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More Water Restrictions – Another Case Against Water Powered Sump Pumps

With Summer officially here, watering restrictions are becoming more commonplace. “Local villages have instituted watering restrictions due to the high temperatures and dry conditions expected this weekend and into next week.” was the opening sentence in the Lincolnshire review, covering Lincolnshire Illinois and surrounding communities.

We take water for granted, as it’s always right there at the nearest faucet, but stories like this make us think. Add in that the National Resources Defense Council says over 1/3rd of the counties in the United States will be suffering from water shortages by 2050, this type of reporting will be the norm on a widespread basis and at all times of the year.

Taking shorter showers, turning the water off when you brush your teeth and making sure the dishwasher is full before running it are some of the easy steps we all can take to reduce water consumption. And when it comes time to upgrade plumbing fixtures in the home look for products with the WaterSense label and make sure you don’t install a water powered sump pump, use a qualified battery backup sump pump instead.




How does a water powered sump pump work?

These pumps operate by taking the energy in municipal-supplied water at full pressure, run through a venturi device, positioned on the bottom of the sump pit in a basement. They connect directly to the fresh drinking water supply line of a house, or in some circumstances, homeowners connect the pump with a rubber garden hose to their kitchen faucet or laundry tub faucett. When the pump is activated, clean fresh drinking water is released into the sump pit where the pressure is used to sort of “vacuum” the water up and out of the house.  Most of these models pull up 1 gallon of waste water, for each gallon of fresh water used.  Then, both are dumped out onto the lawn or into the sewer system that already has an overflow of storm water in it.

Using a water powered sump pump is certainly not the smart way to handle stormwater.

Did you also know, in times of heavy demand when there’s a low-pressure situation, contaminated water may be sucked back into the fresh water drinking supply causing a substantial health risk!!

So why pour fresh drinking water down the sewer and possibly risk your family’s life?

There’s no need to do so.  Battery-powered backup sump pumps have been readily available for over 30 years. They’re reliable, don’t waste water and pose no health risk.

Whatever the name, water powered sump pump, water driven pump or just a water pump, this product is used to pump water out of a sump basin by using fresh drinking. The pressure coming from the municipal water supply is mixed with the sump basin water and this device acts like a vacuum to suck the water out. This recent story from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, reports that “Aqua” Indiana, is asking its residents to voluntarily reduce water consumption stating:

“Aqua has been able to meet the demand for water so far … but if water use continues at its current rate, there is some concern the system will not be able to maintain adequate water pressure for its customers or fire protection, the statement said.”

There’s a very important line – “there is some concern the system will not be able to maintain adequate water pressure for its customers.” When this happens, the pumping capacity (which is already low) is marginalized even more, putting you at risk for a flood.

Water pumps waste fresh water, must have proper backflow protection installed to protect the homeowners and are susceptible to low pumping volume. Stay away from these water pumps, there are better choices when it comes to backup sump pumps.



How much water is on earth?

June 6th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

This is a great illustration from Gizmodo which really drives home the point of why water conservation is so important. Kind of scary actually. That’s why we advocate to get rid of water wasting products like water pumps or water powered sump pumps.

A Water Powered Sump Pump may sound like a cool idea, however the premise of using municipal water to pump out your sump pit comes with serious drawbacks:

1.  The waste of fresh drinking water. How many times have you seen a commercial about a faucet, or toilet, or dishwater and the amount of water they SAVE. Alot, that’s because it’s important. These water powered sump pumps totally waste fresh drinking water, using a water powered sump is like dumping hundreds of gallons of water out on your lawn.

2. They have to be installed with the proper backflow device. In a low pressure situation (water main break, hydrant flushing, fire nearby, power goes out in the municipality which would affect the pumping stations) dirty contaminated water from your sump pit can be sucked into the fresh drinking water supply, creating a huge health hazard.

This is where the plumbing pro comes in. Most manufacturers of water powered sump pumps say right in the instructions, that an RPZ (highest level and most expensive backflow protection) must be installed with the unit. An RPZ must be installed to city and state code and most of the time requires a city permit. Most of the time this is above a do-it-yourselfer and its money well spent in hiring a licensed plumber. In addition, the RPZ requires an annual inspection by a registered backflow tester. If you install a water powered sump pump without an RPZ, you’re skimping on protection and putting your family at risk.

The best thing to do, is forget the water powered sump pump and choose a reliable battery backup sump pump, where you have none of the water wasting and non of the potential health hazards associated with water powered sump pumps.







The two issue’s with water powered sump pumps are:

1.  The irresponsible waste of water

2.  The possible contamination issue that could present a health issue for families

We’re happy to see towns such as Bloomington, Illinois call out water-powered sump pumps for water conservation, we’re also happy to see states such as Ohio, that have also called-out water powered sump pumps and are recognizing the potential dangers and are now requiring specific code for water-powered sump pumps. This is taken directly from the Ohio plumbing code:

First a definition of “Contamination:”

CONTAMINATION. An impairment of the quality of the potable water that creates an actual hazard to the public health through poisoning or through the spread of disease by sewage, industrial fluids or waste.

