Every winter and spring we get calls about failed sump pumps. Thawing snow coupled with some rain showers can put a real strain on your pump. Throughout the month we’ve seen stories of storm-related power outages that have affected neighborhoods and cities of northeast Ohio. It seems that winter power outages are becoming more common.
Let’s be honest, a sump pump is pretty easy to ignore. If it’s working right, you’re not ever going to think about it. But be assured, this can lead to trouble, so this post is about why you should have a sump pump battery backup. Doing so can help make sure your sump pump survives the freezing and thawing, the rain and the sleet, and the power outages that come with stormy weather.
Battery Backup Sump Pumps
A sump pump draws electricity from your house circuits. So when you lose power, the sump pump stops working. Even if your power is only out a couple of hours, you could end up with a flooded basement – it happens all the time.
The battery backup sump pump has a heavy-duty battery attached. Usually it is installed in addition to, not replacing, your existing sump pump.
The battery is kept charged so that when your house or business loses power, the battery automatically activates the sump pump.
What you have is a two-stage system that can handle an electrical emergency. Under normal conditions, the plugged-in sump pump does its work; during power outages, the battery backup sump pump kicks in.
Can you install it yourself?
It’s certainly possible for a skilled amateur to install a battery backup sump pump, but you need to observe a few cautions:
- Consider putting the battery in its own protective case, up on a wall-mounted shelf, well above any possible high water
- Make sure the circuit for the sump pump and its battery charger can handle both the continuous draw and the sudden amperage increase when the pump comes on
- Never use extension cords for either the sump pump or battery charger
- You may need to hire an electrician to provide a dedicated circuit for the sump pump.
- Remember, you are dealing with both water and electricity; if you do not know what you are doing, please hire a professional.
Battery backup for an existing sump pump
Now it is possible to add a battery backup system to your existing sump pump. Here the device acts as a sensor between the household electrical supply and your sump pump.
You plug the sump pump into the battery backup unit, then permanently wire battery cables from your battery into the unit, which provides a trickle charge to the battery. When the power goes out, the sensor will draw from the battery to keep the pump running. Bear in mind that this wall-mounted system will have to be close enough that the original cord from your sump pump reaches it, and the battery needs to be mounted within cable-length.
Now if you choose to go this route, you’ll have to replace the batter every three years or so. As a battery trickle charges, recharging becomes less and less efficient. A good battery can easily be around $100 or more.
Be safe! Hand it Over to The Plumbing Source
Obviously, you have options when it comes to making sure your sump pump works even when the power is out. The easiest way to solve your battery backup dilemma is to hire a trusted professional with years of experience installing, maintaining and repairing sump pumps.
That’s where we come in! Call The Plumbing Source to learn more about servicing and/or replacing your worn-out sump pump, and be sure to ask about having a batter backup in place. You’ll be glad you did!