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backup sump pump questions

Posted by rustyshackleford333 (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 14, 07 at 10:14

I've done a lot of reading, and since I have a similar situation to blue_velvet_elvis (new home, but sump pump has constant trickle of water, summer or winter [here in southern Ontario] and we've had one pump fail already) I'm thinking neither the battery back up systems are that great (only a few hours or relief, changing batteries every few years) and the water system won't do (our municipality says no to them) I've decided on a backup pump installed to a generator. Does anyone have a system like this or have any tips for me? My questions right now are:

1) What type of generator do I need? I'm thinking just a smaller, portable one - don't really need to run anything else, but might be useful for fridge/freezer too in emergency. I was thinking gasoline, but I've heard of natural gas ones? Probably a lot $$$ more to install?

2) How do I go about getting a little gas-powered generator to kick on during a power outage automatically? (If I'm away during the outage...)

3) I'd be installing it on a second pump so if pump #1 fails, pump #2 would kick on - but how would it "tell" the generator to start? I guess I'd have to be there (water alarm?) to turn on the the second pump if the first one fails (I'm thinking when the first one quits, not during a power outage - the pump does run 2-3 times per hour, all the time - it will wear out in a matter of a few years, right?)

I don't know...after all these Q's now I'm thinking a good battery backup might just be as good. I guess I'm just looking for a little help/advice to figure out what to do...

Thanks for any input...


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: backup sump pump questions

Are you plauged with frequent (and lengthy) power interruptions during storms? If yes, the only back-up generating system I know of with automatic start runs on natural gas. Yes, they are expensive but automatically take over the circuits for pumps, heat and refrigeration.

Your least costly option will be a battery power unit. You will just need to keep the battery fresh every couple years.

If power outage is not an issue, you might consider installing a second pump with the float set to kick on only if the first one doesn't.


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RE: backup sump pump questions

My sump pump kicks on mostly spring and fall, but I, too worried about pump failure. So, I now have 3 different pumps in one pit. Sounds odd, I know :). The lowest is a little pond pump triggered by a float switch (purchased separately at a big box store). When the water is just trickling into the sump, the little pump quietly trickles it out via a small tube. The little pump is rated for either intermittent or continous operation, and it should last a long time. That little pump handles most of the water. The next highest is a regular sump pump, triggered by float switch set to kick in if the little pump doesn't keep up (usually spring thaw and bigger rains). The third pump, on the highest switch, is my emergency pump with battery backup and an audible alarm. Other than the occassional test, pump #3 has never run, but I'm glad it is there. I keep an extra battery/acid pack, and I may buy a little generator. But as the OP notes, I'd have to be home during a power outage to fire a standard generator. It sounds like a lot in one pit, but two of the pumps are petite, so it all fits easily.


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RE: backup sump pump questions

Can you give some more info about the little pond pump (your primary pump) - what brand/make/model yours is and what I would search for to find out more about this kind of pump? Makes a lot of sense to handle the constant trickle of water, rather than the big/noisy pump kicking on every half hour or so...

Thanks


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RE: backup sump pump questions

Rusty, I no longer have the packaging to give you the details about my little pump. I bought mine several years ago at a Farm and Fleet store for my garden pond. I no longer have the pond, so I drafted the old pump into service in my sump pit. It has been in there for about 2 years with no problems. You can find similiar pumps in the water gardening section of Big Box stores and garden centers or Harbor Freight. You could shop online google water garden pump or fountain pump), but consider your return options.

You will want to select a pump to suit your specific situation. You'll want to estimate how many gallon per hour you will want it to handle (GPH) and how many feet it will raise the water (head) from the base of the pit to the discharge. There is also some resistance if any horzontal pipes are long, but this is less important than the head height. Will your municipality will let you discharge into a drain or will it drain outdoors? A drain might be closer, if allowed. Many pumps will have a chart or graph showing GPH at a given head height to give you an idea of the size you need.


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RE: backup sump pump questions

I did a check and my "trickle" amounts to a constant flow of around 100 - 200 gallons per hour. My pit is 2 feet down, and the water would have to go another 6 feet up the drain line out. I've looked at a few pumps, but it seems that 8' rise would eliminate a lot of them. I'm thinking I need something pretty powerful (1000gpms+ ?) in order to pump up that much water all the time.

Or is that rise just too much for most pond pumps?

I do really like your ideas of the constant pump rather than the sump pump always kicking on every 5-10 minutes - want to see if I can make it work. :)


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RE: backup sump pump questions

100-200 GPH--Wow, that's a big "trickle". You'll need a bigger pump than I have, but I think you can find the right one. Supreme Pondmaster seems to have a good reputation with water gardeners. However, I don't suppose many people have tried them for this application, so its a bit of a leap of faith. their Pond-Mag 5 (80 GPH @ 8 ft) might be a bit less capacity than you have in mind, and Pond-Mag 7 (300 GPH @ 8ft) is more than you think you need. You should be able to google and find the charts and details. I'm sure there are others. Good luck with it.


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RE: backup sump pump questions

Thanks - the pond-mags chart info I found (pondsonlinecanada.com - where I am :) shows higher numbers (have they improved?) so I may just go that route. I also saw they have a switch to shut off the pump just in case the water does run out sometime (not yet...but maybe sometime...)

