Why You Need A Backup Sump Pump System

flooded basement

With volatile weather systems and high water tables, a backup sump pump system is more of a necessity than a luxury.  All it takes is one storm that knocks out power to put you at risk of a flood.  However, the possibility of losing power isn’t the only reason to install a backup sump system.  They can also backup your main sump pump when it fails due to an obstructed or defective float, debris caught in the pump or some sort of mechanical failure.

Here at Power Plumbing and Heating we install two different types of backup sump pump systems, battery operated and a water backup systems.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages.  Below we will examine both these systems so that you can decide which would be best suited for your home.

Battery Backup Sump Pump

Liberty battery back up


A battery powered backup is a separate sump pump system that is installed adjacent to your primary electric pump in the sump basin.  It is not a battery hook-up for your main pump.  It typically runs on  12v or 24v DC battery power.

One of the advantages of using a battery backup system is that it runs without the use of a municipal water supply making it perfect for anyone on well water.  The disadvantage to the battery system is that it has a finite capacity because the battery has a finite capacity. You can use a bigger battery or multiple batteries but there’s still a finite limit. There is also an ongoing maintenance cost because the battery needs to be replaced at regular intervals.  Another disadvantage is the cost of the batteries which can make this type of unit more expensive than a water-powered unit to install.

Water-Powered Backup Sump Pump

Liberty Water Back up



In areas where a pressurized municipal water supply is available (city water), a water-powered backup sump pump can be a reliable backup sump system without the need for a battery power supply.  A good pump will typically pump out 2 gallons of water for every 1 gallon of municipal water used.

The advantage of this system is that it is extremely reliable even if the power goes out for an extended period of time.  There is effectively no maintenance required and no battery to worry about.  The only thing needed is a reliable municipal water system that consistently provides a minimum of 60 psi pressure.  The drawback is there is an operating cost in terms of water required to operate the pump, which is difficult to calculate because you don’t know how long the power will be be out or how much water the pump will be required to remove. If a major catastrophe occurs and you loose city water pressure (or experience a significant decrease in city water pressure) you could be in trouble.  Another potential disadvantage for those with a finished basement is the cost and disruption of running a waterline to the sump pit if the main water meter is too far from the pump.


Both of these systems operate with their own float switch.  This is important for two reasons.  One, if the primary pump cannot keep up with the inflow due to excessive amounts of water entering the sump pit during an abnormal event, the backup pump will assist the primary pump in evacuating the water.  Two, in the event of a power disruption or primary pump/level control failure, it will assume the role as the primary pump allowing time for the power to be restored or the AC electric pump system to be serviced.  Neither of these pumps are recommended to be used as a primary pump system.

The choice is a matter of personal preference, comfort level, and a bit of speculation as to what your worst case scenario might be.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to help.


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Do’s and Don’ts for Thanksgiving

The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for plumbers.  To prevent you from having to add a plumber to your guest list this long weekend Power Plumbing has compiled a survival guide to get you through the holiday trouble-free.

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Do Not

  • Dump grease down the drain (grease will harden in the pipes the same way that it does in the pan overnight)
  • Force large amounts of food down the disposal at once
  • Put celery down the disposal, it's very stringy and hard on the blades
  • Put any kind of bones down the disposal
  • Put starchy foods like potatoes, rice and pasta down the disposal as they will swell and clog the drain
  • Put coffee grinds down the drain.  They appear to go down fine but actually get stuck in the trap and will eventually clog your drain.


  • Rinse greasy plates in hot water
  • Be sure to keep the water flowing while using the disposal
  • Run hot water down the drain for 60 seconds to flush through any grease stuck in the trap
  • Mix equal parts vinegar and baking soda and pour down the drain.  Let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse with hot water to eliminate any odours.

Follow these tips to prevent having plumbing issues during the holiday.  We will still accept invitations to Thanksgiving dinner, though!

And don't forget about our post 10 Things You Should Never Flush Down the Toilet!


If you do happen to run into a problem, our phones are on 24 hours a day.


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What Does Fully Licenced and Insured Mean?


In today’s economy cutting costs and saving money has become a priority for many.  But hiring a contractor that is not fully licenced and insured could end up costing you an arm and a leg or even your house in the long run.

A contractor with the above credentials can give you peace of mind that the company you are hiring is not a “fly by night” operation and should something go wrong, the company can afford to fix it right.

So what does “Fully Licenced and Insured”, really mean?

Fully Licenced – The government of Ontario has made a number of trades, such as electrical and plumbing, into compulsory trades.  This means that they are governed by their own sets of standards and licences.  For certain trades this licence gives you recourse should the contractor fail to complete the job or does not do the job to the specific codes set in place for that particular trade.  You could file a complaint with the Ontario College of Trades and, depending on the severity of the situation, the contactors licence could be questioned, suspended or revoked.

The City of London also requires a licence to operate as a contractor within the city limits.  The city licence is only given to legal companies that are fully insured.

You can ask to see Power Plumbing’s licences at any time.  We have worked hard for them and are proud to show them to you.


broken-pipeFully Insured – There are two types of insurance that you should look for when hiring a contractor.  The first one is liability insurance.  Liability insurance is insurance taken out by the company that will cover the cost of any damage done to your home or business should something go wrong.  While a good contractor will always do their best to not cause any damage sometimes things can go wrong.  Even a small amount of water can cause thousands of dollars in damage.  You want to know that the company doing the work can cover the cost to repair any accidents.



The second type of insurance you should look for when hiring a contractor is workplace safety insurance.  In Ontario, workplace safety insurance is mandatory for most people in the construction industry.  Should a worker be hurt on the job the property owner could be held liable if the company is not up to date with WSIB.   The following quote is directly from the WSIB website:

“As of January 1, 2013 new mandatory coverage rules came into effect; however, starting January 1, 2014, contractors who have not yet registered with the WSIB, and who do construction work without a valid clearance number will face fines of up to $100,000 upon conviction.  Those who hire contractors without confirming they have a valid clearance number also face serious fines and penalties.”

Please feel free to ask for Power Plumbing’s Certificate of Insurance that will prove that we are up to date with our liability insurance and our WSIB number so that you may obtain an e-clearance from the WSIB website.

Having a fully licenced and insured company will help ensure that your renovation project will go smoothly.  This is the only type of company that you should deal with if you want the peace of mind of knowing that anything that can go wrong will be covered by the contractor.  Power Plumbing and Heating will give you that peace of mind.

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