Found a Great Solution for Protecting Against Single Point Sump Pump Failures

(posted 6/11/2015) - Everyone with a basement eventually has a sump-pump failure. This is separate from the cases where electricity goes out. That failure can be dealt with via backup generator and an automatic transfer switch, or by running a local battery and inverter with built in auto-transfer switch. I'm talking about those cases where the primary sump-pump either fails to start or fails to draw water.

I have a single sump-pit and a single pipe going through the rim-joist to a 6" catch buried in the ground next to the house. The buried pvc pipe runs 75' to a dry-well in the front yard.

Faced with spending a sizable amount to create a separate pit, exit pipe route, and outside drain connection I was looking for something that would allow me to put two pumps in the pit (each with a check-valve), connected to a common exit pipe. The catch of course is that under no conditions must both pumps be allowed to run at the same time (over-pressure with damage to pumps results, and loss of total flow since the pumps are trying to fill the pipe at once).

An additional constraint was that I didn't want to use float level sensor based power switches. They are just not as reliable as the new pressure and conductance type solid state controllers. I needed a sophisticated pump-alternator that could choose which pump to power at any given time, and which could interface with a solid-state level sensor.

I found one; the Ion Genesis Pump Alternator (Link to manufacturer's website is here ). It is unique in that the unit provides a pressure transducer to measure water depth above the bottom sensor and a conductance sensor to detect water at any arbitrary high-point. These sensors connect into the unit and tell it when to turn on a pump. The controller alternates between pumps in the pit. Also, pump current and run time are monitored so that if a pump doesn't draw current or draws too much it is turned off and the alternate pump is started. Any failure in a pump sets a permanent audible alarm.

If the depth sensor loses communication an alarm is sounded until communication is regained. Once the fluid level reaches the high-point sensor a pump is turned on and run for 30 seconds.

A dual sensor failure (loss of communication) also turns on an audible alarm until the sensors regain communication. During duplex communication failure periods the controller runs pumps alternately for 30 seconds to prevent overheating and still insure any possible fluids are removed from the pit.

The pump alternator mounts on the wall and provides a digital read-out of sump fluid depth at all times. I'd say this is a good solution for anyone with concerns that a pump or level sensor failure might result in flooding. The solid state controller is said to be proof against any electrical conditions that do not trip the GFI and is tested to 2.5 million pump cycles.

The price? It sells for $450 including the controller, the pressure sensor, and the high-level sensor, along with mounting hardware to connect the sensors to the pump riser pipe. I was able to install the sensors on the front pump pipe without removing it from the pit!