Zoeller M53 Mighty-mate Submersible Sump Pump Review: Most Reliable Budget Pump?

Choosing a reliable or quiet sump pump typically isn’t something most people consider until they’re knee deep in groundwater from a flooded basement. However, if you have the chance to replace your box store sump pump with something better, we recommend making the most of it. Our favorite buy-it-for-life sump pump is the Zoeller M267; it moves water more quickly than almost any other pump on the market and it’ll do so for a good 10-20 years, but it also costs a cool $300. If you’re on a much smaller budget, below $200 we often recommend the Wayne CDU980E; however, we’re just as likely these days to recommend the Zoeller M53 Mighty-mate. It costs as little as the CDU980E but it works more like its big brother the M267. We recently reviewed it in the context of the best budget drain pump, the Zoeller 105-0001, which uses the M53. If you’ve got less than $150 to spend on a new sump pump, this is one of your two best choices. Read on to find out why.

Key Features of the Zoeller M53 Sump Pump (60 Second Summary)

The Zoeller M53 sump pump is a submersible sump pump with a 1/3 horsepower motor, a 2,580 gallon per hour maximum water flow rate, and a 3 year warranty that begins with the date of manufacture. It’s 7.8 inches tall, 10.5 inches wide, and 10.5 inches deep with a maximum pumping height (known as the max head) of 19.25 feet and a switch-on/switch-off height of 3 inches and 7-1/4 inches respectively. The aforementioned pump switch is vertical. It draws between 4.8 and 9.7 amps and runs on 115 volts. It doesn’t come with a battery backup, it weighs 21 pounds on our scale, and has a 9-foot long power cord.  Although the discharge flow rate can reach 2,580 gallons per hour at 0 feet, it drops to 2,040 gallons per hour at 10 feet, 1,140 gallons per hour at 15 feet, and is inoperative at 20 feet. The working temperature spans 40-130 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s self-priming and housed in cast iron and bronze, and the discharge size is 1-1/2″ NPT. It’s designed to be used with sump pits (sump basins) at least 15 inches in diameter.

How Does the Zoeller M53 Compare to the Wayne CDU980E and Zoeller M267 Sump Pumps?

Compared to the Wayne CDU980E, the M53 pumps far less water (a max flow rate of 2,580 GPH vs 4,600 GPH). However, unlike the CDU980E, the M53 is built with more solid construction and stronger impellers, giving it the capacity to handle (crunch through) up to 1/2″ (12mm) spherical solids.

What this means is that, while slower, the M53 is far less likely to get stuck or clogged with debris or contaminants in your sump pit; this can make a huge difference in the lifespan of your sump pump, particularly if your groundwater or sump pit is dirty or full of impurities. Unsurprisingly, we’d expect the M53 to last between 7 and 15 years while we’d expect the CDU980E to last between 4 and 8 years; this is significant if you’re hoping to avoid replacing your sump pump for a good amount of time.

However, if you’re really looking for a long lifespan and to only deal with sump pump replacement once or twice over the course of your home ownership, you’ll want to look long and hard at the M267. Compared to the M267, the M53 is a beginner’s sump pump. The M267 pumps much, much faster (a max flow rate of a staggering 7,680 gallons her hour), is capable of handling up to 2″ solids, and is likely to provide up to a 20 year lifespan. There’s no comparison; if you want the best AC sump pump on the market, it’s neither the CDU980E nor the M53.

Our Short and Long Term Experiences Installing and Using the Zoeller M53 Sump Pump

Installing the M53 was straightforward, and we’d have felt so even if we didn’t do this day in and day out. All you need to do is to connect a 1-1/2″ threaded fitting (male) to your discharge pipe (the one that leads water out of your sump pit). You’ll then place the pump in the pit, make sure it’s level and that the float isn’t touching anything, and plug the whole mess in. You’ll also want to install a check valve (we recommend a silent one like the Brady check valve) and you’ll also need to drill a relief hole 3/16″ in diameter. All of this is diagrammed in the instruction sheet.

Once installed, we found the M53 quiet. It wasn’t dead silent, but it was more than close enough; it was hard to hear it from more than a few feet away. And the long-term feedback we’ve gotten from most fellow contractors and homeowners has been overwhelmingly positive. We stand by our estimate of a 7-15 year lifespan with this pump, keeping in mind that there will always be outliers in both directions.

Troubleshooting and Installation Tips to Get Your Zoeller M53 Working Sooner

To keep your Zoeller M53 working for years, you’ll want to check its float switch action from time to time, especially if your sump pit doesn’t see much water very often. The reason behind this is that the switch can stick over time if it dries out and become less likely to move independently; this won’t be a good thing if it gets stuck while water levels start rising.

Despite the reliability of the M53, we always preach the wisdom of buying a DC backup pump (or a water-powered backup pump) to support it, or any sump pump based on AC. If you have a large budget, the Wayne WSM3300 is the best DC-based backup pump on the market; it’ll literally call you if it needs to self-activate during a power outage on top of its ability to run frequent self-tests. On a smaller budget, we recommend the Wayne ESP25; what’s most important is that you’ve got some kind of backup system in place to help keep your basement dry during power outages.

We also think it’s a good idea to not simply buy the regular Zoeller check valve for the M53 but to spend a bit more on a silent check valve. Even though the M53 is already a quiet sump pump, you’re still going to hear the “thunk!” that comes with traditional hammer check valves, and you can get rid of that completely with a silent check valve. We recommend the Brady check valve as a cheap, highly effective, and silent option.

Finally, don’t skip out on a separate water alarm. You don’t need the most fancy one on the market; something like the Basement Watchdog will do. The important thing is to install it in your sump pit a bit above your float switch (or backup float switch if you get a backup DC sump pump, which we recommend). As a result, your water alarm will be triggered if your M53 doesn’t start, stops working, or can’t keep up with water flow (and if the same occurs with your backup pump). If you hear your water alarm sensor, you’ll know it’s time to high-tail it to the basement.

Zoeller M53 Sump Pump Pros, Cons, and Value Comparison

In conclusion, if you’ve only got $150 to spend on a sump pump, chances are that it’ll come down to either the Wayne CDU980E or the Zoeller M53. Both are solid choices, but if you don’t need the higher flow rates of the CDU980E, we’d recommend the M53 for its greater longevity and facility with debris-filled water. Overall, however, we’d recommend spending just a bit more for a much faster and much, much longer-lasting sump pump in the Zoeller M267 if at all possible.

You can buy the Zoeller M53 here on Amazon. You can buy the Zoeller M267 here. You can buy the Wayne CDU980E here. You can buy the Wayne ESP25 here. You can buy a water alarm here. You can buy a silent check valve here.

If you find our work at PumpThatSump helpful, you can put our relentless reviewing of every pump and fixture on the market to the test by shopping via our links above for whatever you need to make your house a home. Despite being self-employed, we promise not to spend it all on health insurance.

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