Sump pump and power outage

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dm200
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Sump pump and power outage

Post by dm200 » Sat Jan 28, 2017 3:07 pm

Some friends of ours in our neighborhood (of very modest means) own a house with a basement sump pump to deal with preventing water damage in the basement. A few years ago, they sustained some damage when the power was out for several days.

They are getting the damage repaired, but are concerned that (although unlikely) there might be a repeat of several days of power outage. I believe (although not 100% sure) backup power or a generator would probably be (very) expensive. Are there any low cost ways of dealing with the sump pump power loss risk?

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by student » Sat Jan 28, 2017 3:09 pm


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Sheepdog
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by Sheepdog » Sat Jan 28, 2017 3:13 pm

Battery backup powered sump pumps are available at most stores like Lowes, Menards, Home Depot, etc. They are not overly expensive I.e. Home Depot is advertising on line $140. www.homedepot.com/p/Basement-Watchdog-E ... /100055241 I have several neighbors with them.
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mortfree
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by mortfree » Sat Jan 28, 2017 3:25 pm

If they have public water there is a device they can have a plumber install that will still work during a power outage.

Water powered backup sump pump

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by pshonore » Sat Jan 28, 2017 3:36 pm

You don't need a large generator to run a sump pump. Probably less than $500. This assumes you are home to start it, plug it in and refill the gas tank.

Battery powered ones are also available; not sure how long they run without a recharge.

Water powered sump pumps are available but do use a large amount of water (which you have to dispose of). I have a couple of antique ones from the 1920s that are copper and brass; they're kind of neat. Spouse uses them as "garden ornaments"

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just frank
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by just frank » Sat Jan 28, 2017 3:40 pm

I have a finished basement and my house is at the bottom of a 1/2 acre funnel shaped hill pointed at my house. :shock:

I got a battery backup sump (which is automatic) for <$200, discussed upthread. It can run for many hours. They are a PITA, with needing to add water every 6 months to the battery, replace the battery every 5 years, etc. But so much nicer than a flood (we had three of those)

I also got a $100 generator, like this one:
http://www.harborfreight.com/900-peak70 ... 60338.html

which required another $50 worth of stuff like jerry cans, oil, parts, extension cords, etc.

The generator is able to run the regular (1/3 HP) sump pump by itself, or when the sump isn't needed, it can run my refrigerator, some LED lights, my wifi, laptops and portable electronics.

We have had multiple, multi-day outages since then, and the little $100 generator has provided all needed power for my family for a total of 8 days so far. We cook on a small propane camp stove (or the outdoor grill), and get backup space heat from a wood stove.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by Jim180 » Sat Jan 28, 2017 4:32 pm

Some of the suggestions already mentioned may work but it depends on factors. The battery back-up idea may work if the water comes in very slowly. If it comes in fast a battery will quickly lose its power. I lived in an old home once where the sump pump had to run every 15-30 minutes depending on how moist the ground was. A battery backup would never last for days at that rate. The gas generator idea might be OK if you can get a decent amount of run time on a tank of gas. It's not much fun to get out of bed in the middle of the night to put more gas in the generator. They should perhaps look at getting a special rider put in their Homeowner's Insurance which covers some damage from water backup due to sump pump failure. I think my policy covered up to $5,000 of damage. If someone lives in an area that gets frequent power outages that can last for many hours or even a few days then my advice would be to somehow find the money to pay for a Generac generator. They're not cheap though (probably $2000+).

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by Epsilon Delta » Sat Jan 28, 2017 5:03 pm

Jim180 wrote:Some of the suggestions already mentioned may work but it depends on factors. The battery back-up idea may work if the water comes in very slowly. If it comes in fast a battery will quickly lose its power. I lived in an old home once where the sump pump had to run every 15-30 minutes depending on how moist the ground was. A battery backup would never last for days at that rate.


Every 15-30 minutes is quite moderate. A 100AHr deep cycle battery should have the energy to remove something like 30,000 gallons, and would probably be good for several weeks. Now if your pump runs every minute you'd have a problem.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by Yooper » Sat Jan 28, 2017 5:08 pm

just frank wrote:
I also got a $100 generator, like this one:
http://www.harborfreight.com/900-peak70 ... 60338.html



Not to derail the thread, but how loud is that little guy? Loud enough if it was just outside your (closed) window it would drive you nuts or bearable? Was thinking about it for a small cabin to run lights at night and turning off when we went to bed.

cusetownusa
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by cusetownusa » Sat Jan 28, 2017 6:22 pm

mortfree wrote:If they have public water there is a device they can have a plumber install that will still work during a power outage.

