I have a sump pump, but what happens if my power fails?

- Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Since sump pumps are operated by electricity, what happens if your power fails for a long period of time? Are you at risk of a flooded basement? Adam talks about battery back-up systems for sump pumps.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Daddy himself, Adam Tracy. Adam and The Crack Man Rich have over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. Rich as over two5 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcast provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: I have a sump pump, but what happens if my power fails?

Narrator: So, Adam, you explained the purpose and use of a sump pump in previous episodes. They help keep your basement dry, so they are pretty important. Right? Since they are operated by electricity, what happens if your power fails for a long period of time? Are you at risk of a flooded basement?

Adam: This is a very common question that we get as a service request for a lot of sump pump systems that are both new installations as well as existing installations. One thing to remind everybody is that a sump pump is a mechanical device that runs on power and mechanical devices are subject to failures, including power failure issues. So, if you're in an area where you lose power often or have large storms that typically knock power out to your area. This is something that is a high risk for you because that sump pump relies on, obviously, electricity to run properly.

There's a few options as to where to go. And the biggest one that we get most inquiries on is a battery backup system. So, a battery backup sump pump is a secondary pump that gets installed within the same basin where the primary sump pump is. And that gets hooked up to a control board, which then goes to a deep cycle marine battery, and that will basically stand guard if power goes out, it flips the switch, and it allows the secondary pump to run. If you do have lots of power issues in your area or want to have a secondary pump for safety, this is a good option for people but it's not a safe option. Again, it's a mechanical device, and it does have risks to it. Number 1, it runs on a battery, and the batteries need to be replaced from time to time.

Often people will put them in these containers, which are all hooked up and bolted down, and they never change them out. So, 3, 4, 10 years goes by and this marine battery, which was once something where it had a 100% now only has 40 or 50% of its life cycle left in there. So where you could get maybe 3 or 4 hours of runtime, now you get 1 or 2 hours of runtime there. The second thing is that it is a battery and eventually it gets depleted. So you don't have a continuous run option or availability for extended periods of time. We had a battery backup system in my own personal home years ago, and we lost power for 3 days. After the 1st night, the battery was smoked, and there was no option for anything to go.

There was no power available in the battery. To actually run the battery backup system. So there is a risk to it. It gives people a little bit of false confidence that it is there forever and ever. The other issue with battery backups is the capacity of the pump itself. A primary pump is usually going to be a third of a horsepower or a half horsepower sump pump. If you go to a battery backup, it's a lot lower flow out of the pump. So typically, it runs more often, and it runs a little bit longer. So, again, where you may have a sump pump that runs once every 5 minutes during a major rain event, the battery backup system may run more often, every 2 minutes, every minute, maybe even faster.

That extra cycle time puts wear and tear on the pump. It also drains the battery faster. So does that mean you shouldn't get one? Well, I think you need to evaluate whether or not it's the right thing for you. Evaluate whether or not you use power very often. You evaluate, how often does your actual sump pump run? Is it something that runs every time it rains, or is it only during that once or twice a year event?

The other option that a lot of people kind of forget about, but we try to remind people is that there's another available means for backup power. Well, it usually turns into being a generator. A little small suitcase generator usually less than $600 or $700 has the capacity to both run your main pump as well as other things in your house, like a refrigerator or small appliances. So, you could look at using a generator as a secondary backup system for your primary pump. The pump didn't fail. Typically, it's usually a failure of power. But what happens if you're away, you're out to dinner, and you lose power. Well, there';s plenty of wifi enabled devices as well as alarms that you can hook into your house grid that you have water and also that you've lost power. If you are out in the way and you do lose power and you are getting water on the floor, you can get a notification right to your phone with a smart device, basically letting you know, hey, there's an issue out in your house. And so, you have your phone call to your neighbor or your family members who might live close by. To go do triage and see what the situation is while you're on your way home.

There are multiple options for you to look at battery backups or secondary pumping systems. Just know that because it's a mechanical device, it's not foolproof. They do need maintenance. They do need time to time, they need to be run to make sure they're not all jammed up, and you just can't leave it there forever. You just need to make sure that there's options for repair and replacement as the years go on. So, it is a good system. It can be expensive, but they do provide a secondary backup, but it's important to know that there are limitations to what they can do and what they can’t do.

Narrator: Well, thanks, Adam, for explaining what can happen when power fails and how you can provide a backup power source to your sump pump to avoid a flooding event.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit A1FoundationCrackRepair.com or call Rich at (866) 92 9-3171. Or you can email Rich at info@a1foundationcrackrepair.com. Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.

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Call Us Today at 866-929-3171

A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.