even if you don’t live in an area with frequent rainstorms, basements always run the risk of flooding from groundwater or rain. The sump pump will simply protect your basement from flooding.

You should not get a sump pump if you don’t have a basement. Sump pumps will be virtually useless if all of your home is above ground.


  • Protects home from flooding
  • Multiple design options
  • Wide price range to choose from
  • Requires frequent maintenance
  • Not long-lasting

Which Pump Should I Get?

Ejector pumps and sump pumps have totally different functions. For this reason, it shouldn’t be that difficult to determine which pump you should get. After all, the only similarity between the two is that they are best for homes with basements.

Simply put, if you need to move sewage and black water from a basement, bathroom, or laundry room, you will need an ejector pump. The ejector pump will safely move the sewage so that it can exit your home without the use of gravity. Here are some examples of when to add an ejector pump to your home:

  • You use a lot of water (laundry, sinks, etc.)
  • You have a bathroom in the basement
  • You want extra protection for a home septic system

In contrast, you should get a sump pump if you have a basement that can flood. You will only use a sump pump for moving groundwater and rain water, never solids. Do not get a sump pump to move waste or sewage. Add a sump pump to your home if:

  • You live in a storm-heavy area
  • You live in an area with a high water table
  • You live at the bottom of a hill
  • Your home floods easily

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Ejector Pumps and Breakage

Like with any pump, ejector pumps can occasionally backup, causing minor flooding. Since ejector pumps come with grinders, they are less prone to breakage and backups than other pumps. Additionally, they will not need frequent maintenance for this reason.

Normally, ejector pumps will cause backups only if there is an issue within the ejector pump. A failure to activate, large amounts of solid waste, and power outages are common reasons why your ejector pump is not working properly.

Sump Pump Lifespans

Whereas ejector pumps are pretty low maintenance and reliable, sump pumps are not the same. Sump pumps almost always require regular maintenance, especially if you want to maximize the life span of a submersible sump pump. Here are some common problems with sump pumps:

  • Damaged float switch
  • Sump pump repeatedly turning on and off
  • Battery backup failure

Unfortunately, most of these problems are caused by no fault of your own. If you want to get a sump pump that is less likely to break, then you should get a pedestal sump pump. Since the pump is outside of the basin, it is less likely to break from water damage.

What About Price?

When it comes to sump pumps and ejector pumps, you should not simply go with the cheapest model you find. Since these pumps serve an integral function in your home, it is more important to get a pump that actually works. Though you will be able to find models on a budget, always opt for function over price when it comes to these pumps.

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Quick Look: Our Top Choices

Image Product Details
Our Favorite Ejector Pump Zoeller 276-0001 M267 Waste-Mate Sewage Pump Zoeller 276-0001 M267 Waste-Mate Sewage Pump
  • 1/2 HP
  • Safe and effective
  • Automatic
  • Our Favorite Sump Pump Superior Pump 91250 ¼ HP Thermoplastic Utility Pump Superior Pump 91250 ¼ HP Thermoplastic Utility Pump
  • Powerful
  • High capacity
  • Long-lasting
  • Our Favorite Ejector Pump: Zoeller 276-0001 M267 Waste-Mate Sewage Pump

    Zoeller 276-0001 M267 Waste-Mate Sewage Pump

    The Zoeller Ejector Pump is a 1/2 horsepower submersible sewage pump that will safely and effectively pump sewage out of your home. It includes an integral float switch, making the model automatic. It can also pass 2 inch spherical solids, ensuring that the pump can handle all regular sewage solids. The construction is cast iron so that it is highly durable and long lasting.

    Our Favorite Sump Pump: Superior Pump 91250 ¼ HP Thermoplastic Utility Pump

    Superior Pump 91250 Thermoplastic Utility Pump

    The Superior Pump sump pump is powerful enough to move up to 1800 gallons of water per hour. This makes it a high-capacity pumping machine, suitable for homes with heavy rainfall. It includes a removable suction screen and can handle small solids. Though you don’t want to put many solids within the sump pump, it does make it a bit safer. The Superior Pump is also built to last, making it longer lasting than other sump pumps.

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    Once again, ejector pumps and sump pumps should not be used interchangeably. Ejector pumps are designed to move sewer, whereas sump pumps filter out rainwater and groundwater. Despite both having “pump” in their name, these two tools couldn’t be any more different.

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