Water powered backup sump pump


This is what I have.

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just frank
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by just frank » Sat Jan 28, 2017 10:54 pm

Yooper wrote:
just frank wrote:
I also got a $100 generator, like this one:
http://www.harborfreight.com/900-peak70 ... 60338.html



Not to derail the thread, but how loud is that little guy? Loud enough if it was just outside your (closed) window it would drive you nuts or bearable? Was thinking about it for a small cabin to run lights at night and turning off when we went to bed.


Hard to describe. Not that loud at low load, more of a rattly sound. My little guy on my front stoop is quieter (in my house) than the neighbors 3000W in his driveway. Got used to it when we had it going for days. OTOH, I would not take it camping or tailgating...its not that quiet.

TIP: it has a on-off valve in the fuel line. When you are going to put it into long term storage, you shut off the valve with it running, and it runs out all the gas in the carb and cylinder in about 30 seconds. Never a problem restarting after storage. Fancier gennies have a 'mothball' routine that looks like a pain, and that I feared I would skip.
Last edited by just frank on Sun Jan 29, 2017 8:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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just frank
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by just frank » Sat Jan 28, 2017 10:59 pm

Jim180 wrote:Some of the suggestions already mentioned may work but it depends on factors. The battery back-up idea may work if the water comes in very slowly. If it comes in fast a battery will quickly lose its power. I lived in an old home once where the sump pump had to run every 15-30 minutes depending on how moist the ground was. A battery backup would never last for days at that rate. The gas generator idea might be OK if you can get a decent amount of run time on a tank of gas. It's not much fun to get out of bed in the middle of the night to put more gas in the generator. They should perhaps look at getting a special rider put in their Homeowner's Insurance which covers some damage from water backup due to sump pump failure. I think my policy covered up to $5,000 of damage. If someone lives in an area that gets frequent power outages that can last for many hours or even a few days then my advice would be to somehow find the money to pay for a Generac generator. They're not cheap though (probably $2000+).


I wouldn't rely on the battery lasting for days during a maximum water scenario, like a multi-day outage and tropical storm (we've had a couple of those). I like mine b/c it is perfect for a more common occurrence...power goes out in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm. I wake up, but can go back to sleep without having to check the sump, or set up the genny. OR, I am at work and there is a storm/outage during the day. OR I am out of town for work, or the whole family is out of the house on vacation, etc. In the maximum scenario, the battery guy buys me time to get the genny set up, or time to refuel it, or change a spark-plug, etc.

Levett
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by Levett » Sun Jan 29, 2017 7:51 am

"Water powered backup sump pump"

Yep. Works great.

Batteries poop out. :annoyed

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just frank
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by just frank » Sun Jan 29, 2017 7:55 am

I have looked at the water powered guys, but heard that a lot of townships discouraged their use...if everyone did it, there would be a loss of city water during a major event.

Also, my city water costs something like a penny a gallon. Looks like 1 gallon city water will pump 2 gallons of pit water. Pumping a couple thousand gallons will cost over $100 on my next water bill.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by marstaton4 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 8:12 am

My parents had this issue and bought a $500ish 5500 watt generator which i encouraged them not to do. If it were me and depending on your vehicle situation I would consider getting a large 2000 watt or so inverter to easily handle the sump pumps or refrigerator etc... A quality inverter shouldn't have any problem keeping these going and a halfway decent vehicle should be able to idle indefinitely depending on fuel supply.

My concerns for the generator were you need to maintain them which is a total headache and cheap generators are likely unreliable. FYI my parents for whatever reason couldn't get their generator started during Hurricane Matthew and had some minor flooding. If you are determined to get a generator I would look into the Honda EU2000. Very quiet and reliable with low fuel consumption. The cheap generators are extremely noisy and I can't say enough bad things about them unless you need a lot of output and can handle the noise.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by hille141 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:41 am

This is what I have. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0070 ... UTF8&psc=1

It has two pumps. One pump runs off AC power, the other 12V DC, so it requires a deep cycle battery. It comes with a charger so the battery stays in the box and is always charged. It comes preassembled so very easy to install. Water powered ones may be an option for you. We are on a private well, no power, no water.

I recommend this check valve as well. https://www.amazon.com/CHECK-VALVE-CLR1 ... heck+valve

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samsoes
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by samsoes » Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:48 am

Here's what I have:

http://www.basementsystems.com/sump-pum ... esafe.html

Three pumps in one sump pit, one of which is battery-powered. In addition, I have a standby Generac generator - the two AC powered pumps are each on its own dedicated generator circuit.

