Why You Should Cover Your Sump Pump (+ 5 Great Ideas)

Many homeowners cover their sump pump for a variety of important reasons. Sump pumps are an eyesore in finished basements and take away from a homey and comfortable space. Covers also protect homeowners from undesirable odors, excessive moisture, or the threat of radon gas or mold. They also keep children and pets from exploring this open water-filled space.

Covering a sump pump is a task you can do on your own. You can buy one that’s the perfect fit for your model, cover it with flooring or a rug, or build a step or closet around it. Alternatively, you can easily disguise it with tall plants or a large chair. 

Reasons Why You Need A Sump Pump Covered

The City Has Building Codes

Plumbing and building codes can vary from state to state, which includes whether or not there needs to be a sump pump cover. This can include whether or not the cover should be gas-tight. 

In most cases, the cover needs to be removable so that the sump pump can be accessed for any repairs or replacement.

The International Residential Code states regulations that require sump pumps to be installed at certain depths and set up so that water drains through the pump via gravity. It must also have accessible discharge piping.  

For local regulations, it is best to contact your local water authority or your state’s Building Standards and Codes Department for residential codes.

Generally, these regulations are in place to prevent fall or drowning hazards, perform any maintenance or repair, and keep out radon.

A Cover Helps Prevent Radon Gas

Radon is an odorless and colorless gas that can enter any home through floor cracks, holes, drains, and sump pumps. Radon forms naturally when radioactive elements break down in rocks, groundwater, and soil.

Radon is often highest in the basement, and radon testing can be done to determine the level of it over both short- and long-term periods. Radon levels can fluctuate, with seasons and weather, so long-term tests generally give more accurate information. Radon exposure can increase the chance of non-smoking-related lung cancer.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that radon mitigation takes place at 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Often, part of the mitigation process involves sealing off the sump pump.

A Cover Will Keep Out Stray Objects

An open sump pump creates a spot where dirt, debris, toys, and more can easily fall in. Anything that falls into the sump pump can affect the ability of your sump pump to work properly. If drainage becomes blocked, you’ll end up with flooding.

Pets and small children may be tempted to investigate this area as well. A cover not only keeps out small items but also keeps pets and children safe.

It Will Keep Out Smells And Humidity

Water that goes into the sump pump comes from the earth and brings along an earthly or musty smell with it. 

Having a cover can help keep these smells and a significant amount of humidity from building up in your basement space.

Cover It For Aesthetics

If you have a finished basement, the sump pump, in particular, can look like an eyesore. 

You’ll see a thick electrical cord and plumbing that pokes out of the floor. The cover may look unnatural against the flooring materials. 

The sound of the pump can be loud and frequent depending upon the amount of water flowing. 

A sump pump creates unusable floor space that is unpleasant to hear or look at.

How To Cover A Sump Pump

The Cover Comes With Installation

Newly installed sump pump kits often come with covers. These covers have openings that accommodate the electrical cord and plumbing. 

The opening may, or may not, have rubber lining along the edges and holes to help create a tighter seal.

Sump pump kits

Typically these covers are circular and made of durable plastic, heavy-duty foam, or other rigid material.

Purchase A Solid Cover

Standard removable covers can be purchased for current sump pumps, and are much like the ones that come with installation kits. 

A solid cover typically has a generic size for openings that will accommodate multiple models of sump pumps.

Prices and styles can vary dramatically depending on what you are looking for.

The following table gives some examples of where you can purchase covers and an approximate cost:

Home DepotEverbilt Radon Mitigation Basin CoverVents radon gas and odorsFits an 18 to 24-inch openingClear view removable inspection plate5 side locations for inlets, discharge, or ventsBuilt-in floor drain plugHeavy-duty foam injection molded constructionSupports up to 1,000 poundsEasy to install  $129
Lowe’sJackel Structural Foam Sump Basin CoverWorks with pedestal or submersible sump pumps with 18 x 22-inch basinHeavy-duty foam injection molded constructionSlotted design versatility for plumbing, cords and different models$11
AmazonLittle Giant Sump Basin Cover Made of black polyethylene20 ½ inch diameter2 vent holes (2-inch)$46

Build One Out Of Plywood

If you cannot find a sump pump cover to fit your needs, you can build one out of plywood. To help keep out odors and gasses this plywood cover can be sealed with rubber-foam gaskets and strips. Any penetrations through the wood can also be sealed with rubber.

