Any pro will tell you it’s better to replace a sump before you figure out it’s broken. Lately, the neighborhood Facebook page has exploded with calls for suggestions from terrified homeowners hearing sump pump alarms. Or a worse discovery a failed sump.
Our neighborhood is newer with the oldest home built 6 to 7 years ago. Not too many people replace their sump pumps on a regular basis. Personally we experienced a soaking wet basement from a dead sump pump 20 years ago and as a result, replace the pump somewhere in the 4-5 year range. In our “newer home” we can hear the sump pumping constantly during storms and for days afterward until the ground drys. So we’re not taking any chances on having it wear out during a storm.
A sump is a small pump installed in the lowest part of a basement or crawlspace. Its job is to help keep the area under your home dry and to prevent flooding. Normally, sump pumps are installed in specially constructed sump pits. Water flows into the sump pit through drains or by natural water migration through the soil that was set-up when the house was built. (or later if you added a sump because of problems) The sump pump’s sole job is to pump the water out of the pit and away from the foundation so the basement stays dry.
Sump pump backup systems come in a variety of packages. Before you spend the money on a back-up system ask yourself a few questions. Do you want a backup system that good for 8-10 hours? Or a system that runs indefinitely until the sump pump is replaced or lost electric service is restored?
Bad weather and loss of electrical power require the following backup:
A battery backup is a rechargeable battery pack that keeps your sump pump running in the event of a blackout. Some newer model sump pumps come pre-packaged with a built-in battery backup system.
A second sump pump that’s battery-powered is another option. It should be as powerful as the main pump, and it has a couple of advantages over just a battery pack- It should kick in not only during power outages but also if the main sump pump breaks down or needs help. According to my research, both types of battery backup options should switch on automatically when electric power goes out and should give you about 10 hours of pump time.
We opted for the water-powered backup which eliminates both the battery and the second sump pump. The system gets its power from our water main. It’s was professionally plumbed to a water line in the basement, it uses the pressure in that pipe to create a vacuum that sucks water from the pit.
The pros of a water-powered backup system are that there’s no battery to run out of juice — or to eventually need replacement. The cons are the amount of water it uses could leave us with an astronomical water bill. But for us, it was an easy decision. We’ve have endured the flooded basement with homeowners insurance covering most of the costs. But the mess of dealing with basement stuff and meeting workman in and out doing repairs taught us to prevent flooding anyway we can.
It’s no fun when a furnace or hot water heater breaks. A broken sump pump causes more damage and is harder to clean up than any major appliance located in your home. Keeping an eye and ear on the pump as well as scheduled replacements helps to keep your basement dry.