I call it the "Belt, suspenders, and chastity belt technique." :happy

Edit to add: In addition, there are two exit lines from the sump pit. Added redundancy to protect against line clog. Each discharge line has the following feature in case both lines get clogged or jammed with ice: http://www.connecticutbasementsystems.c ... guard.html
Last edited by samsoes on Sun Jan 29, 2017 10:03 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by ljb1234 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:53 am

just frank wrote:I have looked at the water powered guys, but heard that a lot of townships discouraged their use...if everyone did it, there would be a loss of city water during a major event.

Also, my city water costs something like a penny a gallon. Looks like 1 gallon city water will pump 2 gallons of pit water. Pumping a couple thousand gallons will cost over $100 on my next water bill.


I have water powered backup. Since I have a finished basement, I would gladly pay $100 instead of flooding my basement.
There are several sump pump failure modes:
1. The power fails
2. The pump fails
3. Clog/obstruction in pump line

If you have a finished basement, a backup is good insurance.

bds3
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by bds3 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:59 am

Jim180 wrote:Some of the suggestions already mentioned may work but it depends on factors. The battery back-up idea may work if the water comes in very slowly. If it comes in fast a battery will quickly lose its power. I lived in an old home once where the sump pump had to run every 15-30 minutes depending on how moist the ground was. A battery backup would never last for days at that rate. The gas generator idea might be OK if you can get a decent amount of run time on a tank of gas. It's not much fun to get out of bed in the middle of the night to put more gas in the generator. They should perhaps look at getting a special rider put in their Homeowner's Insurance which covers some damage from water backup due to sump pump failure. I think my policy covered up to $5,000 of damage. If someone lives in an area that gets frequent power outages that can last for many hours or even a few days then my advice would be to somehow find the money to pay for a Generac generator. They're not cheap though (probably $2000+).


I had a battery powered backup sump pump. My basement is below the water level of an adjacent pond and in one particular very rainy outage my backup pump was running every 10 minutes or so. It lasted for 3 days until the power came back on. I'm not an electrical engineer but running for 10 seconds every 10 minutes isn't that much, apparently, for a deep cycle battery.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by Jim180 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 11:53 am

bds3 wrote:I had a battery powered backup sump pump. My basement is below the water level of an adjacent pond and in one particular very rainy outage my backup pump was running every 10 minutes or so. It lasted for 3 days until the power came back on. I'm not an electrical engineer but running for 10 seconds every 10 minutes isn't that much, apparently, for a deep cycle battery.

That's surprising to hear. I asked a plumber one time about a battery backup in the situation I was dealing with and he told me the battery wouldn't last in his opinion. I guess there are a lot of variables to battery life such as the size of pit and HP of sump pump. I had a deep pit and a 1/2HP sump pump. When my pump came on it had to run a lot longer than 10 seconds to drain the pit, probably at least 30 seconds. I know the Basement Watchdog battery backups sold at Home Depot come with only a 6 hr battery life and a very small pump. Those systems would definitely not work for moderate to severe water problems.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by neilpilot » Sun Jan 29, 2017 12:20 pm

Jim180 wrote:
bds3 wrote: I know the Basement Watchdog battery backups sold at Home Depot come with only a 6 hr battery life and a very small pump. Those systems would definitely not work for moderate to severe water problems.

If you look deeper into the Home Depot online information you will find a bit more information, including the following:

"If you use the 6 hour battery (Model #24EP6) it will run for 6 hours of continuous pumping or up to 50 hours of intermittent pumping. You can also use the larger size 7.5 hour battery (Model #30HDC140S) with that "BWE" system. Because that pump uses less battery power than our other large two backup system the larger battery will give you 12 hours of continuous pumping or around 100 hours of intermittent pumping.

In the Memphis area, sump pumps and basements are almost unheard-of.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by neilpilot » Sun Jan 29, 2017 12:20 pm

neilpilot wrote:
Jim180 wrote:
bds3 wrote: I know the Basement Watchdog battery backups sold at Home Depot come with only a 6 hr battery life and a very small pump. Those systems would definitely not work for moderate to severe water problems.

If you look deeper into the Home Depot online information you will find a bit more information, including the following:

"If you use the 6 hour battery (Model #24EP6) it will run for 6 hours of continuous pumping or up to 50 hours of intermittent pumping. You can also use the larger size 7.5 hour battery (Model #30HDC140S) with that "BWE" system. Because that pump uses less battery power than our other large two backup system the larger battery will give you 12 hours of continuous pumping or around 100 hours of intermittent pumping."

