Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Battery Back-up For Your Sump Pump

With the weather becoming more unpredictable so are things like power failures.

Power failures can be wide spread or they can be as localized as only your street or even your house if the wrong wires gets damaged at the street. Usually power failures happen when there is a big storm with lots of rain or snow. What does that bring with it? Moisture, lots of moisture.

Every house should have in it a sump pump hole with a proper robost sump pump in it. But what happens to your sump pump hole and your sump pump when the power fails.

Well when the power fails your sump pump turns off, nothing happens to your sump pump, the water that is around it won't hurt it, they are designed to be submerged in water. It just sits there waiting to have electricity resupplied to it.

Your sump pump hole on the other hand is another matter. Modern homes have a weeping tile around the outside of the house, this is connected to your sump pump hole. The reason for this design is that it brings the excess water that is around the outside of the house and under the house to the sump pump hole/pit. As more water comes through the pipe the level of water in the sump pump pit rises. In normal circumstances when it rises it eventually gets to a point where your sump pump detects the water, turns on and ejects the water out a pipe, the pipe goes outside and away from the house. If your sump pump does not turn on (like in a power failure) then the water will keep rising until it comes out the top of your sump pump hole and covers the basement/crawlspace. The level of water will be affected by the amount of ground water that is around the house.

When the power returns the sump pump will turn on and remove the water overtime (as long as nothing has happened to the sump pump). There are actually things that can happen to a sump pump because of a power failure;
  1. Pop a breaker. If your sump pump comes on when the power returns and hits hard right away it can trip the breaker turning the power off to it. This means that the pump will not work until someone physically pushes the breaker back to its set position.
  2. Debris Clog. If the water has flooded the basement then when the sump pump starts pumping debris can be carried back to the sump pump hole (carried on the water as it recedes) and clogging the sump pump line or propeller.
  3. Float interference. The float or check valve of the sump pump can be infringed by things that are floating in the water, this would mean that the float would not return to its position to allow the pump to turn on as the level of the water rises again.
  4. Power surge. The shock of the power surge going off or coming on can damage the motor in the pump depending on how far down the sump pump plug is wired in the panel when the surge hits the electrical panel.
One of the best things you can do is install a backup sump pump, one that runs on batteries.
A battery back up pump never runs unless the water gets higher then the original sump pump. It is a smaller pump, it is not meant to run for long periods of time, but it is good enough to keep the water level below the floor of your basement when the power goes out.

The battery is charged by the same electrical line that feeds power to the normal sump pump, it engages with the power failure and the higher then normal water levels in the sump pump hole.

It is not that expensive a cost to have it installed and any qualified plumber can install one in your home. 

The only other alternative is to have a back up generator installed and that is a costly project to have completed. This still does not protect you if your primary sump pump fails, it just allows the primary sump pump to stay working throughout the power failure.

So for your basements safety and some piece of mind talk to your contractor about a battery backup in your sump pump hole.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.