If you’re looking for the best water powered sump pump you came to right place. Now, let’s imagine something real fast…
Rain is coming down in torrents, the wind is howling, lightning is flashing and the house is rocking. Suddenly – Bzzzt! – the power goes out. What do you worry most about? The freezer? The home theater? Your modem? Your microwave? Medical devices? Your sump pump?
If you lose power, your sump pump isn’t going to work. And if it’s pouring rain, you could have water backing up in your basement. To the rescue comes a water-powered sump pump. If power outages are common at your house, and your basement is susceptible to flooding, you need the best water-powered sump pump.
We have the best values in water-powered sump pumps right here in a handy list. We’ve skipped over the ones that will only work once and then die. These are the ones that will be dependable, day after day, rain after rain.
Another option is battery-powered backup sump pumps. We’ll take a look at the best battery backup sump pumps as well.
So, don’t be caught having to frantically file a claim with your insurance company. Insurance alone can end up costing more than the sump pump itself. Make sure you get a good sump pump so you can rest soundly.
5 Best Water-Powered Sump Pumps
1. Liberty SJ10 3/4 Inch Water-Powered Sump Pump – Overall Best Water-Powered Sump Pump
Best Feature: 2:1 Water Removed/Water Used Ratio
Here’s the thing about all water-powered sump pumps – even the best water-powered sump pumps have to have water pressure in order to work. Water rushing through the pump creates back pressure that draws up the water in your basement. Essentially, all the water-powered sump pumps work on the same basic scientific principle.
The SJ10 works very well, if installed properly. It is moderately challenging to install, but for many, moderately challenging means “pick up the phone and call a pro.” There are PVC connections to be made, and decisions to be made regarding what happens to the water that is pumped out of the basement.
The pump sits in a sump pit and is connected to a water line, which provides the power to push the water out of the pit. There is no turning the water-powered sump pump on or off. It operates when a float reaches an established point, at which it releases a valve that in turn releases the inbound water flow. It’s the opposite of the float in your toilet that shuts the water off when the tank level is reached.
The SJ-10 can pump water uphill to a point. The higher it has to pump water, the less efficient it is. But it’s still pretty amazing.
Here’s a table showing the expected output of the SJ-10:
- GPH* @ 0 feet – 1200
- GPH @ 5 feet – 1140
- GPH @ 10 feet – 990
- GPH @ 15 feet – 795
- GPH @ 20 feet – 615
*Gallons per hour
That it works at all with a 20-foot lift is pretty amazing. The numbers in the chart are based on a 3/4 inch line coming in, applying 60 PSI and a 1 1/2 inch port going out. Keep in mind that for every two gallons being pumped out, there is one gallon of municipal tap water coming in (and out again).
You can manually override the system for whatever reason.
The Liberty SJ-10 comes with a three-year warranty. But rather thinking of the warranty as protection against failure, think of it as the manufacturer’s conservative estimate of how long the product should last. No company will extend a warranty beyond the reasonable life expectancy of a product, so three years is a minimum estimate. If your unit isn’t called upon all that often, you could expect well beyond three years of useful service.
Overall, this is the best water powered sump pump on the market. If you consider its cost and its power, this is a great value too.
Best Feature: Dry-Mounted
Basepump has designed this water-powered sump pump system to be mounted above the swamp, so to speak. It mounts on the ceiling of the basement. That way, the pump stays high and dry.
Incoming water comes in at the same level as the pump, and the backpressure is still strong enough to be able to draw flood water from the sump pit below and flush it out of the house.
The pump is mounted on the side of a floor joist directly (or as close to it as possible) above the sump pit. A single, straight run of one-inch PVC from the sump pit to the pump is ideal, but minor “dog legs” around obstacles are permissible. Installation by a plumber is highly recommended, but if you’re handy with a hacksaw and PVC cement, it can be a DIY project. Plan on three to four hours in the basement.
At the very bottom of this PVC is a float system that activates a high water alarm, followed a few minutes later by activation of the pump. The alarm is an early warning measure so that if the homeowner doesn’t want the pump to activate, he can rush down to the basement and close the shutoff valve.