Where I line in the Memphis area, sump pumps and basements are almost unheard-of.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by Jim180 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 12:47 pm

neilpilot wrote:If you look deeper into the Home Depot online information you will find a bit more information, including the following:

"If you use the 6 hour battery (Model #24EP6) it will run for 6 hours of continuous pumping or up to 50 hours of intermittent pumping. You can also use the larger size 7.5 hour battery (Model #30HDC140S) with that "BWE" system. Because that pump uses less battery power than our other large two backup system the larger battery will give you 12 hours of continuous pumping or around 100 hours of intermittent pumping.

In the Memphis area, sump pumps and basements are almost unheard-of.

Yes, I've read the claims made by the manufacturer of Basement Watchdog but I'm always a bit skeptical about manufacturers claims. I'd like to read some objective reviews from someone like Consumer Reports. The biggest strain on a battery occurs when the pump starts because there is an initial surge of energy. When they claim 12 hours of continuous pumping and 100 hours of intermittent pumping do we know what size pump they were using and how often the pump was starting and stopping in their tests? I'm not saying the systems are totally useless but I'd be very uneasy about depending on a battery as my only defense against a flooded basement.

bds3
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by bds3 » Sun Jan 29, 2017 1:17 pm

Jim180 wrote:
bds3 wrote:I had a battery powered backup sump pump. My basement is below the water level of an adjacent pond and in one particular very rainy outage my backup pump was running every 10 minutes or so. It lasted for 3 days until the power came back on. I'm not an electrical engineer but running for 10 seconds every 10 minutes isn't that much, apparently, for a deep cycle battery.

That's surprising to hear. I asked a plumber one time about a battery backup in the situation I was dealing with and he told me the battery wouldn't last in his opinion. I guess there are a lot of variables to battery life such as the size of pit and HP of sump pump. I had a deep pit and a 1/2HP sump pump. When my pump came on it had to run a lot longer than 10 seconds to drain the pit, probably at least 30 seconds. I know the Basement Watchdog battery backups sold at Home Depot come with only a 6 hr battery life and a very small pump. Those systems would definitely not work for moderate to severe water problems.


Mine was Basement watchdog, I got it at Lowes or Home Depot. I don't remember the model or HP. 6 hr battery life doesn't mean a 6-hour outage. If you pump runs for 30 seconds every 10 minutes, that's 3 minutes an hour. 72 minutes a day. 6 hours for 5 days. I'm not saying everyone will have the same experience, and I was nervous about it the whole time, but it certainly doesn't mean the battery lasts from 8am until 2pm.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by dratkinson » Sun Jan 29, 2017 3:02 pm

Don't have a sump pump. Know nothing about practical solutions. But...


Idea: Build battery bank to give extended runtime to battery-powered sump pump.

If worried about the limited run time of a single-battery battery-powered sump pump, then should be able to gang multiple batteries together to give extended run time. For DIY ideas, I'd start here: http://www.google.com/search?q=sump+pump+battery+bank

Assume a worst case flooding scenario typical for your home, build in a multiplier to increase your sense of ease, build a battery bank to handle it, keep a spare backup sump pump in storage and know how to install it, have neighbors check on your home while you are away (and/or build in wireless flooding alarm), then add flood insurance.

That's all I can think of.



Second thought.

Idea: Spare battery and battery maintainer, recharge and swap out as needed.

Recalling past sump pump topic in which one member had a spare battery for his battery-backed sump pump. Why? It's the replacement battery bought early and kept on hand for when primary battery reaches end of service lift.

Keep spare battery plugged into battery maintainer and ready to go. For a long power outage, swap out primary battery with spare, then take primary and battery maintainer to a friends house (or office) that has power for recharging. Continue recharging/swapping out batteries until power outage over.
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by CyclingDuo » Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:17 am

dm200 wrote:Some friends of ours in our neighborhood (of very modest means) own a house with a basement sump pump to deal with preventing water damage in the basement. A few years ago, they sustained some damage when the power was out for several days.

They are getting the damage repaired, but are concerned that (although unlikely) there might be a repeat of several days of power outage. I believe (although not 100% sure) backup power or a generator would probably be (very) expensive. Are there any low cost ways of dealing with the sump pump power loss risk?


We have two sump pumps. One has the water back up pump, the other the marine battery back up. We also had our finished basement jack hammered up, and an interior trough installed that runs to the 2nd sump pump - so the dual system of exterior tile that drains to the original pump, and the interior track to the second pump has been golden since we installed it years ago following a tornado that caused damage to our home and property. We have had Biblical rains pretty much every year since about 2004. Prior to that, they were only once every 50 to 100 years based on all the historical weather information available in our area. Not sure what that says about climate change, but we decided to take care of it with the addition of the second pump to handle all these 4, 5, 6, 7" rains.

