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Thread: Backup Sump and Discharge for frozen line; Zoeller or Hydromatic ?

  1. #1

    Default Backup Sump and Discharge for frozen line; Zoeller or Hydromatic ?

    Hi,... I would appreciate advice on a backup sump system. I've owned a home for 2 years and am a moderately handy plumbing amateur, but I've been researching this issue a lot the past few weeks.

    Had 1" of water in the basement 4 weeks ago due to a frozen discharge line. The line is about 60 feet long leading to a pond. I'm pretty sure it sags in the middle and water collected there and froze because it's not below the frost line. (We're in Ottawa, Canada area.) I think the bedrock is close enough to the surface that it's difficult to get a proper slope.

    Insurance company required a plumbers report so I told the above to a plumber and he wrote my words into report and recommended replacing the whole line (and adding a backup pump). I decide that's probably too expensive and disruptive to our lawn (and doesn't protect against an obstruction or freezing in new line) so I propose a redundant system where the battery backup sump pump has it's own line discharging 10-15 ft away from house. If/when the main line freezes again, I'll add a temporary hose to get water well away from house.

    I'm not entirely sure if plumber is competent in sump pumps. I keep getting surprised that plumbers I ask seem to know little about hot water heater anodes, especially the segmented type we probably need for our raised HWH in basement. I'm half tempted to build my own system now that I've learned as much as I have... Although I suspect a plumber would at least have to inspect the system to avoid future troubles with insurance.


    Q1: Would it make sense to have two completely seperate pumps, each with their own discharge line, or is there some robust method to tie the two lines together such that the primary pump could also discharge through the above ground line? I was imagining a valve activated from the backpressure of a frozen line.

    Q2: I imagine the backup discharge line would be PVC, but have read that it might not last long above ground. Should this line be galvanized steel or something else ?

    Plumber has finally come through with a verbal quote. High end option is a Hydromatic A+ battery backup sump system for about $1200 US + $200 US for labor and other materials. I think he also mentioned cheaper Hydromatic products but I haven't found info on their website: $280 US for FG/100 or $440 US for FG/200. Q3: Any info on these lower end Hydomatic products?

    I don't like the Hydromatic A+ because it seems to have a continuous run-time of only 1.5 hours. It's a fully automatic 12V -> 120 VAC inverter system and I guess this is much less efficient than a DC motor system.

    I've found things to like about the Basement Watchdog Big Dog (like 7.5 hr run time continuous) but apparently only the smaller Basement Watchdog systems have CSA approval for use in Canada. Q4: Is this a lower quality consumer grade product ?

    From posts here I guess I should consider a Zoeller Aquanot II, assuming I can get that here in Canada. I'm concerned about the reports of Hydromatic quality dropping due to outsourcing to Mexico. I'm also concerned about the issue with Zoeller switches only lasting 100,000 cycles or so. I'm not sure how many cycles we'll get in a year, but I'd prefer a product that can last a LONG time.

    Q5: What's my best best for a reliable battery backup system that can last at least 7 hours continuous or so? Can/should I replace the switch on the Zoeller Aquanot II ?

    Q6: Primary AC pump is a 1/4 HP cheapie and due for replacement I guess since it's 6 years old. Any advantage with going with the same brand (Zoeller?) for the primary?

    Q7: Any issues with a system such as this where the main line may freeze and the primary will be "spinning it's wheels" when the backup kicks in?

    Q8: Any issues with hydrogen from the batteries in the semi-enclosed area under the stairs? Oild furnaces is 5-6 feet away.

    Q9: I'll need a generator if the power is down too long. Is it safe to use a cheaper generator for the AC pump and DC pump as well as perhaps the furnace motor or should I get one of the much more expensive inverter generators that are better for electronics ?


    Thanks much for any help or feedback !
    Mike.

  2. #2

    Default

    No response ?

    Just spoke with the plumber.

    He says they would use ABS pipe outside, as PVC is only used underground (or inside).

    He claims he has never heard of Zoeller. I'm a bit surprised but I'd guess he doesn't read plumbing stuff on the internet.

    Told him I was concerned that the Hydromatic A+ only has a 1.5 hour run time at 100% duty cycle. He claims it should handle 10,000 gallons. My calculations don't agree; perhaps I need a new plumber:

    Based on the graph and other specs at http://www.hydromatic.com/pdf/03pdf/422.aplus.pdf :

    Group 27 85-105 Amp hours 12 volts

    @ 5.8A:

    duty cycle : time hrs : on time : gals @ 10 ft head
    100% = 1.5 1.5 1980
    80% = 2.3 1.8 2376
    60% = 3.4 2.0 2640
    50% = 4.0 2.0 2640
    40% = 4.8 1.9
    30% = 5.8 1.7
    20% = 6.8 1.3
    10% = 8.3 0.8
    5% = 9.5 0.5 660


    So the maximum transfer before the battery needs a rest appears to be 2,640 gallons, about 1/4 of the 10,000 gallons he quoted.

