Sump Pump , whats my best solution for power failure

We just had a french drain system put in the house about 3 months ago. We did this because water came up from the water table and through the basement floor and flooded about 1/3 of the basement about 2 inches thick...anyways, we only see water typucally during the srping thaw, but as I write this MA is going through a heavy rain cycle, supposed to last a couple days....anyways, the french drain is working great (here is a video of my setup working, http://www.nickduda.com/fdrain.wmv ). The pit fills up in about 30-40 seconds, and the pump send the water out in about 10 seconds...I got a powerful pump fromt he install company. I decided to not go with a battery backup solution at the time of install, it was like 500 bucks more.
Since the french drain was put in, I've fully finsihed the basement off with a new set of stairs and carpet. The more i sit here tonight i worry what i would do if i lost power... i mean the pump has been working for last 5 hours....on for 10 seconds, off for 40 seconds....repeats cycle. What should I do? Generator? Battery back? If so is this somethign i can do or should I pay someone to do it. Because my system runs so nice now, and we dont have any water issues unless a HEAVY HEAVY rain or the spring thaw i'm not to worries about my pump failing (i continue to test it even when its not in use)....but i worry about a power failure, granted we barely get them.
Thoughts?
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I installed a "basement watchdog" brand after a power-falure scare (water was right up to the top of the sump when the power came back on). It claims that it can run continuously for 24 hours. Since my pump would never need to run continuously (it can clear the sump in about 30 seconds) I should get several days out of it.
I've never needed it for an emergency yet, but it was very cheap insurance (about $150, installed myself). Since it's a completely separate pump, it will also work if my main pump has mechanical failure.
The water-based backup systems weren't a good option as my sump isn't anywhere near a water line. I also didn't like the idea of wasting all that good water, plus I've heard horror stories where people actually flooded their basements with city water when a check valve failed...
-Tim
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Water backup pumps have a float on them just like any other pump does. They do not run all the time so there is no significant water loss.

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From the research I did, the pumps are a lot less efficient (that is, they don't remove nearly as much groundwater) as the battery-backed up pumps. That means it runs more often, and while it's running, it's like having the hose spiggot left on (that is, wasted water).
But as I noted, my real issue was I don't have a water line anywhere near the sump. It's on the other end of our finished lower level from anything that uses water.
-Tim
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Tim Fischer wrote:

You may want to consider that most, if not all, battery powered pumps are lower volume than the standard pumps most people have. That means it will need to run longer to do the same job. Of course lower power means the battery will last longer, but the ultimate result is that it likely will handle you usual problems and will offer more protection than not having it. It also can be useful when you still have power but the regular pump fails.
I did have my original pump fail (also sensors and switches can fail) and I was lucky enough to happen to look in the sump and notice the water level was up. I now have a new much quieter and higher capacity pump than the original contractor special.

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Joseph Meehan

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My backup pump is about 1/2 has efficient (water removal wise) as my main pump. Even in the worst conditions (since I've been here 3 years ago) my main pump has never run more than about 15 seconds every 10 minutes or so. So conditions would have to get MUCH worse for me to worry about backup capacity.
-Tim
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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote:

Consider these ideas.
Battery back up only works as long as the battery will power it. Pumps draw a lot of power if they pump much water. Generally batteries will fail during any extended outage.
Generators will work, as long as you are around to make sure they stay running as needed. Be careful not to run it inside. People who have done so, don't always live to tell about it.
Water powered pumps are available where there is city water. Most don't pump a great deal of water, but will work as long as you have water pressure. Some can be set to turn on by themselves as needed.
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Joseph Meehan

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yea, ive seen all these talked about on google groups....but not sure which would be best for me....i read about someone thats pump was going for 6 hours without even stopping.... i mean thats nuts...and i only have to worry about this during a storm really since thats the only time water tahble rises for me....what im getting at is that maybe 4-6 times a year the water table rises to the point where the basement would flood , but with the french drain it appears to have fixed that, as today is showing. Would a battery backup be the best bet?....or better yet, which of those 3 options is the cheapest, without loosing any reliablity. I just want to keep my finsihed basemnet finsihed...i just spent about 7k in doing so.
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" Would a battery backup be the best bet?....or better yet, which of those 3 options is the cheapest, without loosing any reliablity. I just want to keep my finsihed basemnet finsihed...i just spent about 7k in doing so. "
LOL That reminds me of a sign a guy had at work on his office door a long time ago:
Good Fast Cheap
Pick any two.
As Joseph pointed out, a battery backup only lasts as long as the battery will last. You just told us that your pump is currently running 10 mins out of every 50 mins right now, during a heavy rain storm. That's 20% of the time, a pretty hefty duty cycle, a lot more than a typical sump pump would run. And you said the most water occurs in the spring. You can go get specs on the battery backup units and figure out how long the protection will last, depending on the battery size. My guess is, you'd be looking at several hours.
Is that enough? Well, that's up to you and how much risk you want to take, how likely it is the power will go off and how long it will take for it to come back on. I'd take a hard look at the water powered units that Joseph also recommended. If you can get one that can turn on by itself, that would provide an unlimited solution, assuming of course that you have municipal water. The only concern I can think of is how reliable are they? In particular, you don't want it to come on accidentally and run constantly while you're away for a week. That could run up a big water bill.
A generator is certainly an option. For minimal cost you could get a manual start one and just plug the pump into it if needed. That assumes that someone is there to do it. Or you could get a natural gas powered unit with an automatic transfer switch that comes on automatically, capable of powering a good portion of the rest of the house too, but that is going to cost thousands of dollars.
Finally, I'll tell you this, which you may not want to hear. And that is that just about all basements that I've seen with a pump that runs 20% of the time during a heavy rain, wind up having some kind of moisture and/or water problem sooner or later anyway. IMO, finishing these basements is just asking for more trouble.
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If you want the ultimate protection, you go for all three methods at the same time, as one single solution may not work/may not be set-up/may not last long enough/may not have the capacity. With three methods, you have back-ups to the back-up and believe me at those times when problems happen -- you will need it. I always keep a submergible back-up sump pump on hand, and a second one in case the first back-up fails, I also have a water powered back-up pump installed in my sump plus a generator. As I have a lot of power tools, a finished basement with entertainment equipment and a full home office in the basement. I cannot afford to have a flood.

