Testing out the sump pumps

Earlier in the year we sat and slept for eight hours next to the sump pit to see when our secondary pump would go on.  Turns out that it never did, but the third pump (a battery backup) did.

Fast forward a month and on a Sunday in April we had a storm which basically was too much for our primary pump to handle and so the battery backup had to kick in to handle the rest.  Luckily Vero had woken up at 2am to go to the bathroom (thanks to the Sequel!) and heard the alarms going off downstairs.

We watched until 5am as the water just kept coming in and and in and in at a fast clip.  The second pump would never turn on unless we manually lifted the float.  I could never get the float into a good position to turn on because it was positioned higher than the primary.

Well.  I suppose we needed to fix this situation.  I ended up ordering a neat sensor from Ebay called a Levelguard.

LEVELGUARD Pump Switch,NO,115VAC,Plug,9 ft., Z24800A1Z


Instead of depending on a float type sensor, it just triggers on when the water hit a certain point.  We luckily received this on a Tuesday before we were destined to leave town to visit some family on Easter weekend.

Now my system is quite great.  The primary pump kicks on.  If the primary pump doesn’t kick on, the water will hit a Wi-fi sensor which will trigger an alarm and send me an email.  Not the greatest in the middle of the night though since a) the alarm doesn’t wake me up and b) even my phone next to me didn’t wake me up when I received an email.  Next up in our line of defence is the secondary pump that now works great with the Levelguard sensor.  So if the primary is broken, or if overcome by too much water coming in, it will pick up the slack.

After that point, we have another pump which is attached to a battery which is good for power outages.  Case in point, I was stuck working this Easter weekend so I had to stay home while Vero, her parents and Sierra went to Saint-Jacques-des-Leeds.  But in the back of my head I was scared to the leave the home as they were calling for flood conditions all over the Ottawa region and all I could think about was “What if there is a power outage?”

Sure enough, 3:30pm rolls around while I’m laying down some tracks to a new song and the lights flicker, then everything shuts off.  Time to test out the system!

I hauled my generator out of the garage over to the window nearest the pumps and made sure that was up and running.  I plugged the primary in around 4PM and emptied the entire sump pit.  After that I decided it was best to see how long my backup battery could last in full springtime conditions as I had not tested that scenario yet.

6:15PM rolled around and the water level was very close to triggering the battery backup, but it hadn’t yet.  I was quite surprised.  I suppose emptying the pit out around 4PM helped things out.  But it’s incredible to think that two hours went by and the water hadn’t even reached the battery backup yet.  Sometimes I wonder if I should adjust the primary pump sensor a little higher since it’s going off every 4 minutes.  There are two schools of thought.  1) If it’s going to take two hours to hit the battery backup, then what’s the harm in adjusting it so it gets high enough to empty every 30 minutes?  2) The other school of thought is if you end up with a flash flood of rain, those 30 minutes are precious if something else goes wrong.

I also now have a battery power sensor that will trigger around the time as the battery backup with a ear shattering 120db sound!  That’s a little ridiculous but that’s all they were selling on Amazon.  This will be good if the power goes out in the middle of the night and we are not hearing the battery backup come on.

No plan is foolproof, but I would like to think that we are getting close.

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