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DIY_Help 02-17-2009 11:47 AM

Basement Flooding / Sump Pump -- Should I get a generator added to my home.
My basement has flooded 3 times over the past 10 years. A few years ago I installed a very expensive waterproofing system (outside drainage improved, inside jack hammering around the perimeter of the basement, SUMP PUMP and marine battery BATTERY BACKUP).

My power goes out at least 2 times a year it seems. Sometimes for multiple days depending on how bad our storm is and how backed up the repair trucks get. I live in Kentucky by the way.

During the spring time after most rains my sump pump seems to be doing it's job every 15 minutes or so, pumping out the container...


I have battery backup with the marine battery but when they sold it to me I was told that it would last several days. I called the same company back just out of curiousity and they told me that it would last 4-10 hours depending on how busy the pump is having to work.

My worry: I spent $30K remodeling my basement. I can't afford for it to flood again due to a prolonged power outage.

Should I go ahead and bite the bullet and have a generator added to my house? It's about 2200 square feet including the basement and 3 of us live in it. I assume they cost around $2000-3000 and automatically activate after it detects power going out.

Please help me ease my home owner$hip worries. Should I get the external generator?

Oh by the way -- We travel a lot so an external generator that we would keep seperately in case of an emergency might not work too well. we need something automatic.

Thanks for the advice!! Take care.

Bob Mariani 02-17-2009 12:06 PM

Sounds like you should get a generator. If for only these few emergencies a small one will be fine. use an automatic transfer switch to switch power between to two automatically. Could even get a neighbor trained on some basic safety measures for when you are away, setting a sensor towards to top of the sump pump which could text you or the emergency. Hope you have a backup sump pump also.

rustyjames 02-17-2009 01:10 PM

If you invested 30k you should if you've had prior flooding. As stated above, an axillary pump would be a good idea too.

cocobolo 02-17-2009 11:45 PM

DIY help, If you have a marine battery, which should be a deep cycle battery, can we assume that your sump pump runs on 12 volts?
You can find out how long your battery can run the pump by checking on the power the pump uses. The rating will be on there somewhere.
So if it is a 12 volt pump, and it runs intermittently, this might be comparable to a bilge pump in an open boat when it rains.
I have had my battery go for well over a month without any charge in the boat. Recently, I found a leak in the boat (now repaired) and before the repair the pump was running 5 or 6 times every hour. As the battery goes down, the pump just runs slower. If, on the other hand, you have a 120 volt pump and are running it through an inverter, then no, the battery will be short lived.
If you want to get good info on generators which will self start, go to home power magazine. You can find it on the web. HUGE amounts of information.
I've been off grid for 12 years now.

Ron6519 02-20-2009 03:18 PM

Price point in upstate NY for a 7-8kw generator is $3500 for the generator install. For a 100 lb propane tank install and fill would be about $900.
This is an air cooled, automatic start with a transfer switch. It has the capacity for 1 small 220 line. If you needed 2-220 lines you would need to go to a larger sized unit.

Bob Mariani 02-20-2009 04:16 PM

I would go with a diesel generator. I would not like to depend on that pilot light working.

cocobolo 02-20-2009 04:26 PM

Bob: I wasn't aware that a propane fired generator had a pilot light. I know the fridges and water heaters do. Isn't the propane fired generator engine similar to an automobile engine on propane, only smaller?

Bob Mariani 02-20-2009 04:33 PM

maybe, never saw one like this. Seems a gas still needs to ignite and even electronic igniters have too many issues with dirt and such. a photo cell is used to control firing and this too stops working with dirt. And the generator is outside.

cocobolo 02-20-2009 04:53 PM

Bob: it is my understanding that some brands of generators can easily be converted from gasoline to propane operation. One of the fellows here has the same generator as I do, the Honda EU 3000, and he has installed a propane kit. Very inexpensive.
It uses the same ignition as every other Honda generator.

Bob Mariani 02-20-2009 05:36 PM

correct the can be converted. never done one, been using diesel generators and have not issues are reasons to change them.

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