Thanks for you help - we'll see how it works!


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RE: backup sump pump questions

I don't know why the site list slightly different flow rates. I imagine the performance will also vary a bit depeding on install details.

To avoid running dry, I purchased a tether float switch in the sump pump dept of a home improvement store (Simmer NK-15) to control my pond pump. It is easy to install with a piggyback plug, and you can set the on-off levels wherever you'd like. Pondsonlinecanada.com has a similiar switch "under low water protection," but you may find it for less elsewhere. They also have the tubing, fittings, and even check valves; I think I'll add a check valve :).


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RE: backup sump pump questions

Talk about an understatement...200gph is 3.33gallon per minute or to put this in perspective it is nearly twice the code flow rate for a lavatory sink faucett.

Reminds me of the Texan who was attending a conference in Buffalo,N.Y. and after hearing the texan brag about how big things are in Texas a New Yorker took the Texan out to Niagra Falls...Says,,I bet you don't have anything like that in Texas.

The Texan smiled and said ,,,No Sir, I don't recall ever seeing a leak like that in Texas, but I know a Plumber in Houston that could fix it in about an hour.


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RE: backup sump pump questions

Just curious...why does your municipality say no to the 'water' back up system? I have primary and secondary sump pumps and the 'water pressure' backup. The water in the pit must reach a certain level before the water pressure back up kicks on. There is also an alarm that goes off when the water is rising, this alarm is connected to our alarm company who would then contact us if we were not at home. But even if we weren't home, the water pressure system kicks in automatically. The alarm happens to be annoying, but the alarm company eventually turns it off. A few summers ago, our power was out for almost 2 days, and it was raining, the water pressure backup worked like a champ.


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RE: backup sump pump questions

Lisab, as I understand them, water pressure back-ups don't just utilize pressure, they use lots city water to pull the sump water out by Venturi effect. This effectively mixes the clean and dirty water and leaves to copious amounts of water pouring out, which eventually goes to a storm sewer (of course, it is even worse they dump it right into a sanitary sewer).

If it is a very active sump like Rusty's it would take a remarkable amount of city water to pump the sump water up 8 feet, if it could even do it. Doesn't that all that extra water contribute to straining the storm sewers, probably at the worst possible time (when it is already very wet/raining)? If many people use these and storm sewers are overwhelmed, won't flooding be that much worse? And, if enough people use them, won't the water supply be burdened? While the individual paying the water bill should care, I think the municipality should care, too.

Rusty, is there any place downhill from your basement where you could drain your sump by gravity to daylight? It seems unlikely with the waterflow you describe, but, it would be the best solution by far if it were possible.


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RE: backup sump pump questions

quip- Thanks for the info on the water pressure sump pump. We just inherited it with the house and in 4 years I think it has operated maybe 4 times. ( Twice because our mechanicals got sand or something in them and I needed to turn them off) Our water pump pumps the water into the back yard, not into any storm sewer. Unfortunately, the closest storm drain, in our driveway FEEDS INTO OUR SUMP PIT. Of course now not to code, but we really don't know how or where to reroute that storm sewer, it would have to be beaucoup bucks. Oh the joys of old home ownership.


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RE: backup sump pump questions

I'm a newby to home owning and I do get water in my 1920 colonial basement. Not always,but enough to make the floor unusable a few times per year. My husband and I use a wet vac and suck it up and empty outside. Isn't there a better way? Where do I start? Do I have to find out where it's coming from? What is a sump pump? The basement is below ground,appx 60X60 sq. ft. with cement flooring. Thanks for any help.Don't hesitate to refer me to good written materials on this subject.If I can understand directions I can do quite a bit.


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RE: backup sump pump questions

I'm no expert, but I've had basements for some time. Basically, some basements have a pit, usually near a corner or exterior wall. Often plastic drain tiles empty into the pit Sometimes it is just gravel bed empting into the pit. The sump pit is generally lined by a "crock" made of plastic or other material to keep it clean and intact. A sump pump sits in the pit and when activated by rising water, pumps the water from the pit to the outdoors. Here is a summary article. Hope it helps.

You will also want to do an internet search for info on keeping basements dry, like proper exterior grading, gutters and downspouts, etc.

Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: PM article


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RE: backup sump pump questions

What type of water pressure sump system would you recommend since there are many on the web sites...any good recommendations based on use???


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RE: backup sump pump questions

100-200 GPM...wow you must live in some low wet country.


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RE: backup sump pump questions

rusty-
does your land slope away that you could possibly install a gravity drain? It would be a good amount of work/expense but would be worth it


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RE: backup sump pump questions

Water powered pumps are not for everybody.

If you're in a rural setting where you get your water from a well a water powered pump will not work. Why? because if your regular sump pump is not working because the electric is off, there also will be no electric to drive your well pump so you have no water pressure to drive a water driven pump. Simple as that.

Many municipalities have outlawed water driven pumps because water driven pumps typically require 1 gal of municipal water for every 2 gallon of storm water they pump out.


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RE: backup sump pump questions

We bought an "Ace in the Hole" sump pump. It has a marine battery that recharges. I believe it sets off an alarm if the battery starts to die.

We bought a generator too but the problem is you have to be around to know there is a problem and to turn it on.


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