Then the water powered sump pump code:

608.12 Pumps and other appliances. Water pumps, water-powered sump pumps, filters, softeners, tanks and all other devices that handle or treat potable water shall be protected against contamination.

Resulting in this type of backflow device

608.13.2 Reduced pressure principle backflow preventers. Reduced pressure principle backflow preventers shall conform to ASSE 1013, AWWA C511, CAN/CSA B64.4 or CSA B64.4.1. Reduced pressure detector assembly
backflow preventers shall conform to ASSE 1047. These devices shall be permitted to be installed where subject to continuous pressure conditions. The relief opening shall discharge by air gap and shall be prevented from being

Which the definition is this:

REDUCED PRESSURE PRINCIPLE BACKFLOW PREVENTER. A backflow prevention device consisting of two independently acting check valves, internally force-loaded to a normally closed position and separated by an intermediate chamber (or zone) in which there is an automatic relief means of venting to the atmosphere, internally loaded to a normally open position between two tightly closing shutoff valves and with a means for testing for tightness of the checks and opening of the relief means.

What does all this mean?

This means you have to have a professional plumber install this device which is expensive to install (+$200) plus requires a third party to check its operation every year.

Why go through the hassles of all of this when you can help protect the environment and protect the health of your family with a battery backup sump pump. Most manufacturers of water powered sump pumps, ALSO make battery backup sump pumps. Choose one of those over a water powered sump pump.







Water powered backup sump pumps bought in a box store often are made with cheap parts that wear out or break easily, and usually come with sub-standard backflow protection.

For example, some of the water powered sump pumps are hooked up by using a garden hose. In this case the backflow device (necessary protection in case of a reverse backflow which would suck contaminated water into the fresh water drinking supply) can easily omitted by the homeowner putting the family at risk.

Also, there’s been numerous reports of garden hoses that have burst when hooked up to the water powered backup sump pump which actually FLOODS the basement! Wasn’t this device purchased to try and stop the basement from flooding. In addition, the switch which activates the pump often comes with a flimsy spring, this spring can easily wear out or become unattached causing the pump to operate continuously!! Many times the homeowner won’t even know it until the water bill comes and then it’s a huge shock.

Lastly, it’s recommended that water driven backup pumps be activated at least once a month manually, otherwise calcium will form on the switch, again causing it to break when needed most.

So when you ask “Is a water powered sump pump safe?” “Is a water powered backup sump pump reliable?” “Is a water powered backup sump pump easy to maintain?”  the answer is NO! The best way to SAFELY and RELIABLY protect your basement from flooding  is with a battery backup sump pumps.  Many manufactures who make water powered sump pumps, also make battery backup sump pumps, choose a battery backup sump pump instead.







Great article in the February issue of  “Plumbing and Mechanical” concerning water conservation.  Highlights include:

  • Water conservation is moving from trend to mandate
  • Water conservation efforts will move from common plumbing products (faucets, toilets, shower heads etc…) to a new range of applications that need to be addressed
  • The plumbing professional has an important role in communicating the importance of water-saving applications

We love that line “Water conservation moves from trend to mandate.”  Water conservation is not a fad, its a real issue. Part of the challenge in educating the public with this message, is that water is easily taken for granted. Turn the faucet on and it’s there. However, a recent government survey showed at least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013. 2013!

That’s why we believe water powered sump pumps should not be used as a backup sump pump. Using fresh drinking water to pump out sump pit water just doesn’t make sense in an age when water conservation is so important. If water conservation wasn’t so important, why the mass movement toward water efficient plumbing products? And as this article states, the plumbing industry will start to expand its reach to begin making water-efficient products other than common household products. That’s why you should think twice about installing a water wasting, water powered or water driven sump pump.

Choose a reliable battery backup unit instead, they’re more powerful than a water powered sump pump,  they’re reliable and they conserve water.

To read the entire article “Blue is the New Green” please click here.






One of the main concerns about water-powered sump pumps, besides the un-necessary waste of fresh drinking water, is the potential health hazard they possess.

Since all water-powered pumps must be connected directly to the fresh water supply of the house, they must have backflow protection.

Should there be a loss of positive water pressure coming from the water supply, water flow can reverse and flow from the home and rush backwards into the water pipes of the home  – in other words;  the potential exists for contaminated water being sucked back into the fresh water drinking supply, causing a substantial health risk for people that use a water driven pump.

This report for the EPA “A Citizens Guide to Ground Water Protection” clearly identifies the many contaminates found in groundwater that gets pushed into sump pits during storms, snowmelt, lawn irrigation etc…the following excerpts are from the report.

How Does Ground Water Become Contaminated?

 Ground-water contamination can originate on the surface of the ground, in the ground above the water table, or in the ground below the water table.