Pumping performance is charted below relative to the water pressure coming into the pump from the water supplier. The maximum lift height is rated at 15 feet above the level of the sump,
not the pump (which is mounted to a floor joist). The lift height is normalized to 10 feet in this reference, so at maximum lift, you should expect smaller totals:
- @ 40 PSI – 700 GPH
- @ 60 PSI – 750 GPH
- @ 80 PSI – 800 GPH
- @ 90 PSI – 900 GPH
A nice feature of this model is that it comes with nearly all the fittings needed. But nearly all, isn’t all, so here’s what you will need to supply: (1) 3/4-inch PVC supply pipe for intake and (2) one-inch PVC pipe for the run from the sump to the pump. Plus, you’ll need a 9-volt battery for the alarm. (If you want the alarm to sound. The battery is not needed for actual pump operation)
The RB750 is compatible with Radon covers, and comes with a very generous five-year warranty.
If warranty is a concern, this is the best water powered sump pump for you. It’s a little more expensive when compared to the Liberty sump pump, but you get a few more years of peace of mind (5-year warranty versus 3-year warranty).
Best Feature: Eliminates Worry About Backflow
Backflow sounds ominous and foreboding, and it is. It means something that you thought you had gotten rid of suddenly flows back to you. (A money backflow would be a good thing, though.) In plumbing circles, backflow refers to dirty (used) water reversing direction and flowing backward into a clean water source.
Your home’s plumbing system, assuming it was properly built, includes protective measures to keep dirty water from flowing back into municipal water supplies. This is necessary because massive power outages, breaks in the infrastructure of water lines, pump failure or just a cycle of low water pressure in your community can invite backflow.
But because water-powered backup sump pumps work pretty much outside of the network of your home’s plumbing system, they can contribute to the backflow risk. The RB750-AVB has what the manufacturer calls an Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker (AVP), which prevents backflow.
If you’re familiar with the term “nature abhors a vacuum,” you know that nature will not allow an unfilled space to remain unfilled. Something has to occupy that space. In the case of a water-powered sump pump, that something would be water, if not for the intervention of the AVP. Without the AVP, if the pressure on the outlet side is greater than the pressure on the inlet side, water would flow backward, into the incoming water supply.
Most AVP devices, including the one on the RB750-AVB Sump Pump, fill a pocket with air to equalize the pressure and prevent backflow.
Essentially the RB750-AVB is the same thing as the RB750, only it includes the atmospheric vacuum breaker. Installation is only marginally different, involving the necessity of making sure there’s room enough on the floor joist to account for the extra loop of pipe that includes the AVP.
This is another one of the best water powered sump pumps if warranty is a concern. It also has one of the best flow rates which is nice if power is a concern. The back flow prevention adds a little comfort too.
Best Feature: Fast Pumping
“Sir! We’re taking on water!” “Bilge pumps on!” OK, maybe what’s going on in your basement isn’t quite that dramatic, but when it’s your basement, you want the fastest mitigation you can get when the power’s out and water is seeping in through every nook and cranny in the foundation wall.
If you have the Basepump HB1000, you’ll have the fastest pump-out available among water-powered sump pumps. This is the cousin to Basepump RB750 and RB750AVP. It has the same high level pump location (on the ceiling of the basement; or more accurately, the floor joists to the first floor of the house), the same alarm capability, the same pipe connection ports.
But where this unit differs from other units by the same manufacturer and its rivals is the flow rate. At typical municipal water pressure (60 PSI) with a lift of 10 feet or less, the HB1000 can pump out 1000 gallons of water per hour. (Hence the model number?)
Below is the overall chart. You’ll notice that the chart includes inbound water pressures as high as 90 PSI. While that’s a pretty strong flow, and not ideal for most houses, it frequently runs that high in subdivisions when the water demand is lower than usual.
Basepump HB1000 Pump Rates*
- 40 PSI – 900 GPH
- 60 PSI – 1000 GPH
- 80 PSI – 1200 GPH
- 90 PSI – 1400 GPM
*Based on municipal or water district inlet water pressure.
Basepump seems to be very customer-focused. In the product description, it includes a toll-free number to call for anyone having questions. As with the RB750, the HB1000 comes with a five-year warranty.
