We did a sump pump job earlier this month for a Baltimore City fire lieutenant. The pump was approximately 20 years old and still worked. He was interested in replacing the old pump before it failed and asked me my opinion on whether a backup sump pump was a good idea.
I have installed many battery-powered and water-powered backup sump pump systems. One is powered by a marine battery kept next to the sump while the other works off the municipal water system.
I personally favor the water-powered backup systems because as long as you have water pressure you will have a functioning pump. Battery systems will only last as long as your battery, typically 3 to 5 hours, depending on the volume of water being pumped. Unfortunately, power is sometimes interrupted for longer than 5 hours, and if you don’t have a backup generator, your home will likely be flooded. In addition, batteries eventually need to be replaced and it’s hard to know exactly when that replacement should take place.
Water-powered backup pumps, on the other hand, are essentially maintenance-free and work automatically and indefinitely. These pumps are based on the Venturi effect. Water under pressure from the public water main rushes past a foot valve, opening it, and thereby evacuating your sump. This is a very dependable system with a high discharge rate that should be able to keep up with even the heaviest of rains. (Discharge rates will depend on the height of the lift, length of pipe and your local municipal water supply pressure.)
After discussing the situation with the lieutenant, he asked me to install a new primary pump and a water-powered backup (see photo). Now he and his family will have peace of mind in future blizzards and hurricanes.
We tested the backup pump by unplugging the primary pump and filling the sump with a garden hose. It worked like a champ.
If you are interested in upgrading your sump pump, feel free to give us a call.