Ground & Surface Water Pump Systems

November 30, 2023

: Understanding, Maintenance, and Best Practices

Both groundwater and surface water start off as rain falling from the sky – What’s the difference? Surface water is rain that falls onto hard surfaces like patios or in the case of basements, rainwater falling into lightwells and there are some standardised calculations to quantify the actual amount. Groundwater is rainwater that falls on to permeable surface i.e. soft ground, that then peculates and acts on the external structure of a subterranean building i.e. a basement and will travel through the basement structure and is diverted to drainage or a pump station via a cavity membrane system.

Unveiling How Ground and Surface Water Pump Systems Work

A ground or surface water pump station is installed below the structural slab at the lowest point of the basement so water can gravitate towards it. The pump station is designed to store the water and when it reaches a certain point, the pump is activated to discharge the water to mains drainage. Ground and surface water pump stations and generally fitted with two pumps, the second pump as a backup in case the first pump fails. Between the two pump operating levels a high-level alarm activation switch known as a float switch is fitted so it will activate when pump one fails and will produce an audible alarm which may be connected to a building management system to relay the alarm

The Do’s and Don’ts of Ground and Surface Water Pump Systems


  • Regularly inspect the pump station for debris or obstructions, typically once to twice per year in accordance with BS12056 & BS8102
    • Service your pump system periodically, especially before seasons of heavy rainfall or snowmelt.


  • Allow the collection sump to accumulate debris.
    • Neglect regular maintenance checks.

Why Ground and Surface Water Pumps Fail

These pumps, while robust, are not immune to issues. Common reasons for malfunction include:

  • Debris Accumulation: Be aware of gulley’s in lightwells that are discharging to a pump station to become blocked as they will prevent surface water from reaching the pump station.
  • Wear and Tear: Mechanical parts can deteriorate over time, especially with constant exposure to water and sediment, therefore regular servicing is imperative.

The Importance of Regular Servicing

To ensure your pump operates efficiently, regular check-ups are essential. Servicing your ground and surface water pump system every 6 months can:

  • Keep the system free of obstructions and debris.
  • Ensure the pump and its components are in good working condition.
  • Spot potential issues early, saving time and repair costs in the long run.

What is BS 8102?
BS 8102 is a British Standard that provides guidance on the protection of structures against water from the ground. It primarily focuses on waterproofing structures below ground level. While BS 8102 primarily deals with waterproofing, it does not specifically address groundwater pump stations.

However, a groundwater pump station, in a broader context, is a facility designed to manage and control the groundwater level around a structure. It may be employed in situations where the water table is high, and there is a risk of water ingress into basements or below-ground structures.

Here are key components that may be considered when implementing a groundwater pump station in accordance with general best practices for groundwater control:

Assessment of Groundwater Conditions:

Identify the groundwater conditions in the area, including the water table level and potential fluctuations.

Design and Sizing:

Design the pump station based on the specific requirements of the site and the expected volume of groundwater.

Size pumps and associated equipment to handle the maximum anticipated flow rates.


Ensure proper installation of pumps and associated equipment in accordance with industry standards and manufacturer guidelines.

Monitoring and Control:

Implement a monitoring and control system to manage the operation of the pump station based on groundwater levels.

Include alarms and automatic shut-off mechanisms for abnormal conditions.

Backup Systems:

Consider the installation of backup systems to ensure continued operation in case of pump failure or power outage.

Regular Maintenance:

Establish a regular maintenance schedule to inspect and maintain the pump station equipment.


Keep thorough documentation of the design, installation, and maintenance activities for future reference.

Compliance with Local Regulations:

Ensure that the design and operation of the groundwater pump station comply with local regulations and standards related to groundwater control and environmental considerations.

While BS 8102 specifically deals with waterproofing rather than the design and operation of pump stations, it is essential to integrate the principles of waterproofing into the overall design and construction of structures to prevent water ingress from the ground, which may include the use of groundwater pump stations where necessary. Always consult with relevant local authorities and engineering professionals to ensure compliance with applicable regulations and standards

The Future: Remote Monitoring Technologies
In today’s digital age, remote monitoring isn’t just for fire alarms, CCTV etc. With innovative solutions, property owners can now keep tabs on their ground and surface water pump systems in real-time. Such technology provides instant notifications on system status, pump health, and other crucial metrics, offering peace of mind and a proactive approach to maintenance. PPS do this with their Sidewinder Tech, it makes sure that homeowners have peace of mind knowing that they can detect problems as soon as they happen or even prevent problems from occurring by running diagnostic tests. With this system pumps are checked every 15 minutes and the data is checked by clever software, all good data is saved, if there are any issues they are highlighted by the software and send an alert to a human who will analyse the data and decide on the next step.

Ground and surface water pump systems are invaluable for property owners to keep water away from the home owners prized possessions, ensuring safety and preventing potential water damage. By understanding their function, sticking to best practices, and embracing modern monitoring solutions, these systems can serve us effectively and efficiently for years to come. Speak to PPS today to find out what type of system is right for your project.

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