    Mike.

  3. #3

    Default

    I can't find an online Zoeller sump pump reseller with decent prices that ships to Canada.

    Any ideas ?

  4. #4
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Tell me what Mod. you are looking for. Aquanot II?
    Last edited by Cass; 05-03-2007 at 03:38 AM.

  5. #5

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    Few thoughts for your consideration:

    1. IMO - Aquanot II is the best backup unit. Uses a square-D brand switch that you might be able to get via Zoeller directly. Don't worry about the switch life for backups as would for your primary AC pump.

    2. Zoeller N-53 with separately purchased SJE Rhombus vertical master or Zoeller BN-53 with wide angle float are excellent units. Zoeller M-53 is also good, but switch design will wear out long before pump motor. Hydromatic makes goods cast iron pumps (ex. VA-1, VS-33) as well to serve as your primary AC pump. Haven't heard that Hydromatic (Pentair) was outsourcing to Mexico....boxes still say made in USA.

    3. High amp hr AGM batteries (ex. Concorde) will provide up to 105 amp hours and not give off any odors or leak acid. They also retain a charge much better vs. wet cell batteries. Tradeoff - 2x or 3x price of normal wetcells. Buy 2 and you can double your pumping time capacity. Inexpensive float charger will keep second unit charged.

    4. Inverters to run a sump pump will require a minimum 1200 to 1500 watt capacity model alone. Won't get much run time with an extended power outage. Solution: see #1 & #3 above. To run extra appliances (ex furnace), you'll need a minimum 5000 watt portable generator if not higher (higher recommended!). If you try to hardwire directly to furnace, don't....have a transfer switch properly installed.

    5. You can have a single discharge line for both pumps. Make sure there are check valves installed between the pumps and any union where they come together.

  6. #6

    Default

    Thanks for your comments carmel corn.

    >5. You can have a single discharge line for both pumps.

    I think it'd be too expensive, and too lawn destroying to get a backhoe in here, dig up the line, and replace it with a new discharge line with a proper slope. I'm not even sure the close bedrock here will allow a proper slope. Even if I go to all this expense and trouble, the line could get clogged with mud or who know what else.

    So I'm going to have a 2nd discharge line, above ground with a proper slope, for the backup system only, that runs about 15 feet away from house. This gives added redundancy, added capacity if both systems are working, and should be less expensive and less work/headaches than fixing the primary line.

    If the backup system starts running, and I'm home, I'll add a few temporary extension hoses to get the water farther away than 15 ft from house.


    >4. To run extra appliances (ex furnace), you'll need a minimum 5000 watt portable generator if not higher (higher recommended!).

    I saw an automatic 7 KW propane Generac with ATS at Home Depot for $2100 Canadian and was getting tempted to go that route, even given the labor costs for electrician to install (I could do myself but understand legal issues). I thought Generac was well regarded, but reading through an electrical contractors forum, found that the smaller units were despised by the pros.

    So now I'm back to looking at 5 KW+ portable gennies that are reliable and quiet enough to run tolerable for days if need be, but less expensive than the Honda units.

    The furnace is oil fueled so the main power draw, AFAIK is the fan. I was considering replacing with a high efficiency DC fan, but now that I've realized I MUST have a generator (for sump, furnace and sewage pump at minimum) I'm not sure a DC furnace fan is worth it.


    >3. High amp hr AGM batteries

    I had already rejected the idea of AGM batteries for cost reasons at least. If they have all those advantages, including no hydrogen gas issues, perhaps I'll reread the issue and reconsider.

  7. #7

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    >1. IMO - Aquanot II is the best backup unit. Uses a square-D brand switch that you might be able to get via Zoeller directly. Don't worry about the switch life for backups as would for your primary AC pump.

    Yes, I guess you are right that in my backup application, the switch life shouldn't be an issue. I'm assuming that switch life issues are not a matter of how many years old the switch is, but how many activations. 100,000+ activations shouldn't be an issue for backup.

    Yes, it's essential IMO to get the best backup pump quality I can afford, since with my potential for freezing the primary pump discharge line, the backup may be called into full service. Freezing happens during the spring thaw so the backup pump may need to run a lot, and I need a system with a charger that also acts as a full power supply so it can run for a week or more (assuming AC power is available). So even the lesser Zoeler backup systems won't be sufficient for this application.



    >2. Zoeller N-53 with separately purchased SJE Rhombus vertical master or Zoeller BN-53 with wide angle float are excellent units.