Now, the Biblical rains are pretty much a yearly occurrence - and sometimes two to three times a year. So spending the $15-$20K for a permanent solution was worth it for us. Having your house hit by a tornado will alter your thinking - especially when 9 inches of rain fell in a very short time along with the twister. :shock:

Luckily, power has never been out for more than a few seconds/minutes up to an hour since the installation of the interior track and second heavy duty pump. We did consider at the time an exterior generator to run our home, but balked at the $5 - $10K additional expense.

Glad I read this thread as it reminds me it is time to replace the marine battery.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by smitcat » Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:04 am

Another view on sump pumps and solving more than one problem at a time....
We have two sump pumps as well over these past 30 + years - they have sometimes stood unused for 2 years at a time.
But when they are needed they are most often needed when the weather is real fowl and the temps are not vey high.
The past 10 years they were needed at least 7 times we know of most of which were associated with major storms.
Each of those storms brought power outages with various days without power -1,2,2,4,5,6 and 11.
rather than buy a bunch of batteries and repurchase them each 3-4 years while continually charging them we bough a small inverter genset.
It was a bit less than $1,000 and runs the sump pumps, reefer, powers the oil burner (heat and hot water) and allows us some lights and to use and charge the phones, computers and other devices.
Batteries would have not likely made it past the 2 day outages - and left us with no heat, hot water or communication.

History has shown it was a good fit for us YMMV.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by dratkinson » Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:35 am

smitcat wrote:...
rather than buy a bunch of batteries and repurchase them each 3-4 years while continually charging them we bough a small inverter genset.
It was a bit less than $1,000 and runs the sump pumps, reefer, powers the oil burner (heat and hot water) and allows us some lights and to use and charge the phones, computers and other devices.
Batteries would have not likely made it past the 2 day outages - and left us with no heat, hot water or communication.

History has shown it was a good fit for us YMMV.


How big is your inverter generator?

Did you install a generator subpanel, or do you run extension cords?

Does your generator run all loads at once ("sump pumps, reefer, powers the oil burner (heat and hot water) and allows us some lights and to use and charge the phones, computers and other devices"), or do you swap loads to stay within generator capacity?

Does everyone (spouse, kids, house sitter) know how to use generator in your absence?
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by smitcat » Mon Jan 30, 2017 4:26 pm

dratkinson - your questions...

Yamaha YL 2800 bought about 13-14 years back.
6 breaker sub panel, run a 30 amp cord to the panel with the genset outside under cover.
The 2800 will easily run the reefer, sump pumps and oil burner with a few other lights and chargers at the same time.
I must manage loads if we need to use the microwave or the coffee maker or stuff like that.

My wife and daughter know how to run everything we own as well as the genset. The genset is not as difficult to set up and start as some of the other stuff we have around here.
The 2800 will run easily for 10 hours on the internal tank of fuel and I believe we used right about 30 gallons over the 11 day outage (hurricane Sandy) with the genset running about 80% of the time - about 7 hours per gallon overall while running.(note - corrected typo on the fuel use, thanks to dratkinson)
The inverter gensets are not fixed speeds so they throttle down when the power requirement lowers saving fuel compared to fixed speed machines
We did have a number of neighbors over to warm up, charge phones and devices, and take showers for that event.
Last edited by smitcat on Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by Epsilon Delta » Mon Jan 30, 2017 4:52 pm

Note that it may make sense to combine a generator with a battery sump pump. Not only does the battery give you time to start the generator, but you can run the generator a couple of hours a day to charge the battery, cool the freezer etc. rather than running it continuously.

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dratkinson
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by dratkinson » Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:04 pm

smitcat wrote:... genset running about 80% of the time - about 7 gph overall while running. ...


Typo? Seems high.
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by smitcat » Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:27 pm

"Typo? Seems high"

Yes - exactly - it should say 7 hours per gallon

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by likegarden » Mon Jan 30, 2017 7:32 pm

We also have a battery powered backup sump pump.

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just frank
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by just frank » Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:56 pm

Epsilon Delta wrote:Note that it may make sense to combine a generator with a battery sump pump. Not only does the battery give you time to start the generator, but you can run the generator a couple of hours a day to charge the battery, cool the freezer etc. rather than running it continuously.


