The sump pump is, without a doubt, the unsung hero of Canadian basements. In fact, on average, it never even gets a second look - that is, unless it stops working.
Suddenly all eyes are on the non-functioning sump pump system in the basement and all that water it isn’t pumping back out.
Sump pump systems don’t typically need a lot of maintenance, and they have fairly long useful lifespans as long as maintenance is promptly provided. But sometimes a single sump pump is not enough to keep water from invading and damaging your basement space.
Find out exactly what you need to do to keep your sump pump system working properly so it can keep your home and basement dry this winter.
Why Your Sump Pump Needs a Sump Pump
When it comes to sump pumps, one is rarely ever enough.
In the basement waterproofing business, we have a saying: “If one sump pump is good, two sump pumps are better.”
This is because the vast majority of sump pump systems run on electricity. And what happens if there is a power outage in the middle of a winter storm?
Too many homeowners have had to learn the hard way that an electricity-powered sump pump is of no benefit during a power outage unless an alternate power source has been enabled.
This is why we tell homeowners to get their sump pump a sump pump!
This backup sump pump will jump into action when there is a power outage or any other type of mechanical failure that causes the primary sump pump to become non-operational.
3 Common Types of Backup Sump Pump Systems
There are three common types of backup sump systems: motion activated, battery powered and generator powered.
These systems use a float switch or sensor to detect rising water, which then propels the backup sump to start working to pump out the water. Motion activated systems are less common today because the float switch can often get trapped or immobilized.
Battery powered backup sump systems can get you through a short power outage of anywhere from 12 to 48+ hours. But if your power outage and water seepage issues last beyond the life of your backup battery, you still run the risk of having a basement or home flood on your hands.
It goes without saying that you will need to make sure your backup sump pump batteries always stay charged and ready in the event of a power outage that causes your basement to take on water.
By far the most reliable backup sump system is a generator powered backup sump. Today’s generators can be set up to start automatically when a power outage is detected and run until the power is restored, at which time they will automatically power down.
But the best perk from choosing a generator powered backup sump system is that often the generator can also power other appliances or components during the power outage. This can help you save valuable food stores, power your emergency devices, keep the heat or A/C running and similar essentials.
How to Choose the Right Size of Sump Pump and Backup Sump Pump
Sump pumps are rated according to pump capacity. The pump capacity tells you the GPH (gallons per hour) that the system can pump out. The rate of water flow is the most important criteria for selecting a new sump pump or backup system (rather than the system’s horsepower rating).
If you are not sure what your existing sump pump’s capacity is, it should be visible on the side of the pump mechanism itself. Alternately, you can contact the manufacturer with the model number to find out the GPH. If your sump pump has a rating in GPM (gallons per minute) just multiply that by 60 minutes to get the GPH.
A number of factors can influence the GPH rating your new backup sump pump should deliver. The amount of water; the rate of inflow; the “head” or height the water must be lifted to reach ground level; the surface area the pump is responsible for keeping dry; the state of the existing grading and drainage system; and similar factors.
This can be a complex calculation, especially if you are new to sump system mechanics. Your Omni Basement Systems technician can assist with determining the right size of sump pump and backup system for your space.
3 Essential Steps to Protect Your Basement in Winter
A sump pump plus a backup is an absolutely essential safety feature no basement should be without. But a sump pump should never be expected to carry the entire burden for keeping your basement dry and safe.
The best approach is to implement more than one safety feature to ensure your basement is protected from water inflow on multiple levels and at all times during the year.
For this reason, we recommend this three-step approach:
1. Add a backup sump pump system (generator powered if possible)
Your sump pump should never stand alone against water inflow threats. Some homeowners even like to keep a full replacement sump pump system on hand in case of an outage.
2. Clean or upgrade window wells, floor drains, grading and gutters/downspouts
When your existing wells, drains, grading, gutters and downspouts are clean, clear and adequate, your sump pump system is far less likely to become overwhelmed with water inflow beyond what it is rated to handle.
3. Apply interior affordable basement waterproofing
Affordable interior basement waterproofing effectively seals your basement against water inflow from multiple sources.
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Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.