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basementbuddy.com Its a water powered backup pump. price is not cheap

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In my old house I had a battery powered backup on my sump pump. Then we had a major ice storm and the water came in too fast for the battery powered pump AND a gasoline powered pump. Got 5' of water. I installed a second sump, a second sump pump, and put a water powered back up on it; AND got a generator.
If that doesn't seem paranoid enough, I moved to a house where the sump pump hadn't cycled once on 12 years.
Now for you... I recommend a battery powered backup and a generator. I would also have a replacement sump pump on the shelf just in case. Paranoid? Well we've already established that; but I have doubts about any backup handling your water for very long; so you really need to keep your main pump working. The backup is to handle it until you get the generator working or if no one is home, or if it breaks and you have to replace it. (I just got my basement pumped out and my sump pump broke! Fortunately I had a spare.) I don't like the water powered pumps I have installed; they seem like junk. Hopefully the expensive ones are better, but I haven't seen those.
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Ok so I've taken in all the info ...
Again, I see water into the pit only during a heavy heavy rain cycle, like last night....it stopped raining about 3 hours ago, but thepit is still filling and pumping out, the cycle gets shorter each time, so the water is coming to a halt under the foundation. The only other time i see water is during the spring thaw, when all the snow melts ....typically this is over a couple days. I'd say my pump would be working for about 5-6 days roughly a year....I dont have a huge water problem, just a minor one that caused the previous owner to not spend the $ for a french drain.
I think I will go with a battery backup to control the pump while we are not home, then purchase another backup pump in the event my primary dies, along with a generator to keep it going if we had a power failure.
Also, the place that put my french drain in has a warranty against all equiptment i bought, not sure what it was, probably like 2 years or something. I've read that sump pumps have come a long way as far as reliablity and what not....my concern isnt that I wont have a pump workign when i need it, but rather no power (then again i think i lost power at my house maybe 2-3 times in the last 2 year for about 10-20 seconds each time).
Thanks all for your responses...it feels nice to have a new area in my house now to live in...i'd just like to keep it livable.
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consider a large UPS to plug in your main pump
I have a car battery and a large inverter mounted in a box, handy for power failures even when its not raining
also have a small generator (NEVER RUN A GENERATOR INDOORS)
yes, I have to be here to connect the pump to the inverter and set up the generator.
Mark
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Standard sump pumps use an awfully lot of juice (10A is common). It would be much cheaper to put in a separate battery-backed up pump than buying a UPS that could handle this kind of current. And that gives you the added peace-of-mind of having a second pump if something happens to the main one...
As I noted elsewhere in this thread, I installed a Basement Watchdog for well under $200 (may have even been $150). Works great. Occasionally I test it by unplugging the main pump and sticking around until it runs (it alerts you with an audible beep when it does -- and you have to reset it before it quits beeping).
The only thing I did that you might want to do differently is that I output the backup pump to the same pipe as the main pump (each pump has its own check valve). This was mainly due to plumbing considerations: The pipe goes through a crawlspace, through the garage, then runs underground for about 150' into our pond. But if possible, it would be best to have two completely independant pumps with their own waste lines. I'm safe as far as pump failure, but if the line clogs or a check valve blows, I still have issues...
-Tim
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"Standard sump pumps use an awfully lot of juice (10A is common). It would be much cheaper to put in a separate battery-backed up pump than buying a UPS that could handle this kind of current. And that gives you the added peace-of-mind of having a second pump if something happens to the main one...
As I noted elsewhere in this thread, I installed a Basement Watchdog for well under $200 (may have even been $150). Works great. Occasionally I test it by unplugging the main pump and sticking around until it runs (it alerts you with an audible beep when it does -- and you have to reset it before it quits beeping).
The only thing I did that you might want to do differently is that I output the backup pump to the same pipe as the main pump (each pump has its own check valve). This was mainly due to plumbing considerations: The pipe goes through a crawlspace, through the garage, then runs underground for about 150' into our pond. But if possible, it would be best to have two completely independant pumps with their own waste lines. I'm safe as far as pump failure, but if the line clogs or a check valve blows, I still have issues... "
All excellent advice. The discharge pipe is something that is often overlooked and can be a consideration especially depending on where it goes. For a basement like being discussed here, I would definitely have a second pump installed to turn on slightly higher than the main one. And I think making it one of the water driven ones, with a seperate discharge, is likely the way to go.
Just thought of one additional question for the OP. Does the current install have a check valve in the discharge line? If not, water in the line could be running back into the sump pit and that could be a reason the pump cycles back on so quickly.
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