sump pump backup

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by pmayer, May 23, 2011.

  1. pmayer

    pmayer New Member

    Messages:
    102
    Location:
    Minnesota
    All,

    Our house is 25 years old, and has what I presume to be the original sump pump. It rarely runs, and when it does, it is flawless. Some years it never runs, some years it will go occasionally for a couple days.

    There is no backup on the system, but I just finished the basement and I want to build some redundancy into the system. My questions:

    1. Should I replace the primary pump due to its age? Or is cycles used a better metric for determining life expectancy? What is the life expectancy of a typical pump?

    2. What is the general thought around battery vs. water powered sump pump backup systems? The water powered seem simple, maintenance free, and lower cost, but also seem less common, so I assume there is some catch.

    3. Which brand(s) are the best for both primary and secondary?

    As always, thanks for your help!
  2. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,002
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I'm not sure that the quality of a new pump would equal what you have now so I would not be quick to replace what ain't broke. If there is room in the sump pit for a second (backup) pump, that is what I would do. Given how infrequent the use, a water powered unit should outlast any battery backup system.

    Consider incorporating a sump alarm.
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,051
    Location:
    New England
    Keep in mind that a water powered system needs somewhere to dump the water used to power the thing. Depends on where your sewer line is. If you have a septic system, it may not be a great idea, since it appears you only have a problem when it has been quite wet out...this already stresses the leach field. You sure you want to dump lots of extra gallons there? Then, if you are on city sewer, there's not only the water bill, but the extra sewer bill. Assuming you have a well, then water powered would be bad news. If your history of power loss indicates you may be at risk, then some sort of backup is a good idea. But, if you are worried that the pump may just fail, then a second one may be a viable choice.
  4. pmayer

    pmayer New Member

    Messages:
    102
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Good input so far. Thanks, guys.

    Jim, responses to your questions.

    - I am on city water, and the since the use of the sump pump is extremely rare, I am not concerned about the water/sewer charges for the off chance that the backup is used.
    - Our history is power loss is next to nothing.
    - I am not worried about the pump failing, per se, but rather just wondering if I should be worried with a pump of that age, given the light duty cycle. If all of this adds up to something that I shouldn't really be worried about, then maybe I will just incorporate a battery backup system, plug the existing pump into it, and be done with it.
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,051
    Location:
    New England
    If you rarely have power outages, a UPS big enough to do much on a power hungry pump can't be justified and would be quite costly. The battery backed up pumps are (I think) DC motors, so there's less conversion loss. A motor can last a very long time if it isn't used much. The pump impeller and housing, if the water isn't nasty and full of sand, may be more likely to fail. Depends on the type of bearings and how well the thing is sealed when the motor dies. It is one where the thing is submersible, or on a tower where the motor is above the water?

    I'd consider a second pump, if that one failed (and I still had power), and forget the alternate power source.
  6. pmayer

    pmayer New Member

    Messages:
    102
    Location:
    Minnesota
    The motor is submersible. Which style do you think is better? Tower or submersible?

    Good input on the UPS concept. I'm glad I asked. :)
  7. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Consider adding a Zoeller Aquanot II to your existing pump system this will give battery backup at the full capacity of your existing pump. Or, adding a second pump making up an alternating duplex system...
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,680
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    NOT operating is worse for a sump pump that frequent operation. With little use, bearings can dry out and seize, seals can go bad, or cast iron impellers can corrode and freeze up.
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