Sump pump systems are designed to protect your home from ground water seepage. So, you can imagine how important a working sump pump is in an emergency like a flood. That is why many people are installing duplex pump systems or back-up sump pumps in case the primary pump fails.
There are two kinds of backup sump pumps: one that runs on a rechargeable battery and one that is water powered.
Battery Back-up Pump: A 12 volt battery back-up sump pump provides extra protection if the primary pump fails. Typical battery systems can operate at least 6 hours without being recharged. A lot of homeowners use this system with an electric generator in an emergency. Most battery charged sump pumps have a controller/charger that monitors the battery condition and frequently recharges the battery. It also alerts you when the back up pump is activated.
Water Powered Back-up Pump: Like fighting fire with fire, you can pump water with water. Water-powered back-up sump pumps are connected to your main water supply. They require no batteries at all. It starts automatically and has an unlimited run-time. With the ability to remove a quantity of up to 1,324 gallons of water per hour, these types of pumps are the only kind that are compatible with your 3/4" municipal water supply pipes. Typically, water pressure backup pumps mount on the ceiling above your primary sump pump system.
Power Failure: In most cases, a sump pump fails because of a loss of power. There are several reasons you could lose power. There could be a storm causing a local power outage, a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse; a damaged power feed line or even something as simple as an unplugged pump.
Mechanical Failure: Another common reason for sump pump failure is a mechanical problem, such as a faulty part or an aging pump. The pump may be burned out or jammed with mud or a stone. It could have a broken impeller, drive shaft or the float switch could be stuck or broken. A back up pump isn't going to protect you from mechanical failure so it is wise to purchase a separate alarm that will alert you to a system failure in addition to your backup pump.
Most mechanical problems with the sump pump are float related. If the pump does not start, the float may be hanging on something in the tank. A simple repositioning of the pump should solve the problem. If this fails, the float may need replacement. If the pump fails to shut off when the water level drops to the bottom of the sump tank, this indicates you need a new float.
Pump Overload: Pump overload usually occurs when an excess of water flows into the sump pump. When this happens the pump is unable to handle all of the incoming water and it malfunctions. Also, a pump will overload if foreign matter becomes trapped, partially clogging the pump. This will cause the motor to start to run slower and eventually the sump pump will stop working.
It is important to check your sump pump regularly to make sure that it is in proper working condition. Remove the cover and slowly pour water into the sump tank. Watch for the "float" to rise and trigger the pump. Once the pump is engaged, the water level will quickly lower and the float will shut off the pump. This is what is called "a normal sump cycle".
Homeowners insurance usually does not cover basement flooding caused by ground water. And if they do, they may charge extra premiums, impose higher deductibles, or strictly limit the coverage. Once you've claimed this type of damage, the insurance company may exclude you from future coverage or even raise the price and deductibles to a very high rate.
If your basement depends on a sump pump, you need a backup sump pump! For a small one-time investment, you get basement flood protection and peace of mind. The back-up sump pump is inexpensive flood insurance.
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