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Battery Backup Sump Pumps: When Thunderstorms Leave You Powerless

Jul 2, 2012 • By Matthew Stock with Andy Bruchman.

Battery Backup Sump Pumps: When Thunderstorms Leave You Powerless

It’s coming.  You know it is; you can feel it.  We’re due for one of those gully-washing summer thunderstorms with winds that take out trees and power lines.   Even smaller storms that affect only a limited area can crash the somewhat shaky power grid that exists in Chicago, Milwaukee and elsewhere in the area.

Examples?  The relatively isolated storm this past weekend knocked out power for 250,000 households in the western suburbs of Chicago.  Just last week, power failed at Midway Airport, cancelling nearly 100 flights and stranding thousands of travelers.  And, if you want to see what can happen when the “big one” hits, take a look at the East Coast where the homes without power number in the millions.

As for our recent thunderstorm history, look back no further than last July, when severe thunderstorms with hurricane-force winds left nearly a million people in the Chicago area without power, some for days, even weeks.  It was the largest power outage in our history that resulted from a storm.

What Happens to my Home when Power Fails?

Well, you’ll likely be bored and hot – there’ll be no TV, no lights, no air conditioning.  These are only inconveniences; lasting damage to your home can occur if the power failure immobilizes your sump pump and storm water has nowhere to go besides all over your basement floor.

“But I have a generator,” you say.  Good planning on your part but, unless you dug deep in your pockets for a very costly whole-house generator, your unit is probably capable of handling only a circuit or two. How many people think far enough ahead to include their sump pump’s circuit on a generator with limited capacity and forego the refrigerator or the air conditioning?  Even if your sump pump is on a generator circuit that won’t help if it suffers mechanical failure.

Let’s face it, most people don’t think about their sump pump very much – until it fails.  A failed sump pump during a major thunderstorm can spell disaster for your home.  If you have a finished basement, a dead sump pump can end up costing you thousands of dollars, the amount it will take to replace carpet or flooring, remove and replace soaked drywall and maybe even to replace ruined furniture.  Even in an unfinished basement, the losses can be major, with stored goods, washers and dryers and power tools all vulnerable to being destroyed by water.

What Can I do to Prevent Basement Water Seepage during a Storm?

Well, you could up the ante on that generator but, before you take out a second mortgage to pay for it, consider the much easier and more economical alternative of installing a battery backup sump pump.

Although most of us refer to “battery” backup sump pumps, there are actually two kinds – those that use a battery only and those that use an AC/DC power system.  Here’s how they differ:

A battery-only backup sump pump is designed to step in when your primary sump pump fails due to a power outage.  It takes over the task of removing storm water from the sump basin and, depending on the type of battery used, will run from 24 to 72 hours.  These pumps are great for power outages and can save you not only the cost but the work and aggravation of repairing water damage in your basement.

An AC/DC backup sump pump will also function solely on battery power during an outage, just like the battery-only pump.  However, the dual-power variety will also assist your primary pump when the volume of incoming water overwhelms its capacity and the power stays on.  These pumps are great for sustained periods of rainy weather or mega-storms like last July’s. They also extend the life of your primary pump by preventing the frequent recycling that kills electric motors.

So, when you see those dark clouds gather and the cat’s hair is standing on end, think about what can happen to your basement while you’re running out to close the car windows.  A backup sump pump can relieve you of one more worry, so why not set your mind at ease?  At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve installed thousands of backup sump pumps and our customers can rest assured that a passing thunderstorm won’t endanger their basements.  Why not ask for our free advice on how a backup sump pump can protect your home during the worst weather the Midwest has to offer?

Tags: backup sump systems, sump pumps, battery backup sump pumps

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