Flooded basement sump pump

Wet Basement Floor

If you have a home that has a sump pump you may be familiar with that humming sound that happens every so often. You may also lie awake at night during the spring months worried when you don’t hear it. If this is you then you may want to ask yourself this question: what am I going to do when my sump pump fails? Sump pumps have a lifespan. A sump pump will last between 5-10 years depending on how often its used. The problem is, your pump won’t let you know when it’s dead. There’s no announcement, just a basement full of water.

Step one would be to test your sump pump periodically to make sure it’s still working. To test your pump all you need to do is lift the float up to see if it turns on. Pumps generally have three styles of switches on them. The first style is a  switch that is in a float that is tethered to the unit. You will need to lift this style switch almost vertical before it will turn on your pump. The second is a pump that has a float that travels up and down on a rod. The third switch is a pressure switch. To test the pressure switch model you would need to add water to the sump basket in order to turn it on. (Check out the slide show below for examples of these pumps.)

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Now that you know that your primary pump works you are going to want to consider what could happen if and when that pump fails or when you lose power (like during a heavy storm). The safest bet is to have a back-up system installed. That way, if your pump fails, there is something in place to save your basement man cave. A back-up unit is installed above the primary pump and will engage only if the water level reaches its switch. There are essentially two options when it comes to back-up systems. There is the battery back-up and the city water powered Sump Jet.

First I will talk about the battery back-up unit. A battery back up unit obviously works off of a battery. It uses a car battery sized battery that will need to be replaced about every four years. A battery back-up will run for about 7-8 hours before the battery runs out of juice. In other words, if your power is out for more than 8 hours you will be bailing out your basement. Also, if you happen to be out-of-town for a week and your sump fails the battery back-up unit won’t even give you a full day help.

battery back up sump pump

The other option is to have a Liberty Sump Jet back-up sump pump put in. This unit is powered by your city water so it takes no electricity to run. For every gallon of city water that is run through it, 2-3 gallons of water are pumped out of your sump basket. The downfall of this unit is that water lines will have to be run to it in order to power it. You also have to check with your municipalities for code issues with running the water lines. In some cities back flow check valves have to be installed in-line to prevent contamination of the water system. In other words a licensed professional plumber should be the one installing this particular pump. This unit along with a check valve and copper pipe to supply it end up being about the same cost in terms of materials as a lower end battery back up unit.

Liberty water powered back up sump pump

water powered back up sump pump by Liberty available at LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware


Check out this link to a news piece that we did on back -up sump pumps. Here’s a video of another news piece we did on sump pumps and back-ups:


For more information on sump pumps check out these other blogs: What to do for a frozen sump pump discharge line, Product Highlight Liberty Sump Jet, Sump pumps for a flooded basement

For all of the products mentioned above go to LeVahn Bros. Hardware Hank

Located at 12700 Bass Lake Road Maple Grove, Mn 55369

To contact us call 763-551-8990

Visit us on the web at levahnbros.com

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