We hear this question often from homeowners who are looking at their finished basements and realizing the risk of having a single mechanical sump pump to protect their belongings from flood damage. They know that as soon as their single pump, or the power it’s connected to stops, the flooding can begin.
Quality backup sump pump systems range from $1,000 to $4,500 installed. When choosing a system for your home there are a variety of factors to consider. The decisions you make for each will affect how much your backup sump pump will cost.
How much water your backup is able to pump is important because a backup sump pump is supposed to step in and take over the duty of keeping your basement dry when your primary pump is unable to perform. If your primary pump has 50 gallon per minute (GPM) pumping power during the worst storms, does it make sense to have a 35 GPM backup? Matching pumping volume might require you to buy a bigger backup, but during the worst storms when the power fails do you really want to rely on a smaller backup pump to keep you dry?
When you shop for a backup sump pump make sure you notice what is and is not included. You can find all kinds of backup sump pump systems at do-it-yourself places like Lowe’s and Home Depot. But keep in mind that the initial price of their systems usually does not include many important add-ons to make it a complete system. For example, these systems rarely include a battery or discharge piping with a check valve. Big Box stores don’t typically offer turn-key solutions because they are geared to move product off their shelves. They’re going to price things individually so you’re more likely to put them in your basket. It won’t be until you’re at their register that you’ll get an idea of the complete price of your backup sump pump system. And it still won’t include the cost of installation.
If you’re handy, you’ll save a little money installing the backup sump pump yourself. But plan on at least half a day to install it once you get home from the store. Most backup sump pumps come with step-by-step instructions. It just takes time to assemble everything, pour the acid into the battery, and adjust the pumping settings. Plus you’ll have to run a new dedicated electrical outlet for the new backup so plan on the time and materials to do that electrical work. (Hopefully you have room in your electrical panel for another circuit breaker.) And make sure you stop off at the plumbing department to get PVC piping, primer and glue for the additional discharge you’ll need to connect.
Speaking of sump pump discharges, there are several things to consider. Each city has building codes on how they want you to discharge a sump pump. Learn the codes before installing one. Also keep in mind the size of the discharge pipe can either help or hurt your pump. Once you core through your wall to feed the discharge piping to the outside, (if that’s code in your town), make sure it dumps away from the Zone of Failure. Don’t be tempted to get a black vacuum cleaner type hose to extend the pipe, or it will render your pump useless when the pipe gets covered by snow and the water inside it freezes. Not to mention that having a hose lying in your grass is a tripping hazard.
Check the details of the warranty for the system you are considering. Depending on how it’s worded, you may have to pay more to get it fixed even under the warranty. For example: if your new system fails during the warranty period it may require you to go through the hassles of getting it uninstalled, and the expense of mailing it back to the manufacturer for repair or replacement. Make sure you check this because mechanical devices can fail prematurely. That’s why a warranty is included in the first place.
This is something most homeowners fail to consider when buying a backup sump pump. Will it fit in your existing basin? If your primary pump has a tethered switch, it needs a lot of clearance so the switch can work properly. But most of the basins put in by builders, especially in homes built before the 1990s, are too small to accommodate anything but a full size primary pump with a tethered switch. Remember this when you’re shopping because you may need to increase the size of your basin. If you do, replace it with an 18” wide one at a minimum.
Total Cost of Ownership
As you can see the total cost to buy and own a backup system depends on many factors guided by your needs. At U.S. Waterproofing we have a variety of systems to fit those needs in our B.O.S.S. (Battery Operated Sump System) line of backups. They range in price from $1,400 to $4,100 and have been proven reliable in our Sump Pump Research Center. They also include the cost of installation and a multi-year onsite service warranty. We’ve been installing pumps for pretty much our entire 59 years in business. Why not take advantage of our experience and expertise to help you select your system?
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