If you’re interested in the HB1000 you might also be interested in the HB1000-PRO. This is the same pump pump, essentially, except for a few extra parts which will save you on overall installation costs. The additional parts include a brass dual check valve, brass shutoff valve, brass push-fit male adapter and a brass push-fit tee.
Best Feature: Backflow Prevention
The AVB water powered sump pump has the same impressive flow rate as the Basepump HB1000, but includes an atmospheric vacuum breaker. There is a greater need to have this kind of protection on the HB1000 than with pumps with a slower flow rate.
With a unit that discharges water as fast as this one does, the risk of backflow into the municipal water system is enhanced. The reason is that with a flow rate of 1000 gallons per hour (based on an average 60PSI inlet pressure), any lapse in water pressure on the inlet side of the pump could result in backflow.
The HB1000-AVB meets plumbing codes (but check local regulations to be sure) and is fully compatible with radon seals.
What to Look for in the Best Water-Powered Sump Pump
A flooded basement is never a good thing, even if you don’t have anything down there that could get ruined. Standing water promotes mold, mildew, fungus and rot; attracts critters you don’t even want to think about, creates a wave of humid air and after a while, it stinks.
A sump pump can make a big difference. It’s the number one defender against a flooded basement. Great, but when the power fizzles out, so does the sump pump. That’s where a non-electrical backup sump pump comes to the rescue. They run on water pressure, and discharge a lot of water (although not as much as a pump with a running motor would).
The best water-powered sump pumps are not terribly expensive, but it’s always a bummer spending money on something that may or may not even be needed. You have to be the judge on that score. If your area is subject to a lot of power outages, you probably should invest in one.
Some things to keep in mind when searching for the best water powered sump pump:
- A water-powered sump pump typically uses one gallon of clean water for every two gallons of dirty water it discharges. You have to pay for that water, and you also have to determine where that water goes when it leaves the basement. It needs to drain well away from the house, downhill, ideally tied to your overall drainage system. Otherwise, the water will percolate down through the soil and make its way right back into your basement.
- If you’re on a private well, your water pressure comes from a well pump, not the water district. If the lights go out, so does your water pressure. Therefore, buying a water-powered sump pump would be a totally wasted effort in this case.
Water Powered Sump Pump Flow Rate
For most of the best water-powered sump pumps on our list, we’ve posted charts showing the flow rate – how much water they should be able to discharge per hour. These are ratings, and not calculations based on actual performance. In other words, results may vary.
Even the best water-powered sump pumps have to contend with two primary factors that affect the flow rate (there are others, but these are the most crucial).
One factor is the lift – how high does the pump have to lift the water until it can be routed out of the house? The higher the lift, the less water can be discharged. It’s just simple gravity.
The other factor is inlet pressure. This is the water pressure of the potable (clean) water coming in from the municipal water system. The target water pressure is 60 PSI, but it’s nearly impossible for a water system to deliver the exact perfect water pressure to every customer, and is absolutely impossible when the demand fluctuates along the line.
In older neighborhoods with older infrastructure, the water district might keep the water pressure down a bit to protect old pipes. In densely-populated neighborhoods, where pipes are running in multiple directions at once, a sudden leap in demand can drastically lower water pressure, and a sudden drop in demand can drastically increase water pressure. Water pressure can run as low as 20 PSI (the minimum at which most water-powered sump pumps can operate) or as high as 90 PSI.
You may or may not know – or care – what your water pressure is. That’s fine, as long as you know that the performance of your water-powered sump pump will rise and fall with the rise and fall of water pressure. If you do want to know, there are water pressure gauges on the market, as well as ways of estimating water pressure based on how long it takes to fill up a bucket.
Plus, you might not be able to do much about how high the water has to be lifted in order to tie your backup sump pump to your drainage system. If you have a high lift, get a water-powered sump pump that performs well with high lifts.
There are some pumps that sit in the sump pit itself, and there are others that attach overhead, onto a floor joist (dry mount). The amount of lift, then, is from the sump pit to the point where the discharge exits the basement, regardless of the placement of the pump.
Be sure to consider these factors when looking for the best water-powered sump pump.
Sump Pump Installation
Unless you’re a plumber or are particularly handy with home improvement projects, it’s best to leave the installation of a water-powered sump pump to a plumber. It’s not so much the work, which is pretty easy to do with PVC pipes and cement, it’s the understanding of water principles that puts the amateur at a disadvantage.
