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How Important Is an Emergency Backup Sump Pump?

A sump pump is frontline appliance that helps keep your home safe from water damage.

It acts as the first line of defense against water leaks and natural flooding. A sump pump will work when it’s needed even before you’re aware of the problem. If at all possible you want to avoid free flowing water in your home, so adding an emergency backup sump pump is also an excellent idea.

As we’ve discussed before, water damage can be tremendously destructive if it’s not addressed in time. It’s also expensive to remediate, and, unfortunately, it’s often not covered by insurance. Because water damage is so common – it is the second most common homeowner’s insurance claim – insurance companies have gotten creative about what is and is not covered. Water damage from natural flooding is often not covered at all. In many geographic locations, people can’t even buy that kind of coverage from an insurer because the risk is too great. For other risks, like sudden or accidental discharge or sewer backup, every homeowner should consult his insurance provider for specifics and buy additional coverage if necessary.

Many homes already have sump pumps. Every home with a wet basement should have a sump pump ready to go into action in the event of rising water. Often homeowners will add an emergency backup sump pump to the sump pump as a way of further mitigating risk.


Why Should You Add an Emergency Backup Sump Pump?

Isn’t one sump pump enough? Why would you need a backup? An emergency backup sump pump is a further line of defense for when flooding and the loss of electricity go together such as during a large storm. Sump pumps run on electricity, and if electric lines go out, they will not operate. Emergency sump pumps will, however, because they are powered either by city water or batteries.

Water powered emergency sump pumps will activate automatically if the primary sump pump fails. They convert city water into a high velocity stream that creates a low pressure vacuum. This vacuum draws sump water into an ejector nozzle where it is released by the sump. Water powered sumps use a lot of water to operate, so in drier areas they are not ideal. They are very reliable and do not require much maintenance, but they do need a water supply pressure of 20 psi or more to operate.

This type of sump needs to have a new water line and a separate drain line as well as backflow prevention to prevent potable water contamination, but it will run without power as long as necessary. There are two types of water powered emergency sump pumps: above sump and in sump. The in-sump sump pump is immersed in the drain water, while the above-sump sump pump is above the sump.

Battery powered emergency sump pumps run on a separate (battery) power source. They are installed next to the primary pump and have a separate switch. When there is rising water, they automatically activate. A battery powered sump pump has an alarm that goes off when it is in use or when the battery power is low. Of course, the battery must be adequately charged for it to work during an emergency. These type of emergency backup sump pumps are easy to install, but the battery power must be regularly checked. The battery terminals should also be cleaned regularly and the battery replaced every few years.

Many homeowners also install alarms so that they can be notified if there is rising water, a power loss, or a change in temperature – either by the alarm itself or by message via their smartphone. These alarms have sensors that detect water and activate the alarm. This gives the homeowner a heads up before damage occurs. This is another layer of home protection on top of a sump pump and an emergency backup sump pump.

We at Lake Michigan Mechanical install all of the above for our customers: sump pumps, emergency backup sump pumps, and alarm systems. If you would like the peace of mind of knowing that your sump pump system will operate even if the power goes out during a storm, an emergency backup sump pump is your answer. Call us today to talk about how you can reduce the risk of water damage in your home.