• Geoff Burke

Backup Sump Pumps - What They Are and Why You Need Them



You all know how sump pumps and backwater valves help prevent flooding, but we’re going to talk today about some extra, necessary steps you should take inside the house.


As you’ve learned, the sump pump in your basement is essential in removing the rising groundwater from underneath your home. It is especially needed in major storms, as groundwater rises significantly and quickly. The sump pump also needs a constant supply of power to function. Of course, its during these big storms (when you need your sump pump the most) that the power goes out! It’s for this reason that it is STRONGLY advised to install one of two backup systems, to make sure you are still protected when you need protection the most.


The first, and more common system is commonly referred to as a “Battery Backup System”. As the name suggests, we have a system that uses a secondary pump, powered by a marine battery (the same battery that powers a boat!). That battery (in good condition) will be able to power the secondary pump for 4.25 continuously, or 6 full days when pumping 4 times/hr – usually much longer than necessary to get you through a power outage! There are other advantages to this system as well – not only does it help prevent flooding during a power outage, it will also help to alert you if your primary pump has reached the end of its life. An audible alarm tells you when the backup pump is doing the work, alerting you that your primary pump needs replacement – before you find out because of a wet basement!


The second, and less common backup system ironically uses your house’s water supply to remove water from the sump pit. You may be confused by this – I was when I first installed one. This system uses the “Venturi Effect” to pull water out of the sump pit. Without getting too deep into the science, when water rushes through a constricted portion of pipe (think of an hourglass), negative pressure is created. This negative pressure is enough to “suck” the water right out of your sump pit. The major advantage to this system is that you never need to worry about a dead battery, or prolonged power outage – it will run as long as you have water supply (which is always!). The major disadvantage is how much water it uses to perform its job. Most claim that it takes ½ to ¾ gallons of municipal water to pump out 1 gallon of waste water. When dealing with ground water, that number adds up very quickly!


That’s all for this week! I want to stress again how important it is to consider having one of these systems installed in your home. As I always tell our customers, it is going to be much more expensive to refinish your basement in the event of what could have been a PREVENTABLE flood. I hope you all have another great week and we’ll see you next time!

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