Even the best water-powered sump pumps don’t make the installation any easier. Some do include some extra parts but you will probably still want a professional to handle the install. That said, the extra parts can lower the overall installation cost, so that’s something to factor in when you’re buying your sump pump.
Best Battery Powered Emergency Sump Pumps
A battery powered sump pump can be a great thing, but not one with a dead battery. For that reason, nearly all battery powered backup sump pumps ship with a charger (but not necessarily the battery). It’s hard enough for a homeowner to keep up with all the devices in the living areas of a house, let alone one that sits out of sight and out of mind in a hole in the basement.
The pumping power of these battery backup sump pumps is substantially greater than the water-powered versions, and the monitoring capabilities go way beyond a simple float that rides up and down in a cylinder of water. You’ll spend more for a battery powered sump pump, but you get a lot of peace of mind.
Best Feature: High Flow Rate
The Wayne ESP25 is a cast iron, made-in-the-USA beast of a sump pump can pump 1680 gallons of water per hour, lifting it 10 feet in the air. At zero lift, the volume takes a quantum leap to 2900 GPH. If your basement is flooded to the point where that’s not fast enough, you might want to consider pairing up the animals and getting them on the boat.
The 12-volt battery, which is similar to a car battery, is kept at proper voltage at all times, due to the smart charging capabilities of the included charger. It sits in a hard shell plastic case to keep it dry. When the lights go out, the pump kicks on if needed, and the battery will keep it running for hours. (And while it sure seems longer, the average power outage in the U.S. in 2017 was 81 minutes.)
The ESP25 has LED readouts to keep you informed of its readiness, and an alarm sounds if the pump has to kick on.
Installation is ideally pro-only, but it can be DIY if you go slow and follow the instructions. This product ships with a two-year limited warranty.
One bummer, however. It does not ship with a battery, and the battery isn’t cheap. That said, it’s still one of the best backup sump pumps on the market.
Best Feature: Automatic Operation
Woof! This watchdog barks! Well, not really, but it does let you know – with a beep – when there’s a problem and when maintenance is needed. The control panel is self-explanatory and shows battery strength, water levels and what is needed to keep everything in working order. Good boy!
Except for the maintenance, you really could ignore most of the other data, unless you just wanted to know. The Watchdog Sump Pump will do what it needs to without any input from its owner. Not only will it come on in the event of a power outage, it will also come on even when the main sump pump is working if it detects that the main sump pump is being overwhelmed.
At zero lift, the Watchdog BWSP can eliminate up to 2,500 gallons of water per hour. At 10 feet of lift, the number is still a very impressive 1,730 GPH. The pump is compact, and will fit in any size sump pit (there’s no standard size for them).
The battery – a 12-volt automotive type battery – is not included and has to be ordered separately. When you do order a battery, you have a choice of a maintenance-free battery or a wet cell battery, which ships “dry” and has to be activated with acid (included in a safe container).
This comes with a three-year limited warranty.
Best Feature: Can Lift up to 25 Feet
If your drainage system is at ground level and your basement is dug waaaay down in the ground, you might want to give the Superior battery-powered backup sump pump a long look. It can pump water up to 25 feet high. The flow rate at this height is 1380 gallons per hour, so we’re talking about a pretty powerful pump here.
Like the other battery-powered sump pumps, the 92910 runs off a 12-volt automotive type battery. And, like the other models, it doesn’t ship with a battery. (There are logistical reasons for that, and not because the companies are being chintzy.)
The unit comes on automatically when the float switch reaches a predetermined level, even if the main pump is still working. This helps in times of severe basement flooding, when the main pump can use all the help it can get. When it does come on, an alarm will sound, but the alarm can be muted, if so desired.
The kit includes the pump, a thermoplastic battery box, mounting hardware, alarm and spare fuse. A one-year warranty covers defects.
Sump Pump Batteries
While the batteries on these backup sump pumps are very similar to the batteries in your car, don’t try to substitute a $98 car battery for what is recommended. The batteries used in backup sump pumps are deep cycle batteries, capable of receiving frequent chargings and designed for a slow, steady drain. (Car batteries are built for a quick rush of voltage to start a car.)