Power Outage Prep: 3 Sump Pump Backup Options to Consider
Imagine the power goes out during a rainstorm and your home has a sump pump. What would you do? Do you have a battery backup installed on your sump pump in case this situation arises? Or, are you using a generator to power the important systems in your home, like your sump pump, during such an outage? Watch as home maintenance experts The Handyguys explain three sump pump backup options homeowners may want to consider.
PAUL: Hey, welcome to the Handyguys, and today we are going to talk about sump pumps and particularly what to do when you have a rain storm and a power outage?
BRIAN: So in my house, my sump pump does not run too often, but I know some people that have their pump come on whenever it rains. So you need to make sure you have some kind of backup system if you are prone to losing power and you have water issues.
PAUL: So let’s go through the three options we have here on ways you can pump your water even if you lack electricity.
BRIA: There is a couple of different … there are three good options, pros and cons for each of the options, Paul, but the first we will talk about is a battery backup.
BRIAN: So what this is, Paul, is a separate pump that you put in the pit, in the sump pit with your existing electric powered pump. This one runs off of a battery. So what happens is that when the power goes out then the water level rises the point where this pump can take over and pump the water out.
PAUL: What I like about this system is that they are easy to find. You can get batteries or the system at your local hardware store or home center and it’s not a problem.
BRIAN: That’s right, it does not require a professional installation always, but you can certainly have a professional help you out if you need that. The instructions that come with it are pretty good and these can hook into your existing discharge lines.
PAUL: Right, it uses the same discharge line as your primary pump.
BRIAN: You will have a check valve on each and a Y fitting. It’s all shown in the instructions.
PAUL: So the one thing to consider though is that obviously it is a battery and batteries do not last forever.
BRIAN: That’s right. So this battery and depending on which battery you get. They are going to run 4 hours, 5 hours something like that. But remember your pump should not be on continuously. So maybe it will be on for a few minutes every hour. So this should handle you for maybe a day or day and a half of power outage depending on how long your pump runs.
PAUL: And the other thing to consider is that batteries do not last forever. So even if it is sitting in standby, they may only last 3 to 5 years and then you are going to need to replace it.
BRIAN: So recycle these batteries.
PAUL: OK, let’s talk about another option and that’s kind of the obvious … we have talked about it in some of our other videos and that is using a generator.
BRIAN: That’s right. You can use a generator … a whole home generator obviously is the ideal solution but even a small portable generator can power a sump pump.
PAUL: Right, but a small 2,000 watt generator or something like that is going to be almost dedicated to the pump and you can’t have many other things connected into it.
BRIAN: That’s right you have do that analysis as far as what the power draw is to the pump and what the generators capability is and make sure they match. The other thing I don’t necessarily like about a generator is you are going to have that generator on so when the pump runs it has that power. But the pump may only be on 10 minutes or 5 minutes every hour and the generator is running just in case the pump needs to run.
PAUL: So you are better off with a larger generator, even if it is a portable generator … a larger 5,000 watt generator or something like that because then you can hook other things … you already have it running powering your lights and your refrigerator and then it is ready for when your pump comes on. And you need to make sure you size it appropriately.
PAUL: And there are some downsides with a portable generator especially.
BRIAN: Right, so you have to put that outside of course. You’ve got to run an extension cord in to where you sump pump is located. You need to be able to move the power from the outlet into the extension cords and get it all hooked up.
PAUL: And you have to have fuel on hand. And a 5,000 watt generator can use up to 18 gallons over a 24-hour period. So that is a lot of fuel.
BRIAN: That is.
PAUL: So you still have maintenance issues there. You have to be prepared for that when using a generator.
BRIAN: Well we have a third option, Paul.
PAUL: There is a third option and this is kind of an interesting option. Tell us about it, Brian.
BRIAN: It is a water powered pump. So the way this works is that it uses city water to drive a pump that will take over when your electricity fails.
PAUL: Right, so this will not work if you have well water in your home. You need a municipal water system that has pressure even during power outages and you would connect this to one of your pipes. You need a professional to install it for you. And then it uses that water pressure to actually pump out the water from your pit.
BRIAN: So this would typically get mounted in an unfinished basement above the sump pit up at the ceiling level and this uptake line would go down in the sump pit. This would be your discharge line out to the outside.
PAUL: Right, so it is nice because it does not require electricity. It is all ready to run. But there are some downsides to this.
BRIAN: Right, professional installation for one. And if you already have a finished basement you may not have access to everything you need to hook one of these up without doing a fair amount of reconstruction.
PAUL: So in my finished basement I have already built a surround around my pit and I have sheet rock and it is painted and I don’t want to put holes everywhere in order to install a system like this. So this is going to be difficult to install.
BRIAN: You should have done that before you finished the basement.
PAUL: That’s right.
PAUL: So there you have it. We have three systems. We have battery, we have generator and a water powered system.
BRIAN: That’s right. So keep you basements dry when the power goes out.
PAUL: Thanks for watching.