What Kinds of Substances Can Contaminate Ground Water, and Where Do They Come From?

Substances that can contaminate ground water can be divided into two basic categories: substances that occur naturally and substances produced or introduced by man’s activities. Substances that occur naturally include minerals such as iron, calcium, and selenium. Substances resulting from man’s activities include synthetic organic chemicals and hydrocarbons (e.g., solvents, pesticides, petroleum products); landfill leachates (liquids that have dripped through the landfill and carry dissolved substances from the waste materials), containing such substances as heavy metals and organic decomposition products; salt; bacteria; and viruses. A significant number of today’s ground-water contamination problems stem from man’s activities and can be introduced into ground water from a variety of sources.

Septic Tanks, Cesspools, and Privies

A major cause of ground-water contamination in many areas of the United States is effluent, or outflow, from septic tanks, cesspools, and privies. Approximately one fourth of all homes in the United States rely on septic systems to dispose of their human wastes. If these systems are improperly sited, designed, constructed, or maintained, they can allow contamination of the ground water by bacteria, nitrates, viruses, synthetic detergents, household chemicals, and chlorides.

Although each system can make an insignificant contribution to ground water contamination, the sheer number of such systems and their wide spread use in every area that does not have a public sewage treatment system makes them serious contamination sources.

Surface Impoundments

Another potentially significant source of ground-water contamination is the more than 180,000 surface impoundments (e.g., ponds, lagoons) used by municipalities, industries, and businesses to store, treat, and dispose of a variety of liquid wastes and wastewater Although these impoundments are supposed to be sealed with compacted clay soils or plastic liners, leaks can and do develop.

Agricultural Activities

Agricultural activities also can make significant contributions to ground-water contamination with the millions of tons of fertilizers and pesticides spread on the ground and from the storage and disposal of livestock wastes. Homeowners, too, can contribute to this type of ground-water pollution with the chemicals they apply to their lawns, rosebushes, tomato plants, and other garden plants.


There are approximately 500 hazardous waste land disposal facilities and more than 16,000 municipal and other landfills nationwide.

Underground Storage Tanks

Between five and six million underground storage tanks are used to store a variety of materials, including gasoline, fuel oil, and numerous chemicals. The average life span of these tanks is 18 years, and over time, exposure to the elements causes them to corrode. Now, hundreds of thousands of these tanks are estimated to be leaking, and many are contaminating ground water.

Highway De-icing

A similar flushing mechanism also applies to the salt that is used to de-ice roads and highways throughout the country every winter More than 11 million tons of salt are applied to roads in the United States annually, As ice and snow melt or rain subsequently falls, the salt is washed into the surrounding soil where it can work its way down to the ground water. Salt also can find its way into ground water from improperly protected storage stockpiles.


From this report it’s easy to see the many ways ground water becomes contaminated, it’s easy to see how common man-made chemicals such as soap, bleach or drain opener can find their way into groundwater. Plus, storm drains carry runoff from lawns, driveways and streets. The runoff could contain pesticides, chemicals used to enhance lawn growth, oil, brake fluid or gasoline.

On top of that, natural bacteria found in sewage pose the greatest health risk and minerals such as iron, calcium, and selenium can also naturally be found in ground water.

The bottom line is, water-powered sump pumps MUST ALWAYS be hooked up with the proper backflow device. When the backflow device is improperly hooked up or even worse, if a homeowner forgets to do this or omits this step, in times of a back-pressure situation, (water main break, flushing the hydrants, local fire where the hydrants are tapped by the fire department etc…) this contaminated water can be sucked back into the fresh drinking water supply exposing the homeowner and his or her family to serious illness.





Just read this article and wanted to pass it along. In a recent Yahoo! Real Estate survey of current and aspiring homeowners, the so-called American dream home “Isn’t a supersized McMansion – it is a ‘green,’ energy-efficient home built with ‘sustainable’ materials that yield a lower carbon footprint. Or, more often, it is a home remodeled with energy-efficient appliances and eco-friendly home products.”

The survey found, at at the top of the list, 50% of people consider green/energy efficient appliances/materials as a requirement of their dream home – it is more popular than perennial favorites such as “building a custom home” (38%); “water views” (38%) and “mountain views” (32%);

The article goes on to say many eco-conscious homeowners , rather than build or buy new homes, “seek to lower their carbon footprint by purchasing more energy efficient appliances or making other home modifications that may include the addition of solar panels to offset other energy costs.”

As you can see being more aware of the environment is becoming more and more important to a broader range of people. That’s why we believe so strongly in raising the issue about water powered sump pumps. A product that uses FRESH DRINKING WATER in a wasteful manner is not green. Water powered sump pumps are irresponsible when there are viable alternatives. We’ve said this before, when shopping for a device to keep your basement dry, most manufacturers of water powered or water driven sump pumps also make battery backup sumps as well, which are more powerful , easier to install AND promote water conservation.  Help yourself and the environment and stay away from water powered sump pumps.

For the complete article click here: