Plumbing in the Home/Backup Sump


I have a Zoeller primary pump with a super sump III for a battery backup (both 4 years old). When I got home last night, the alarm was screeching. I opened the lid and the water wasn't really high. From what I've read, the reason for the alarm is because the primary failed. So, I lifted the float on the primary and the pump worked. However, the alarm is supposed to shut off and it just kept going. I couldn't find anything under "troubleshooting" with regard to the alarm--just that it is supposed to shut off after the backup runs.

I unhooked the backup (not from the battery terminal, but two other connections.) I left it off for a few hours. I decided to plug it back in and it was fine, it said it was working and fully charged. I also filled the pit with water and the primary kicked on.

Also, the battery is no maintenance. I read the instructions and in a nutshell, I'm not supposed to do anything to it except of course replace it if necessary.

Initially, I tested the backup and it didn't go on. However, after I connected everything again, I tested the backup and it was fine. I didn't hear the alarm all night and all of the indicator lights are as they should be.

Due to all of the flooding in our area, I can't get a hold of Permaseal (need to leave a message) and I don't know if I should try to contact a plumber or wait to see if this happens again. Fortunately, this pit doesn't fill up quickly unless we get inches and inches of non-stop rain and it doesn't go on very often.

Is there anything else I can try? I tested both pumps more than once last night. I've done all of the testing I know how to do and I hate to have someone come out and try and charge me for things I don't need. Could this have been a fluke? This has never happened before but I will see what it is doing when I get home tonight. I'd appreciate any suggestions.

Dear Lisa,

    You're right to be concerned.  A system like you have needs to be monitored and checked out occasionally.

    I'm also impressed with the testing and troubleshooting that you've done....  most people wouldn't take that kind of initiative.

    These systems are most often tailored for the specific location... so any instructions would apply to the system components but not to the specific operation in your home.

    That being said, the alarm sounding may well have been a fluke... possibly something tripped it and it failed to reset until you removed the power.  In my experience though, an event like this usually does indicate at least a potential problem.

    For now, things do seem to be working... so I wouldn't worry too much.  Keep an eye on it, especially when you get rain.  But keep trying to reach a reputable plumber to come check it out.  Almost any plumber will have experience with these systems and can determine if anything needs to be changed or adjusted.

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Thomas Ambler


I am experienced at troubleshooting and solving all types of plumbing problems. Issues related to specific manufacturers fixtures and specifications though are beyond my field of expertise. I have dealt with problems in both rural and urban areas, and with water supply and drainage systems. Plumbing issues can be very obscure... such as odors, stains or occasional seepage. I have even had to chase rats from a customer's sewer line.


I have 25 years experience dealing with plumbing systems (which also includes hot water and steam heating systems). My main expertise is in diagnosing and solving problems. I have worked in construction and installation of new systems but do not regard myself as an expert in that area.

Asbury Park Press, Seattle Times, Denver Post.

I completed high school and one year of college. I served 4 years in the Marine Corps and have education in electronic and electrical troubleshooting and repair. I have attended classes on installing and repair of oil burners, and I have EPA universal certification for air conditioning and refrigeration. I am now enrolled as a full-time student at Everest college to re-train for a new career. Any donations of financial support would be greatly appreciated.

Past/Present Clients
All of Denny's Restaurants in NJ, Several Burger King stores, I have done work at two different homes for Bruce Springsteen. I have also worked for Jim Johnson (of J&J) and his family, Whitney Houston, Steve Forbes and many others.

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