With the growing need to convert as much of their homes square footage into livable space more and more homeowners are turning to their basements. Many of the newer homes incorporate a completely finished basement into the design, while a large number of individuals with older homes are turning to complete basement remodels. Either way there is now a significant amount of  time and money being invested in an area of the home which is below grade and subject to all kinds of external water pressure. To help avert the potential destruction caused by  basement seepage a full perimeter drain tile is utilized to re-direct ground water safely away from the building’s foundation. A key component of a properly functioning draintile system is the sump pump. A malfunctioning sump pump can spell disaster. Sump pumps can fail for a number of reasons such as age, inability to keep up with excessive water flow, contaminates in the ground water or a power outage.

So it is not a question of will my sump pump fail but when.
Rest assured a sump pump almost never fails at a convenient time. Why take the chance??

With today’s technology there a number of quality battery back-up sump pump systems available on the market. They will range from low end in line pumps with  a smaller pumping capacity to larger units which will handle several thousands of gallons of water per hour. The duration of time units will run without A/C power will also vary from unit to unit. Since most of the systems available will run on both A/C and D/C if large amounts of water are flowing into the pit a battery back-up can be installed to assist the primary even if the power does not fail.

You will want to consider several factors when determining what system is appropriate for you. First take a look at the volume of water around your home. If you can, make a mental note of how often your primary pump cycles on and off during a normal rain storm.  If the sump pump is evacuating the pit every couple minutes than you will want a back -up that can handle larger volumes of water. A lower end in line pump designed to handle less than 1000 gallons of water per hour is probably not for you. Look for an independent stationed unit with a pumping capacity closer to that of your primary pump.

Secondly consider the duration and frequency of the power outages you experience. Unless you have the capital to invest in a whole house generator a good battery back-up system is a must. Most units on the market are designed to run for an average of 7.5 to 8 hours on a full charge. However there are systems available that will run for a couple of days on a completely charged battery. Some systems even allow you to combine multiple batteries to increase run time.

Third you would want to look at the charging unit. Idealistically you would like to have a system that once the battery is drained it has the capacity to recharge it quickly. Chargers come in a number of different styles. The most common battery back-up sump pump has a small control pad mounted directly on the top of the battery box.  Almost all of these utilize a trickle charger which constantly charges the unit. While this sounds like a good idea, besides taking a long time to recharge a depleted battery the constant charge can actually shorten the life of the battery.

An alternative would be a system with an independent quick charge configured within a full size control panel. An additional benefit of this type of control unit is most are designed to run the back-up pump system through a routine series of test to insure the pump is ready when needed.

An often overlooked aspect of battery back-up system is the alarm. How will you be notified that there is a problem with your primary pump and the back-up pumping system has run ?

Most all of the models on the market have the standard 80 db single phase alarm.  But unless  you are close enough to the unit to hear the alarm you won’t know if there is a problem.  Due to today’s technological advances there is a battery back-up sump pump available which is designed to be internet friendly. This will literally give you access to the unit from almost anywhere on a number of different mobile apparatuses . This system can notify up to three different devices in the case of an emergency.

With so much money invested in transforming a basement into a quality living space and with the sump pump acting as the primary line of defense from water infiltration, why would not want to protect yourself.

Written by Walter Slowinski