By Jerry Butler, America’s Plumbing
Whether you have a finished basement or large storage area, it doesn’t take much water to cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. Furthermore, clean up and replacement can be a nightmare lasting weeks if not months. To remove water and prevent a basement from becoming flooded, a sump pump is usually necessary. Primary sump pumps are powered by your homes electrical system. So if the electricity goes out, the sump pump can’t work, but the basement drainage system continues to collect water.
There are many different brands and designs for a primary sump pump. It’s important that you choose one that is reliable and will last for a long time. Even the most solid pump won’t do any good if the switch or float mechanism malfunctions or if it can’t pump water out fast enough.
I recommend High Performance Pumps for several reasons:
- They are energy efficient.
- Water cooled and filled with oil around the motor for additional cooling.
- They include a controller with an audible alarm that informs the homeowner if something is wrong. The alarm can also be wired into a home security system for monitoring.
- Float switches that sense if the pump is working properly.
- Up to 20 percent higher gallons per minute (GPM) flow capabilities.
- Smaller foot print is easier to position in the sump pit.
Many commonly used sump pumps are actually what I call “dumb pumps” because:
- They are not energy efficient.
- They are made of plastic.
- There is no alarm to know if the pump is working or not.
- Float assembly activates the pump only.
- Lower GPM pumping capabilities.
- Large foot print can be difficult to position in sump pits.
Sump pumps have an average life span of 5 to 7 years and can fail for two reasons—power failure or a pump that malfunctions or is simply worn out. There’s not much you can do to prevent either except to prepare in advance by having a back-up system in place. There are two main types of back-up systems: battery and water powered. Both types can usually be added to any existing pump.
Battery Backup Sump Pumps are the most common. They consist of a battery about the size of a car battery that is connected to the primary pump. In addition:
- They can be installed in most finished basements.
- Backup systems controller with audible alarms.
- Batteries generally last up to 4-8 hours of continuous use.
- Flow rates are equal to that of the primary sump pump.
- Higher end pumps can also run on AC current to act as a primary for temporary situations.
- Battery needs to be checked regularly and replaced every five years.
- Requires larger foot print for equipment around sump pit.
Battery backups are a reliable safeguard when the power goes out. But what happens if the power is out for more than 8 hours? Or what if the sump pump just stops working properly?
Water Powered Backup Sump Pumps do not depend on electricity. They protect the basement from flooding by using the pressure of city water to pump water out of the sump pit. In addition:
- No need to worry about keeping a battery charged, even if there is an extended power outage.
- If the pump fails for some other reason, you are still protected.
- Intakes one gallon of city water and discharges two gallons of ground water.
- Not quite as powerful as a primary pump or one operating on battery back-up. Provides up to 80 -100 percent of primary pumps flow rate depending on household water pressure.
- Standard systems mount on the cover of the sump lid. With upgraded systems, the pump mounts above the floor, creating easy access to the primary pump for servicing. Both systems can be sealed for radon to prevent radon leaks.
These pumps sometimes cannot be installed in finished basements due to location of water lines and proper sizing. They should also be tested at least twice a year to make sure they are in proper working condition. There have been instances where these pumps have been installed and not used for many years before it was needed. Since it is a mechanical item, parts can seize open or shut after it is activated.
Let’s face it, most people don’t think much about their sump pump until it’s too late. And as any homeowner knows, stuff breaks—usually without warning at the worst possible time. Ultimately, it is your choice to choose which system will work best for your application. Both water powered and battery powered backup sump pumps have their pros and cons but either one should give you peace of mind when the wet weather comes storming in!
Americas Plumbing is locally owned and operated by Jerry Butler. He has over 22 year’s experience, provides 24-hour emergency service and is available for all your plumbing needs. You may contact Jerry at his easy to remember phone number: 1-309-212-7681, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website at americasplumbing.net