The best ways to back up your sump pump.

Last updated 8 months ago


What’s the one piece of equipment in your home that must be ready to go into service 24/7 and 365? Your spouse may say the television or microwave while the kids would likely vote for the Internet connection. In reality, if you have a basement or crawl space it should be your sump pump.

While it may have one of the least desirable locations in the house, a sump pump not only contributes to your homes water management strategy, it keeps you and your possessions dry and reduces risk of mold, mildew and the various health and breathing issues they contribute to. Having a fully functioning sump pump should be a priority, and the best way to make sure it is working is to find out how they can stop working.

Why does a sump pump not pump? The reasons are many. Loss of power, switch failure, clogging, large volumes of water, failure of the check valve and blockage of the discharge pipe are the most common. Regular maintenance helps avoid problems. Having a backup system for your sump pump can help reduce the chances of failure and keep you dry.

Secondary pumps in the same sump crock are set slightly higher than the primary. If the primary pump fails for any reason the secondary, in most cases slightly smaller pump automatically starts and also sounds an alert so you now it is in operation.  It also helps if you know you have a problem. 

Sump pump alarm systems alert you much like the smoke or carbon monoxide detector you probably already have. Various models can sound buzzers or even call your cell phone when they detect moisture where it shouldn’t be. But alarms only tell you that a problem exists now. What about solving it before things get that bad?

The electric motor in a sump pump needs two things; water and electricity. No power means no pumping. Battery backup systems are available for many sump pump systems. Not only can they notify you when the power is out, but also provide continual charging of the battery when electric service is just fine. The one thing to remember about a battery backup system is that it uses a separate smaller pump that is moving significantly less water than the primary, namely 10 gallons per minute as opposed to the 30 to 60 gallons of a primary pump.

The TripleSafe™ Sump Pump System, provides these three levels of protection for your basement and your peace of mind.

For normal functioning, the TripleSafe™ has a powerful, cast-iron Zoeller® ⅓ horsepower sump pump set at the lowest level. For heavy volumes of water or in case of primary pump failure, a second, more powerful Zoeller® ½ hp pump set a bit higher in the liner will take over. In case of a power outage, an UltraSump® battery backup sump pump, set at the highest level, will pump 11,500 gallons or more on a fully charged battery!

Do you regularly lose power in your neighborhood? Either a portable or whole house automatic generator may also be something to consider. While wheeling out and pull starting a gasoline generator may be fine for camping, today’s systems feature natural gas power and self-starting capabilities to power your entire home, and even test themselves automatically, sending a report to your e-mail.

If you are on a city water system there is a backup system that uses your home’s water pressure to power another separate pump. While installation is more involved with permits, plumbers and running supply lines to the existing pump, a system of this type uses two gallons of fresh water to pump out 1 gallon of sump water. One look at your monthly water bill will bring the end cost of such a system into focus.

No matter the level of protection you select, having a backup plan is always a good idea.

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