If yours is one of the millions of American homes with a basement, you’ve probably experienced the stress and worry associated with basement flooding. I myself always listen for the sump pump when I lay my head on the pillow at night. The reassuring sound of the sump pump turning on and off gives me a sense of well being and I can sleep with the confidence that my sump pump is doing its job and keeping my basement dry.
Now that spring has finally arrived, heavy and unpredictable storms are the norm. For many, the risk of spring flooding brings on a sense of unease. Savvy homeowners begin checking the sump pump more often, put a plumber on speed dial and start thinking about backup systems because at any time, that sump pump could fail. The float switch could wear out or the impeller could suck up rocks and debris or (in my case) a piece of a plastic grocery bag (don’t ask!) and be rendered useless. So in that sense, your sump pump, your home’s protector and guardian is also your home’s Achilles heel. If the pump is inactivated, ground water will gradually flow into your basement via floor cracks and an overflowing sump crock.
The good news is that there are two backup systems available for your sump pump. Your Roto-Rooter plumber is familiar with both and can handle the installation in an hour and a half or less. The most common remedy is a battery backup sump pump that uses a marine grade battery that looks like the one in your minivan. If the primary sump pump fails or a storm knocks out electrical power, the battery will engage and power a backup pump for up to 12 hours, depending upon how often it has to turn itself on to handle the flow of water into the sump pit. The second backup option is called a Venturi backup pump. I’ll describe the advantages and disadvantages of the Venturi system in next week’s Roto-Rooter blog.