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Will Salt Water Corrode Sump Pumps?

Will Gish

Sump pumps perform an important function in a number of operations. Any damage to a sump pump inhibits its performance and can quickly lead to numerous problems in a home, swimming pool and other environments where these pumps are used. The question of whether salt water corrodes sump pumps ultimately comes down to a single consideration -- the type of sump pump -- and revolves around the relationship between salt and the various materials used in sump pump construction.

Sump Pumps

Check your owner’s manual for information on using your sump pump with salt water.

A sump pump uses force created by suction to remove liquid from a sump. Technically, a sump constitutes any low-lying area that collects draining liquids. Around the home, sump pumps help remove excess rain or drain water and any liquids collecting in and around a basement or foundation. Sump pumps on boats help maintain water levels on the boat and also work with showers and sinks to maintain proper water flow in enclosed environments. Sump pumps ultimately constitute generic devices used in myriad applications.

Salt Water

Salt water is a highly corrosive liquid. The salt within the water quickly and easily destroys nearly all types of metal and alloy, or blends of two or more types of metal. Stainless steel resists salt-water corrosion though can succumb under constant exposure. Some types of plastics prove resistant to salt-water corrosion, though not all do. Any type of water with salt, from seawater to rain water mixed with salts used for melting ice, constitutes salt water.

Corrosion-Resistant Pumps

You can purchase a corrosion-resistant sump pump if you need one designed to work with salt water. Corrosion-resistant pumps hold up against many types of corrosion, including that induced by waste treatment solutions, acids, alkalides, chemicals and acid waste. If you know your pump will encounter corrosive materials, seek out and install a pump designed to handle such materials before the need arises. This minimizes the risk of destroying an ill-equipped pump and the risk of damage to structures surrounding the sump.

Salt Water, Pumps and Sumps

Never attempt to use a sump pump with salt water without first ensuring that the pump can handle the salt water without risking rapid deterioration. Some sump pump manufacturers, such as Sta-Rite, go so far as to void a product’s warranty if you use it with salt water. Salt water can damage the actual sump if it's not removed quickly. A damaged sump can leak large amounts of water and potentially dangerous liquids into the ground. Expedient removal is important to prevent damage to the sump. Contact a plumber or local water agency for assistance in such matters.