Sump pump connection

macgyvers2000January 11, 2010

My latest project in the basement remodel was changing the pedestal sump pump to a below-ground type. The pump is now entirely below ground with a heavy-duty aluminum grate covering the pit. A trench several inches long was cut out of the slab to allow the PVC drain pipe to slip under the stud wall sill plate (it runs right against the pit). The cord for the pump runs in that same trench to get it behind the stud wall, so no wiring can be seen once the grate is on and the sheetrock is up.

The access panel for the wiring is going to be directly above this trench. I was initially going to cut the plug off an wire it directly to its own GFCI circuit, but I was "informed" that NEC requirements say sump pumps are not allowed to have a direct connection to a line, i.e., they must use a plug.

So, two questions:

1) Is this an actual NEC requirement that I simply cannot find (a section/paragraph # would help me find it in my little red book)?

2) If so, would it be legal to use a double-gang box, turn a socket sideways within the box, plug the pump in without modification of the plug/cable, and cover the whole shebang with a blank plate?

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Ron Natalie

There's nothing that says sump pumps can't be hard wired, though unless the panel is nearby, you may need to provide a disconnect nearby. Also unless the pump manufacturer for some reason calls out that they want a GFCI protected circuit, you don't need (nor particularly want) one. However, if this is an unfinished basement, you're stuck doing that.

HOWEVER there's a lot of things wrong with what you describe.

You can't run cords through the structure (inside walls etc..). You also can't just lop plugs off cords and hardwire them. If the pump isn't designed to be hard wired, (i.e., it has the cord permanently installed) then you'll have to locate a receptacle nearby. You can't do what you are talking about (burying the receptacle sideways in the box with the plug) but you can properly mount one in a box and hide the whole thing as long as it remains accessible.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 1:31PM
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Thinking it over, I just realized hiding the power cord behind the wall is likely considered under the same rule as not using extension cords within the structure. Also, my memory of the pump's cord(s) is one of those two-piece deals where the first piece to plug into the wall acts as a switch for the second plug... not going to hardwire THAT any time soon :(

For the receptacle, I suppose I could make a shadow box between the studs with a panel cover, which would allow me to set the actual electrical box deeper into the wall (nothing behind but several inches of airspace and a concrete block wall). But how would I hide the cord to get into the shadow box? Maybe if I notched the front of the sill plate about 1/2" the cord could be hidden behind the covering panel and the panel could still be flush with the wall.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2010 at 2:13PM
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