Q. I read an article that you wrote that convinced me not to install an attic fan. This help sends me asking you information on a different topic. We have a very nicely finished basement with new furniture and the sump pump is 15 years old. I want to cha nge it just for insurance against break down and flooding the basement. A couple questions come up. First, I would like to also install an emergency power-out backup pump. Is there information available any where for settings on the height of the emergen cy pump relative to the primary pump to make certain that emergency pump is triggered?
Looking at the schematics to install them the choices are parallel or serial discharge lines. I believe the parallel line is the best selection. With no experience on this I am assuming that the action lever on the emergency pump and/or the main body of this pump must be set above the primary pump.
A. Those who remember a few notable storms having occurred around here, especially those complete with long power outages and lots of rain, know the tales of idle sump pumps and basements filling with water so your wanting to prevent that is a wise thin g. A sump is lowest portion of a building where non-septic drainage that enters the building collects and if enough does it needs to be pumped out. But before you do anything like tossing your 15 year old pump out you might want to ask yourself a few qu estions. Has this basement, before you finished it and filled it with nice stuff, ever flooded and if so, why?
Iíll make the assumption that the sump pump is the original and that being said I can tell you that the building standards and codes enforced back in the early 1990s were mindful of foundation drainage including sub-slab and foundation wall drainage tile s that feed into the sump pit. The other drains that go into the sump are the pressure relief valve of the water heater (which normally should not discharge water and if it does it signals other problems), the air conditioning condensate line and any fl oor drain at the bottom of the areaway-- the outside basement staircase-- and sometimes from window wells equipped with drains. Keep in mind that what kills sump pumps are underwork or overwork. If they rarely to never turn on they will dry out and seize up and obviously if running almost constantly will just wear out. If you donít have a sump that runs too much or too little then its being 15 really isnít too big of a deal. A well designed house with proper exterior drainage and well maintained gutte rs and downspouts should never have a basement leakage problem.
Battery back-up sump pumps run on DC current supplied from an automotive battery. When they are not employed they sit in stand-by mode and the battery is attached to a trickle-charger to keep it charged. The discharge line can be totally independent off the main sump or attached to it. If itís attached to the main sumpís discharge line then it needs to be installed above the check valve for the main sump and the back-up sump line needs a check valve on its line prior to going into the main so that whe n one operates it doesnít flow back into the sump via the line of the other. The float switch of the back-up I would set a couple of inches above the float switch of the main sump pump and well below the rim of the sump pit at the floor.
The battery back up sump pump arrangement is most helpful should you be away from the house when power goes out and/or you donít have or canít run an extension cord to it from a emergency generator set outdoors. Itís a sickening feeling watching water po ur in and the pit fill to overflow and there is little or nothing that you can do about it.
Remember that a single charge of the battery is generally good for about 4 to 6 thousand gallons of water and thatís a lot of water and should protect you. There are local plumbing retailers who sell the battery back up systems or you can web shop at www.plumbingsupply.com/12volback.html.