    OK, so Zoeller BN-53 doesn't have the switch life issue that the M-53 has? Perhaps this would be simpler than using a piggyback switch but I'm not sure if some adjustment flexibility is lost.


    >Haven't heard that Hydromatic (Pentair) was outsourcing to Mexico.

    In the thread here http://www.terrylove.com/forums/show...romatic+mexico
    master plumber mark said: "I dont know what happened to their quality, (probably something to do with subbing out to mexico)"

    He also said: "the hydromatic pump with the diaphram switch was the only brand that I installed for years then recently in a batch of 12 of them I bought I had dead motors in 7......adn I have a few others jsut die and quit on me that were in only a year or so....... something going on withthe quality that I dont like...."

    IMO, Virtually every field is like this now. One by one, reputable manufacturers with good reputations are cutting costs and creating new, less reliable or less worthy products. Any company that's been recently bought or that is owned by some holding company, like Pentair, for example, is suspect.

    AFAICT, Zoeller still makes, virtually universally respected, quality products, with the exception of the switch life issue of some models. Apparently my plumber has never heard of Zoeller though. I don't think my plumber can read spec sheets or do math though, so I've unofficially fired him. He hasn't called back with a Zoeller quote or the promised catalog drive-by though so maybe he's fired me for asking too many "smart" questions.

    Whatever. I'm gonna install this system myself anyway, and get a decent plumber to inspect it afterward for insurance CYA purposes. Only thing I need to learn/try is gluing ABS pipe together and that looks easy enough to learn. Hmmm, I hope that 2 90 degree horizontal elbows on 2" pipe are OK.
    Last edited by hiremichaelreid; 05-09-2007 at 08:57 PM.

  8. #8
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking Carmel Corn said it all...

    I am not sure , but did I not talk to you
    once on the phone ... Carmel Corn??
    And possibly put that exact system in for you
    last year??? You or someone up in Westfield??



    Anyway everything you said to this fellow is 100% correct

    and he should just run another line out the side of the house visible
    on the grass if necessary just to get the water 5 feet away from the house..just like a gutter..

    \
    I put in two lines like that before for a home owner becasue the line dumped into a culvert that would get overwelmed with water when it rained heavily and the pump could not pump it out the end quick enough....

    so he simply put the battery operated pump out 6 feet into the shrubs to save the day it necessary...


    http://www.weilhammerplumbing.com/sumppumps/

    t

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hiremichaelreid
    Thanks for your comments carmel corn.

    >5. You can have a single discharge line for both pumps.

    I think it'd be too expensive, and too lawn destroying to get a backhoe in here, dig up the line, and replace it with a new discharge line with a proper slope. I'm not even sure the close bedrock here will allow a proper slope. Even if I go to all this expense and trouble, the line could get clogged with mud or who know what else.

    So I'm going to have a 2nd discharge line, above ground with a proper slope, for the backup system only, that runs about 15 feet away from house. This gives added redundancy, added capacity if both systems are working, and should be less expensive and less work/headaches than fixing the primary line.

    If the backup system starts running, and I'm home, I'll add a few temporary extension hoses to get the water farther away than 15 ft from house.


    >4. To run extra appliances (ex furnace), you'll need a minimum 5000 watt portable generator if not higher (higher recommended!).

    I saw an automatic 7 KW propane Generac with ATS at Home Depot for $2100 Canadian and was getting tempted to go that route, even given the labor costs for electrician to install (I could do myself but understand legal issues). I thought Generac was well regarded, but reading through an electrical contractors forum, found that the smaller units were despised by the pros.

    So now I'm back to looking at 5 KW+ portable gennies that are reliable and quiet enough to run tolerable for days if need be, but less expensive than the Honda units.

    The furnace is oil fueled so the main power draw, AFAIK is the fan. I was considering replacing with a high efficiency DC fan, but now that I've realized I MUST have a generator (for sump, furnace and sewage pump at minimum) I'm not sure a DC furnace fan is worth it.


    >3. High amp hr AGM batteries

    I had already rejected the idea of AGM batteries for cost reasons at least. If they have all those advantages, including no hydrogen gas issues, perhaps I'll reread the issue and reconsider.
    Regarding the second line...one setup I can suggest to avoid any digging would be for you to modify the pvc discharge line right at the point it exits your home. Around here, many homes have a 1.5 inch pvc line that exits the house above ground and horizontally through the joist cavity above the foundation sill plate. The line then elbows straight down into the ground where the discharge line moves the water underground to our storm sewers. If you cut the pvc line and install a "T" in place of the elbow (one opening of T joint points straight down like previous elbow, other opening points straight up), then you can add some pipe to lengthen the additional opening and then attach a flex hose to serve as your second line. If your primary line gets blocked/frozen, etc. then your discharge line will fill up to the point that the next water being pump out will go out through the second opening in the T joint. I've personally had to deal with this as my original discharge line was compromised and I had all my sump discharge exiting out the auxillary opening I made with the T fitting until a permanent solution was done.

