A power outage was all it took for one of Paul Hamtil’s clients to come calling. “Their power had gone out for an extended period of time, and they didn’t realize that their sump pump failed at some point during that time frame,” says the co-owner of Hamtil Construction, in St. Louis. In addition to cleaning up the mess, the company replaced the primary sump pump and sold the family a back-up pump as well.

Hamtil says he usually recommends that clients invest in a back-up sump pump and that he prefers using water-powered back-ups to battery-powered units.

“Battery-powered back-ups are more common because they’re easier to install,” Hamtil says. “I don’t use them because homeowners rarely think about maintaining them and changing the battery. If the battery dies, the equipment is useless.”

In choosing a water-powered back-up, Hamtil recently made the switch from Zoeller’s HomeGuard Max 503 to Liberty’s SumpJet SJ10 (shown). “I prefer using Zoeller for primary sump pumps, but their back-up unit had a lot of parts and pieces to assemble, and a piece of tubing that sometimes got pinched or twisted if the sump pit was tight,” he says. “There was a lot of potential for something to go wrong over time.”

The Liberty unit comes in one piece. “You just hook it up to the water supply and it’s ready to go,” Hamtil says. “There’s a lot less chance of a failure due to issues with parts and pieces, and that was worth switching for.” Hamtil notes that Zoeller has since introduced a one-piece water-powered back-up pump.

Have a product you love or recently had a reason to switch brands? E-mail lhunter@hanleywood.com with your story.

Code Check

While St. Louis remodeler Paul Hamtil prefers water-powered back-up sump pumps for their reliability, he notes that some localities require pulling a permit and hiring a plumber to install them. Battery-powered back-ups can often be installed by anyone without the need for a permit.