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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
submerged.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 Landfills

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.

Conclusion

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:

 

 

 

In a letter sent to all residents every year, the city of Bloomington, Illinois, voices its concerns with the use of water powered sump pumps stating:

  • Water powered sump pumps can use large quantities of water in a very short time
  • Water powered sump pumps can have a profound impact on the City Services bill for the property

The Bloomington Water Department goes on to say, “there are alternatives that do not have the risk of high water consumption.”  Adding, “a battery backup for the sump sump pump can usually provide hours of safe pump protection without the cost of water use.”

Many other municipalities would be served well by following this well thought out example. Click here to see the message on their website.

We get alot of questions as to “what’s the big deal with these pumps?” So here’s a 3 main points to consider when thinking about installing a water powered sump pump.

1.  Waste of fresh water.  Depending on efficiency, lift and city water pressure, most water-powered sump pumps draw up to 600 gallons of fresh drinking water per hour. Based on a conservative estimate of 300,000 water-powered sump pumps in the U.S., if on average each one wastes 2,400 gallons per year,  (based on two, four hour power outages a year where the pump is only activated half that time = 4 hours x 600 gallons per pump, equals 2,400 gallons per year), that equals 720,000 million gallons of water wasted: 720 million gallons of fresh drinking water – please tell us how a device like this is a responsible product in these times?

2. Potential Health Hazard. Water-powered sump pumps connect directly to the fresh drinking water supply line to the building, in some circumstances, the owner may connect the pump with a rubber garden hose to a nearby faucet.  Since all water-powered pumps must be connected directly to the water supply, they must have backflow protection – unfortunately, many are installed without this. 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 health risk.

3. Strain on public resources. A water powered sump pump is most likely to be engaged during a power outage in a rain storm. This is when municipality’s reserves are most valuable. These pumps running could cause unnecessary strain and force public water systems to fall below minimum storage levels. This endangers city resources such as fire protection and public safety.  This could prevent the fire department from fighting a fire from a lightning strike that caused all of this in the first place, and there’s no way to turn these off because they come on automatically.

Please think twice about installing one of these wasteful pumps. The environment, your family and your community is counting on you.