One of this week’s projects was to make a cover for my basement sump. When I moved into my house I was pretty nervous about the whole idea of a sump — what if the power goes out or there is a malfunction? And I was especially nervous about the one installed — it looked ancient, decrepit, and, in the style of my entire house, like it was installed by a very clever trained animal.

I had some plumber guys come in and put in a working main shutoff valve (!) and a new sump system with a functioning check valve (!). This new system also included a water powered secondary pump with a separate drain system which is designed to operate in the absence of electricity.

This work meant that the old sump cover no longer fit and I’ve lived with an uncovered pit of water in the corner of my basement since then. That was less than ideal so it was time to fix it.

Some time in the past I ordered a piece of furniture and was delighted to find it packed in a giant sheet of solid 3" thick expanded polystyrene foam. Like a kid, I honestly thought the foam packing was as cool as the contents. Anyway, there was some debate in my household about whether we should keep it. A debate I have finally resolved!

With my table saw blade at 45 degrees, with about 26 cuts, I was able to make a kind of acoustic foam shape by moving the fence 3" every cut.


Here is the old sump cover which no longer fits. I used it as a template to trace the sump circumference.


I used a long razor knife to cut it to shape.


Then I cut a board into three pieces and custom fit them. I painted them with the same marine paint I used in this project. Here I’m laying them out with the foam.


This allowed me to cut the foam just right. I was careful to vacuum up all those little pieces.


I used hot glue to attach the foam to the wood.


And here’s the final result!


I also couldn’t stand looking the terrible job the plumbers did with the cable routings. Yes, that’s more my specialty than theirs — now fixed. There is actually a 1/4" gap in the front for water to enter in the event of flooding. And if the sump fills up for some strange reason, the foam will lift the boards off like a dock. Hopefully covering this small open well will help reduce the humidity in my basement. And the whole point of the foam is to greatly reduce the noise when the thing kicks on in the middle of the night.