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Misinformation on Sump Pumps and Battery Back-ups Systems

There is so much information and misinformation regarding sump pumps and battery back-up systems that we feel compelled to give it to you straight. Here are some tips on what you should look for when purchasing a sump pump/battery back-up.

battery back-up and sump pump battery
Which Sump Pump Battery Brand to Buy?

What Brand Pump are you Considering Purchasing? What Brand Pump is the Plumbing Tech Offering? We know this may sound trivial but do some research on what you’re getting. If you’re considering going to a home center you may see some pump names you don’t recognize or you don’t see advertised. Be aware that the home centers may have brand names that are private labeled. We like to know who is making the product and how their customer service responds to issues that may arise.

Pump Sizing

What size pump are you considering installing or what size pump in the Plumbing Tech trying to sell you? Is it a 1/3 H.P. ½ H.P., 1 H.P. sump pump. Please don’t get caught up in the horse power of the pump. The only thing you really have to worry about is how high the pump needs to pump the water in order to evacuate the pit. (Total Developed Head). For example if a basement has a 2ft pit, 8ft ceilings and goes 1ft out to the discharge you have 11ft of total head. A 1/3 H.P. sump is standard in most homes and is adequate for most installations.  Do you get a ton of water even when it doesn’t rain? Do you have 10 ft. ceilings and is your discharge 5ft away? These would be some reasons to upsize the pump. Don’t let someone try and sell you a ½ H.P. when you don’t need one. If someone suggests you get a larger capacity pump ask why, it is possible to oversize a pump.

Plastic, Stainless, Cast Iron?

What materials are used to make the pump? Plastic or Stainless Steel/Cast Iron or all cast iron? Plastic pumps can be used in very light duty situations but for longevity and durability nothing beats a cast iron primary sump pump.

The Switch, The Switch

What kind of switch is used to activate the pump? Most sump pump failures are due to bad float switches. Commonly you have one float switch that activates your pump. Ask your plumbing professional if they offer a pump with a dual float switch or a pump with an electronic level control. A pump with a dual float has just that, two float switches incased in a cage. If one switch goes bad the other activates the pump. A pump with an electronic level control has no floats or moving parts therefore there is nothing to wear out and you eliminate the possibility of a pump failure due to continuous use because of a faulty switch or diaphragm control. It’s all about the switch.

Power or Pump Failure Alarms

Does the sump pump come with any electronic warning devices. A few manufacturers are including an electronic controller that is mounted on the wall next to the pit. It will tell the homeowner when their power goes out, if the primary pump has failed, if the pump has been running for more than 10 minutes and when to replace the 9 volt battery that powers the control. Some of these controllers can even be hooked up to a home alarm system and will text or call you in case of failure. This is just some added piece of mind and added value you can demand when choosing you next pump.

Submersible or Pedestal Sump Pumps?

Is the pump being offered a submersible pump or a pedestal pump? A pedestal pump stands upright in the sump pit and its motor is on top of the pedestal. It is not designed to get wet. Pedestal pumps work fine, they are usually cheaper, noisier than submersibles.

Manufacturer’s Warranty

What is the manufacturer’s warranty on the pump. What is the Plumbing Contractor’s warranty on the product? Sometimes a manufacturer works out a special warrantee with particular contractors who use their product exclusively. This also gives you some peace of mind knowing both the manufacturer and contractor have enough confidence in the product to extend a warranty for up to three years. This applies to a battery back-up as well.

 What to Look for in a Battery Back-up System

What should I look for in a battery back-up system? Again brand is important, can you trust the company?

Continuous Pumping Time

What is the continuous pumping time of the battery back-up. How long will the battery continuously pump water during a power outage? Look for between 6 and 9 hours as a bench mark.

User Friendly Control Box

What does the control box tell the consumer? We find that the single biggest reason a battery back-up system fails is the installing

battery back-up

This is a User Friendly Control Box

contractor fails to emphasize the importance of filling the dry cell marine battery or the control box provided doesn’t have an alarm telling the customer to fill the battery. Ask if this is a feature provided on the back up unit.

The Battery is Important

What type of battery is provided with the back-up unit? Is it a car battery, deep cycle battery, dry cell stand-by batteries or a sealed maintenance free battery? Stand-by batteries designed to be drained and recharged will outperform a car or deep cycle battery. Sealed maintenance free batteries are great because you can forget about them for awhile however they provide about 20% less pumping life.

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