Do you have a backup?


Living in western NY, we’re used to snowy winters and wet springs.  It doesn’t have to be snowy for the ground to become saturated.  Unless you’re lucky enough to live on a hill, most people have a sump pump in their basement to prevent water from backing up into the foundation.

A few weeks ago my daughter went down to the basement to play video games and a few seconds later yelled up there was water in the basement.  “Water!” always instills panic until an assessment can be made to the extent of the damage.  Normally my kids live in the basement.  It’s not finished, but there’s enough amenities they spend lots of time there.  For some reason, for the couple of days prior they hadn’t really gone down there much. We did have a water alarm in the basement but my husband had been working on modifying it  to use a power cord instead of having it eat expensive batteries and it had been in our kitchen for a month.

We quickly determined there was water about 3/4″ deep in one quarter of the basement and the wet area was expanding.  We’ve had water there before so most items are up off the floor or in plastic totes to protect them.  My husband quickly realized the sump pump had failed.  We detected a burnt smell coming from the motor. Since it was 15 minutes before Home Depot would close and we  lived 10 minutes away he rushed off to grab a new one.  Luckily he managed to get in the door two minutes before they closed and grabbed a new pump.

My husband worked quickly to assemble the pump and get it working to pump the water out.  About 10 minutes after it started working it started making funny noises and the pumping seemed to slow down significantly.  Luckily by then a good amount of the water had been sent out of the house.  Neither one of us felt confident the pump would make it through the night.  We called a friend who has a backup pump and I went and picked it up as a plan B.  We went to bed holding out hope the water would stay below floor level.

When we got up in the morning it quickly became apparent we would need to use the backup plan.  We sunk the pump in the crock and snaked the hose out the window.  My husband took the new pump apart to see if he could figure out what failed figuring maybe he could fix it. He decided it was a poor design and wasn’t surprised it broke and he wouldn’t be buying another of the same model.  He also took a look at our old pump to see if it was salvageable.

In short, here’s what happened:

  • He managed to buy a new switch for the old pump (for less than $20) and it’s working great.
  • He bought a new wired water alarm ($13) instead of trying to jury rig something on his own.  It was well worth the few extra dollars.
  • We bought a second, cheap submersible pump from Harbor Freight (about $50 with the 20% off coupon) in case of another failure.
  • My husband’s still considering installing a water driven pump that would still work in the case a power outage.

Luckily we had no lasting damage from the mini flood, but now we have piece of mind because we have a backup.

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