This type of cover should only be used with sump pumps that are equipped with pipes that are below the floor that drain into the pump’s well.

Sump Pump Plywood Cover

To make one of these, measure the diameter needed for the cover and use a jigsaw to cut out the shape. 

To make holes for the drainage pipe and electrical cord, use a hole saw. Hole saws come with attachments to cut circles with diameters from ¾ inches to 7 inches. 

Make sure that all holes and the outer diameter can accommodate the width of any rubber you use to line it. 

If you are not concerned with using rubber seals, you can also simply use a square piece of plywood that sits on top, with holes for the cord and pipe.

What Not To Use To Cover The Sump Pump

Plexiglass That Is Sealed To Pump

A contractor may seal a sump pump with plexiglass right to the concrete floor. While this seals out radon, earthy smells, and humidity, it prohibits access to the sump pump. 

Eventually, the pump will wear out and need repair or replacement. It also prevents regular maintenance to make sure the equipment is working. 

The plexiglass will have to be broken to access the sump pump,. If regular maintenance has not taken place, you could end up with costly damage or repair that could have been avoided.


Drywall is not a good material to use to cover a sump pump. This is because it is an organic material that can absorb and hold onto moisture. 

As a result, mold will grow, the drywall can crumble into the well, and you’ll end up with issues that need costly remediation.

5 Great Ideas To Cover A Sump Pump

There are several great options for covering a sump pump using DIY methods. While you can hide a discharge pipe, keep in mind that you should never block it, or else you will end up with a flood. 

Ideally, you want to create a cover or disguise that allows you to still access the sump pump and all of its parts for maintenance, repair, and replacement as needed.

1. Use Plants

If you want to do a quick, yet aesthetically pleasing method, place tall plants to surround the sump pump. The pots and broad leaves can help camouflage the cover and any protrusions. 

Plants on Sump Sump

Artificial plants may be a better option if you don’t have any natural light sources for the plants in your basement. Artificial plants also will not drop any leaves or spill soil into the well.

2. Cover It With A Rug Or Flooring

Another popular option is to cover the sump pump with a rug or flooring. You will need to cut holes to make accommodations for the electrical cord and discharge pipe.

Keep in mind that the area where the pump is may not be a flat surface. An option could involve building a raised step or flooring above the pump.

If using a rug, install a sump pump cover to provide enough support if someone were to step on it. Remember that you still need to be able to access the pump for maintenance.

Ideally, the sump pump cover should be completely sealed to prevent moisture from building up on the underside of the flooring or a rug. Otherwise, you will end up with rotting wood, peeling tiles, or mold.

This video demonstrates how to build a raised floor step over a sump pump:

3. Place A Curtain Around It

If you just cannot stand to look at the sump pump, a quick fix could be a hanging curtain. Use two cross-supports to hang a curtain from the floor to the ceiling. 

Leave enough space so that the curtain does not fall into the well and absorbs water and does not block any pipes or moving parts.

The curtain should hang an inch or two from the floor as well to ensure that there is air circulation to evaporate any moisture.

4. Build A Cabinet Around It

A more labor-intensive, but functional and practical option is to build a closet around your sump pump. You can include shelving for storage as well. Make sure any shelving is clear of the discharge pipe.

A benefit of a closet is that you can leave open space at the top for air circulation, and the walls of the closet will muffle any pump sounds.

A closet door gives you easy access to the inside while keeping children and pets out.

5. Hide It With A Chair

Much like large plants, a large chair could be placed in front of or over a sump pump. This option is best reserved for disguising sump pump covers that are sealed tight to keep moisture out. Otherwise, the direct humidity could damage your chair. 

Keep in mind that if someone moves the chair and bumps the electrical cord or discharge pipe, you could cause malfunction or damage. Make sure that any weight from the chair can be supported by the cover, and that it can be easily moved aside to access the pump.

Leave a Comment