Exactly. Battery system is fully automatic, and lasts hours to a day. Small generator gets set up and takes over for longer outages.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by whomever » Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:02 pm

Another set of answers...

How big is your inverter generator?


Honda EU2000

Did you install a generator subpanel, or do you run extension cords?


Cords. From the generator under the garage door, through a cat door in the garage-to-house door, one cord to furnace, one up to kitchen for fridge and incidentals.

Does your generator run all loads at once ("sump pumps, reefer, powers the oil burner (heat and hot water) and allows us some lights and to use and charge the phones, computers and other devices"), or do you swap loads to stay within generator capacity?


The primary loads are the furnace and fridge, a few hundred watts each. We also run an LED lamp and charge batteries for the neighborhood, but those don't add up to any appreciable amount.

During power outages, we cook on the coleman (propane) stove on the deck, and lighting is mostly headlamps. We run the generator two or three times during the day for however long it takes to warm up the house. We have long johns and are used to camping, so we just treat it like camping out in the world's most luxurious tent. We try to have fun by having neighbors over for cocoa, spaghetti feeds, and so on. I budget a gallon of gas a day if the weather is cold.

Does everyone (spouse, kids, house sitter) know how to use generator in your absence?


I wrote up detailed instructions. When we need to run it for an outage, or every few years if not, she takes the instructions and sets it up herself. I'm careful to go through the mothball procedure after running it so it will start without trouble. Every fall I dump the gas cans into the car tanks and get fresh gas, and add Stabil. If she still had problems, I expect a neighbor needing a cell phone charge would be by to help before too long :-).

We don't have kids.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by smitcat » Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:14 pm

"Did you install a generator subpanel, or do you run extension cords?


Cords. From the generator under the garage door, through a cat door in the garage-to-house door, one cord to furnace, one up to kitchen for fridge and incidentals."

Of course the key with this setup is to make sure the first thing anyone does is to turn off the main power breaker feeding the home before anything else.
Otherwise when the power comes back on suddenly you can have a real safety issue.

whomever
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by whomever » Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:02 pm

Smitcat: you may be thinking of people who wire a male-male cord and use it to connect a generator to a wall socket, thus energizing the house wiring. That's a bad idea; use a transfer switch if you want the house wiring energized.

When you unplug the fridge and plug it into a cord connected to a generator, the house wiring isn't energized. There's no reason to mess with breakers for that.

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just frank
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by just frank » Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:16 pm

I have happily done the small genny with cords running all over the house thing. Now I backfeed with an interlock (for safety).

The thing to remember with gennies is CO. Most warm houses suck air in down low (like a crack under a garage door). Keep generator exhaust away AND have a battery powered CO monitor. I have had mine go off after a couple hours when the exhaust was too close to the house. :shock:

Of the close to 1000 deaths in the US due to CO over the last decade (that did not involve a fire), about 80% involved exhaust from a generator.

A battery CO alarm is a required accessory.

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Frugal Al
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by Frugal Al » Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:21 am

just frank wrote:Of the close to 1000 deaths in the US due to CO over the last decade (that did not involve a fire), about 80% involved exhaust from a generator.

A battery CO alarm is a required accessory.

As we approach spring storm season, this cautionary advice definitely bears repeating. Thanks for the heads-up, j frank. Also thanks to hille141 for the info about the quiet check valve. Very helpful thread.

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dratkinson
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by dratkinson » Tue Jan 31, 2017 1:33 pm

whomever wrote:...
Cords. From the generator under the garage door, through a cat door in the garage-to-house door, one cord to furnace, one up to kitchen for fridge and incidentals.
...


Believe this to be a dangerous situation.

CO detectors required.
--Note generator warning against running in enclosed structure (garage, even with doors open). Do understand this anti-theft measure, so...
--Need CO detector(s) in your home, in your case, battery powered since you use cords to furnace, fridge, incidentals.
--Suggest adding AC-powered* digital display CO detector plugged into generator, and positioned so you can read display before you enter garage. After outage, return CO detector to your home. (*Believe digital display CO detectors require AC power. Could be wrong.)
--Add "use digital display CO detector with generator in garage", and how you will handle the expected high reading, to your instruction guide.

Even above might not be enough to overcome this dangerous situation (generator running in garage, attached to house).



Would be better to operate generator from back yard. Would need to handle anti-theft and weather issues, but safer to begin with.

Idea: A small generator can be wheeled into position in back yard for use, then wheeled back into garage for anti-theft storage between uses. That leaves only the weather issue to solve.

