A backup sump pump helps keep your home flood-free in the event of a power outage. Many people use a battery backup sump pump, which is a pump that works on battery power in case when you have an outage. Another option that you have available if you’re on municipal water to look at the water powered sump pump backup systems that are available, sometimes called “water based” sump pumps.
This type of backup system won’t work for you if you have well water because you need to have the water pressure that comes from municipal water. Since a well pump won’t work during a power outage you won’t have any water pressure for this type of sump pump to run on. In addition, you also need to be sure that the pressure will be maintained during an outage. Otherwise the water-powered system will not work.
How Do Water-Powered Backup Sump Pump Systems Work?
This type of pump works by using the Venturi effect. Giovanni Battista Venturi was an Italian physicist who lived from 1746–1822. Here’s how the Venturi effect works in the context of a water powered sump pump:
You municipal water supply has pressure. When the water flows through a constricted area and this increases the speed of the water flow. This in turn causes a pressure reduction. And the pressure reduction is what sucks the water from your sump pit, which is discharged outside of your basement.
Water-Powered vs Battery Backup Sump Pumps
Water-powered units have some advantages over battery backup pumps. First, you don’t have to worry about it running out of power. Battery-powered units have a limited time frame in which they can work since you’re depending on the battery life to keep your home from flooding. You can get an additional battery to help prolong your pumping time if you experience an extended power outage, which is an additional expense and maintenance chore.
This brings us to the next point. With battery backups, you have to make sure your battery is charged and if you have a spare battery then you’ll need to keep an eye on it as well, so you know everything is ready to go with a full charge when you need them. And you never know when that’s going to be.
With water-powered units, you have an unlimited amount of time since all you need is water pressure coming from your municipal system. As we mentioned earlier, water-powered units are not an option for you if you’re on well water. And when the system is running, it will use your water and run up your bill, although it’s mere pennies compared to the expensive damage it prevents in your home.
Factoring in the unit itself plus the battery, the battery backups are generally more expensive to purchase. But the water-powered pumps will have a cost-of-ownership factor since you pay for the water that they run on.
However, you will need to replace batteries in a battery-powered system from time to time, and this can vary depending on the quality of battery you purchase, and other factors. So there’s a cost-of-ownership factor there as well.
One of the nice things about the water-powered pumps is that they have so few moving parts or components to break or wear down over time. The main component to these things is physics!
How Is It Installed?
These units are installed above the primary sump pump at the ceiling. You have to cut into your cold water line and run pipe to connect the water backup pump. Then you will connect the existing discharge pipe to the backup unit by running new pipe. Here’s the more detailed how-to info from This Old House.
What Are The Best Water-Powered Units To Look At?
These are some of the best-rated water-powered sump pump backup systems on the market, covering different price ranges. All have excellent reviews and are from trusted, established brands.
Basepump HB1000 Water Powered Backup Sump Pump with Water Alarm
This unit has a higher pumping capacity than some of the other water powered pumps and it comes with a battery-powered high water alarm. It installs at the ceiling level above the primary pump. Installation of this pump takes about three hours.
In order to make sure that your home has enough water pressure to run this pump, you should perform the pressure test that the manufacturer recommends. Take a five-gallon bucket to your outside spigot and fill the bucket without a hose. If you can fill the bucket in less than 30 seconds then you have sufficient pressure for this pump to work. Also note that if you have a frost-proof spigot, a water filter, or water softener, then the test results won’t be accurate. If your pressure is adequate then your pumping capability with the HB1000 is going to be 1000 – 1400 GPH. (Gallons per hour.) The minimum pressure is 40 psi. It comes with a 5-year warranty. Here’s a link to the installation guide so you can see what’s involved.
Basepump HB1000-PRO Premium High Volume Water Powered Backup Sump Pump with Water Alarm
This is the same higher capacity pump as above but this one comes with some additional components as an upgrade. These include: brass dual check valve, brass shutoff valve, brass push-fit male adapter, brass push-fit tee. The PRO model gives you these components at a price that beats what you would find buying them individually. You just need to make sure that the dual check valve meets your local plumbing codes.
Zoeller 503-0005 Homeguard Max Water Powered Emergency Backup Pump System
The Zoeller 503-0005 is a lower-priced unit than the Basepump HB1000 above, and it may be ideal if your pumping needs are lower. This one can remove up to 20 gallons per minute. Since it is water powered, it uses water to remove water, and this one removes up to two gallons for every gallon used.
Even though Zoeller is one of the best brand names in the business, this unit is the lowest rated of the four pumps that we’re listing here. It’s good, it’s just not the best of this bunch. The Zoeller unit comes with a one-year warranty.
Liberty Sump Pump – Jet Water-Powered Back up Sump Pump # SJ10
With the Liberty Sump Pump – Jet Water-Powered Back up Sump Pump # SJ10, you have an affordable solution with a 4.3 star rating (out of 5) as of this writing. For every gallon water it uses, it removes about two gallons. If you get the Liberty SJ10 you should have a trouble-free backup system in place for years to come. It’s assembled right out of the box and has a 3-year warranty. Needs at least 20 psi water pressure for it to work.
A backup sump pump is an essential home protection component in homes with flooding issues. With flooding conditions, such as during heavy storms, you often see power outages. A power outage will cause your primary sump pump to stop running, which means you need to have another pump standing by ready to take over. A water-powered sump pump can give you the peace-of-mind of knowing that your property will be protected, and unlike battery-powered backups you won’t have to worry about running out of battery power. During these critical times, water powered units really can save you from catastrophe.