    On a another note, please tell those Ottawa Senators to slow down...they're too good!

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by master plumber mark
    I am not sure , but did I not talk to you
    once on the phone ... Carmel Corn??
    And possibly put that exact system in for you
    last year??? You or someone up in Westfield??



    Anyway everything you said to this fellow is 100% correct

    and he should just run another line out the side of the house visible
    on the grass if necessary just to get the water 5 feet away from the house..just like a gutter..

    \
    I put in two lines like that before for a home owner becasue the line dumped into a culvert that would get overwelmed with water when it rained heavily and the pump could not pump it out the end quick enough....

    so he simply put the battery operated pump out 6 feet into the shrubs to save the day it necessary...


    http://www.weilhammerplumbing.com/sumppumps/

    t
    Mark, yes sir we have spoken before...great memory on your part! I've not had you out to do any work at my home, but you never know! I've got an extremely active sump here in Carmel and agree with all the things you have stated on this site. I use a Hydromatic 33 pump unit vs. a Zoeller 53 for my primary...I like their upper sleeve bearing design. Seen several M-53's fail around here due to the short-life switch problem. Like you, install the SJE Rhombus vertical masters to extend performance, lengthen pumping cycles (ex. 6 inches), and facilitate easier replacement. I rely on my Aquanot II to keep my basement dry when we lose power .... great pump with tremendous pumping capacity for a 12v system. May call you again in the near future!

  11. #11

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by carmel corn
    On a another note, please tell those Ottawa Senators to slow down...they're too good!
    I gave up on the Sens, since they consistently choked in the Playoffs in the last several years. Maybe if I start watching again, and root for em, they'll choke for you... Why you rooting for the Sabres? Anyway, I'm half Canadian and figure it's time for "Lord Stanley's Cup" to come back to Canada for once, where it started...

    >One setup I can suggest to avoid any digging would be for you to modify the pvc discharge line right at the point it exits your home.

    I wasn't planning to do any digging actually. My plan was to cut a new discharge line hole in the wall about 1-2 feet above ground and have a new pipe, protected from people behind a deck fence, sloping down for 15 feet but still above ground at the discharge. I originally figured I'd cut through the foundation, but now realize it'll be much easier to cut through wood, about 6 inches from an outside tap and 2 feet up.

    >If you cut the pvc line and install a "T" in place of the elbow (one opening of T joint points straight down like previous elbow, other opening points straight up), then you can add some pipe to lengthen the additional opening and then attach a flex hose to serve as your second line.

    I think this could be a good idea, similar to one of my original ideas. My original idea (as a plumbing amateur) was that some sort of pressure valve could be teed in. A frozen line would increase the pressure (I don't know how many PSI), open the valve and the water would flow out the backup pipe.

    I think your idea is to use a certain number of vertical feet of pipe head as a pressure valve. Sounds good if it will work and I can determine the appropriate number of feet up to go.

    My current discharge line exits the house foundation about 16" below ground level. I dug recently to verify. This is about 3 or 4 feet above the basement floor. Perhaps I could just add a Tee there and bring a pipe up for 3 feet or so? I'm thinking this would be like a 1.5 PSI pressure valve ?

    The BIG advantage of sharing a line would be that the primary pump will still be used (and not fighting the freeze) if the primary line freezes, and the backup will only be needed if AC power fails, or if the primary pump or switch dies. With this design, I might be tempted to go for a less expensive backup pump.

    Thanks!

  12. #12

    Default

    >If you cut the pvc line and install a "T" in place of the elbow (one opening of T joint points straight down like previous elbow, other opening points straight up), then you can add some pipe to lengthen the additional opening and then attach a flex hose to serve as your second line.

    I'm thinking about this and getting concerned that this might have a freezing risk for the short Teed secondary pipe. But perhaps if there is a weep hole above the check valves inside the house, then the 4 feet or so or vertical pipe outside the house won't hold water long enough to freeze ? I guess 4 feet of 2" pipe would hold about 0.6 gallons or so of water that will drain back into the sump after the pump stops.

    Hopefully there is no way that ice could form in the Tee and block it there.

    My observation is that the simplest way to avoid pipe freezing is to ensure that once pipes leave the heated house, they always slope down and never go up. Adding a vertical pipe outside makes me nervous that there may be some mechanism that creates a frozen line. Heck, maybe an ice jam could happen 12" downstream from the tee in the primary pipe and grow 13" to block the Tee.

    I may be paranoid, but Murphy's Law has been apparent in every field of engineering I've experienced...

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