Idea: I have seen (YouTube) detached storage sheds converted for generator use by the addition of air intake grill and exhaust fan (heat, CO). If shed is large enough to walk into, then a CO detector would be a wise addition.
Last edited by dratkinson on Tue Jan 31, 2017 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
d.r.a, not dr.a. | I'm a novice investor, you are forewarned.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by smitcat » Tue Jan 31, 2017 2:03 pm

"Smitcat: you may be thinking of people who wire a male-male cord and use it to connect a generator to a wall socket, thus energizing the house wiring. That's a bad idea; use a transfer switch if you want the house wiring energized.

When you unplug the fridge and plug it into a cord connected to a generator, the house wiring isn't energized. There's no reason to mess with breakers for that."

We agree on the fridge 100%.
But the boiler/furnace is hardwired so you have either one of two problems 1. you have put a plug on the furnace or 2 you have back-fed the furnace through an outlet. Either one is a potential safety issue and an issue for your insurance should something go awry.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by smitcat » Tue Jan 31, 2017 2:05 pm

"I have happily done the small genny with cords running all over the house thing. Now I backfeed with an interlock (for safety)."

Hello Just frank - I really like those solutions, They are really very similar to the ones we have used on boats in the past and hey work really well.
In our area they are not deemed to be in code so we are kinda stuck without their usage - check your local codes.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by smitcat » Tue Jan 31, 2017 2:14 pm

"Would be better to operate generator from back yard. Would need to handle anti-theft and weather issues, but safer to begin with."

dratkinson - With our Yamaha 2800 we can fairly easily carry it out where we run it We use one of our 50' - 30 amp twist lock marine power cords to reach from the garage connector to the genset - they are fairly cheap at most boating stores. The genset unit has a 'tube' frame that we lock to a local fence post but any tree will work just as well. We run the unit inside one of those plastic outdoor garbage containers (normally holds 2 garbage cans) that you can buy at place like Costco or Home Depot. The small plastic 'container' has easy open doors but provides shelter and some noise reduction for the Yamaha - but it's very quite even without that container. So the garbage cans must stay out in the poor weather when we are running the genset for power at the house.
So far this year looks like it will not be run for home power - at this time we have over 2,000 hrs on the Yamaha 2800.
Hopefully the snow blowers will not be needed either....

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by neilpilot » Tue Jan 31, 2017 3:02 pm

smitcat wrote:We agree on the fridge 100%.
But the boiler/furnace is hardwired so you have either one of two problems 1. you have put a plug on the furnace or 2 you have back-fed the furnace through an outlet. Either one is a potential safety issue and an issue for your insurance should something go awry.


Well that depends. I have 3 HVAC units in my attic, and none are hard wired. They each plug into a standard 115V 15amp receptacle. When I need emergency power, I simply unplug the upstairs bedroom furnace and plug it into an extension cord, running outside to my generator.
Last edited by neilpilot on Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by neilpilot » Tue Jan 31, 2017 3:03 pm

duplicate

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by smitcat » Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:45 pm

"Well that depends. I have 3 HVAC units in my attic, and none are hard wired. They each plug into a standard 11V 15amp receptacle. When I need emergency power, I simply unplug the upstairs bedroom furnace and plug it into an extension cord, running outside to my generator."

I have never heard of an AC unit that also heated (HVAC) and was installed in an attic. Also never heard of any standalone appliance rated at that level that was allowed to run off of a 15 amp outlet nor would they be allowed to run by a corded installation.
A typical 1500 watts electric heater (12.5 amps) will put out less than 5,000 BTU's suitable for maybe one 12 X 12 room.

Here in the NE during Sandy and other weather events we are talking about 20 degree weather also with hot water so without an oil burner the electric draw would be unacceptable for a portable genset.
What area of the country are you in and which building codes allow these installs?

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by neilpilot » Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:07 pm

smitcat wrote:"Well that depends. I have 3 HVAC units in my attic, and none are hard wired. They each plug into a standard 11V 15amp receptacle. When I need emergency power, I simply unplug the upstairs bedroom furnace and plug it into an extension cord, running outside to my generator."

I have never heard of an AC unit that also heated (HVAC) and was installed in an attic. Also never heard of any standalone appliance rated at that level that was allowed to run off of a 15 amp outlet nor would they be allowed to run by a corded installation.
A typical 1500 watts electric heater (12.5 amps) will put out less than 5,000 BTU's suitable for maybe one 12 X 12 room.

What area of the country are you in and which building codes allow these installs?

