Sump pumps and battery backups
Flooded basements and crawlspaces can be a nightmare. The water soaks into your furniture, appliances and family possessions, which are ruined or take days to dry out. The water also damages any carpeting, wood framing and drywall, creating the wet conditions that dangerous mold, mildew and fungus love to grow in. Flooding not only leaves you with a lot to clean up, but it ultimately weakens the structural integrity of your home.
Flooding often occurs when rainwater or melted snow isn’t carried far enough from your home’s foundation. The water saturates the ground near your home, entering through fissures and cracks and slowly rising inside your basement or crawlspace.
How does a sump pump work?
Sump pumps are installed in a sump hole, or pit, at the lowest level of your basement or crawlspace, and they run on the home’s standard AC current. When water reaches a certain level in the sump hole, the sump pump turns on and pumps the water outside through a pipe leading at least three feet from your home’s foundation. In effect, the pump pushes water away from your house before it has a chance to rise to the level of your basement floor and create flooding.
Many homeowners installing or replacing sump pumps choose one with a battery backup. If a storm is severe enough to cut off your electricity, or if the primary pump gets clogged or has mechanical problems, the primary pump can’t work, and it can’t prevent flooding. Backup pumps are independent units that sit next to the primary pump and run on DC current from a battery, giving you a redundant system and ensuring that the sump pump keeps operating even without electricity. And when the main pump can’t keep up during especially heavy storms, battery backup pumps turn on to provide extra pumping capacity. (Water-supplied backup pumps exist, but LBA advises that they aren’t powerful enough to handle large amounts of water.) A control box tests your backup pump weekly and sounds an alarm to let you know when a power failure or other problem has activated the backup pump.
Who should consider a backup pump?
You should consider a battery backup pump if you live in an area of older homes and if severe storms or heavy snows frequently knock out the power that runs your pump. LBA also recommends backups if your current pump turns on too often, or if you have a finished basement that would be costly to repair or restore after flooding.
A backup pump can be added to an existing pump, but for just a little more money, you can replace the old one and get a battery backup in what are called combination sump pumps. Combination pumps provide both a new primary pump and a backup pump in one compact unit. LBA offers multiple different options in combination pumps, so homeowners can pick the price, quality and warranty that best fit your family, lifestyle and budget. Reconstructing a flooded finished basement and replacing furniture and possessions would cost much more.
How much maintenance do sump pumps need?
Sump pumps last five to seven years, and the batteries for backups last five to eight years. To keep your pumps operating smoothly, it’s important to do regular maintenance of your sump pump. LBA has found everything from children’s toys to construction debris in sump pits, so check regularly to make sure the pit is clear of items that could get sucked into the pump and damage it. Also run a hose or pour water inside the pit regularly to make sure the pump activates when the water rises to higher levels. When you sign up for LBA’s whole house safety and maintenance check, this maintenance is included in our service.
So avoid flooding nightmares. Call LBA to replace a failing pump, to install a combination pump and battery backup, or to inspect and maintain a system that will keep your basement dry and comfortable year round.