Skip to main content

Basement Sump Pump

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I am about to begin work on a basement finishing project that involves installing a full bathroom with bathtub, shower, toilet and a vanity sink.

But there are some additional plumbing requirements for my basement that I will need to address. One is the sump pump. My home has a single sump pump and pit in my basement. For those of you not familiar with how a sump pump works, there are drain tiles surrounding the perimeter of the house and beneath the basement slab. All runoff water is channeled through these drain tiles and into the sump pit where an electric pump ejects it out to the storm sewer.

It just makes good sense to have a reliable, working sump pump in any basement, whether it has previously flooded or not. The potential for flooding is always there. Installing a sump pit, drain tiles and pumps is not a job for a casual handyman like myself. There is simply too much at risk for the do-it-yourselfer. I would definitely recommend  you call one of several plumbing companies or plumbing contractors who have sump installation experience. As plumbing companies go, it's pretty tough to find one that has more sump pump experience than Roto-Rooter.

But in my case, the pit, drain tiles and pump are already in place. And fortunately, the way I've laid out my basement finishing plans, my sump pump will be in a relatively unfinished area that I will use as a store room. My sump pump works reliably but it is always a good idea to have some sort of backup system in case the primary sump pump fails.

In my last home, I had one of Roto-Rooter's licensed plumbing specialists install a battery backup sump pump. These systems incorporate a marine-grade battery that will power a backup sump pump in the event the primary pump fails or if a power failure prevents the primary pump from pumping. One of the worst residential plumbing catastrophes is a sump pump failure. Basements can quickly fill with water and ruin carpet, furniture, drywall and everything else so it is extremely important to me to have a good backup system.

But in my experience, battery backup pumps are not infallible. One time in my old house, the on/off switch on the primary sump pump failed and water began to rise in the sump pit. As designed, the battery backup pump kicked on and began doing its job. We were gone all day (isn't that the way it usually works) but when we returned, I heard the backup pump's audible alarm making its last dying gasp in the basement and went downstairs to check things out.

The battery had nearly exhausted itself and the audible alarm was getting quieter by the minute. The battery no longer had enough power to keep the backup pump operational. Such is the case with a battery backup system. They're only good for about 12-hours. After which time, the water is free to fill your sump pit and spill over into your home. It almost never happens at a convenient time, which is why Roto-Rooter offers 24 hour plumbing service.

My battery system died in the evening hours on a Sunday night. The primary sump pump would work but only if I manually turned it on each time the water level rose in the pit. Since I planned on sleeping that night, I knew I had to do something fast. I barely had enough time to drive to Lowe's to purchase a new primary pump. Talk about a plumbing problem! If I didn't make it in time, I was just going to call the local Roto-Rooter plumbing contractors and let them deal with it.

Fortunately, I made it to Lowe's with minutes to spare and purchased a new sump pump. Then I returned home and began making the plumbing repair. Once the new pump was in place, the backup system was free to recharge itself again and the basement never flooded. But I've often thought about what might have happened if I had been on vacation or gone from the house for an extended period. My basement surely would have flooded.

Well, Roto-Rooter is always at the forefront of plumbing services and many of our locations are now installing a different kind of sump pump backup system that has no moving parts beyond a simple check valve. These new systems use the water pressure from your home's water supply lines to force flood water out of your sump pit in the event that your primary sump pump goes out. I am most likely going to have Roto-Rooter install one of these systems in my new basement. I'll probably have the plumber install it when I have them out to put in the water supply lines for my new bathroom.

As mentioned previously, I am in the process of exploring the right bathroom plumbing solutions for my basement and hope to begin work on that area before I do anything else.

Related Articles