In the Memphis area virtually every home I've seen built in the last ~20 years has the water tank and HVAC in the attic. Of course the AC compressor is outdoors and powered by a separate 220v circuit. We are subject to the NEC (I'm not sure what version). I see where you quote "A typical 1500 watts electric heater (12.5 amps) will put out less than 5,000 BTU's suitable for maybe one 12 X 12 room". But of course you realize that virtually all of the area homes are gas heat (water is sometimes gas, sometimes electric). So the split HVAC in the attic has a very small electrical load, consisting of the circulation fan and a small transformer to power the thermostat and control circuits and possibly electronic ignition in the newer units that don't run a gas pilot light.

I've never surveyed area homes to know if the typical HVAC is hardwired or powered through a standard plug set, but I can tell you that none of the 3 homes I've owned in this area (a total of 6 HVAC units) were hard wired.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by whomever » Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:29 pm

But the boiler/furnace is hardwired so you have either one of two problems 1. you have put a plug on the furnace


I did put a plug on the furnace.

I've had people on bogleheads mention this before, so it's worth clarifying. Current code requires furnaces to be hardwired. I don't know why that is, or what the objection to plug-in furnaces is; I've asked, and no one has surfaced a good reason.

But here's the thing about the NEC - it's up to the discretion of the inspector. For a homeowner, I've done a lot of wiring - several subpanels, a phase converter for 3 phase, many branch circuits, and so on - all of which passed inspection. In fact, I try to do neat work, and the usual inspector reaction is 'Nice work!'. I have, more than once, called the inspector about what they think about this or that detail. My inspectors have always been reasonable people; they have more than once said something like 'Sure, I see how you could read the code to prohibit that, but it's not a real world problem, I'll approve it'. And - if the inspector approves it, it passes code. And my inspector happily passed my corded furnace when I explained why I was doing it. YMMV, but my inspector approved it, because it made sense, and the NEC allows inspector discretion.

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just frank
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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by just frank » Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:39 pm

During a nasty ice storm a few years back, nearly 1M homes near here were without electricity for several days in sub-freezing weather.

I un-hardwired a friends gas boiler, patched in a cord, and ran it off my $100 genny to keep their house from freezing (including their hydronic radiators). Afterwards, they had a pro set them up with a nice dedicated circuit and heavy duty plug. No one seems concerned about inspections, but wants to have heat in an outage.

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Re: Sump pump and power outage

Post by ralph124cf » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:37 am

A previous poster referred to the two main failure modes for sump pumps: Electrical interruption and pump failure. I would like to add a third, which I have experienced: Insufficient capacity. When I moved into my current home one of the first modifications that I made was to install a backup sump pump for the event of a power failure or pump failure. The next spring, which was a wet spring, we first had an 8" heavy wet snow, followed by a prolonged rain which did not runoff as normal because of the snow. I was surprised when my backup pump started alarming (which it does whenever it starts). When I looked at the sump pit I was surprised to see that both the main pump and the backup pump were operating, but that the water inflow was such that the water level stayed within about 1" of the top of the pit. The wire from the battery charger to the backup pump battery was quite hot.

I had a sump pump failure two years ago that led to a significant basement flooding event. It appears that the check valve between the main pump exhaust and the battery backup failed, and the main pump ended up pumping the sump water in a round trip backward thru the backup sump pump into the sump pit until the bearings in the main pump failed and the pump froze, causing a power demand that tripped the circuit breaker). Then the backup pump took over until the battery was exhausted (the battery charger was plugged into the same circuit that was powering the sump pump) ( we were away at a wedding at the time, and the alarm from the backup pump died at the same time as the battery ). Luckily the water just ran across the floor and ran down a floor drain that led to an ejector pump for the basement bath, so we never had more than about one half inch of water in the basement. Unfortunately it was about two weeks before we noticed the problem, so we had some mold and mildew problems. The cost of repairs significantly exceeded our max insurance reimbursement of $10,000. I now have a ceramic tile basement floor laid with mortar rather than grout, so it should be essentially impervious to water,(unlike the previous carpet). I also have nothing valuable directly touching the floor, and the baseboards are now PVC, rather than wood overlaying wallboard, so 2"" of water in the basement would be an inconvenience rather that an expensive event.

Prior to repairs, I had two other sump dedicated twenty amp circuits installed by an electrician, and had an additional sump pit dug adjacent to the current pit with an interconnect for overflow if the main pump cannot handle the water for any reason. The additional pit is a battery powered pump with a very high powered charger. I also had new exhaust piping installed for the new higher capacity main pump ( 2" instead of 1.5", and used the existing 1.5" for the new battery powered pump).

As a third source of water removal I now have a water powered backup pump which will come on only if the first two fail to keep the water in check.

Ralph

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