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Old 08-27-2007, 08:16 PM   #21
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On top of that , plenty of people around me have the extra joy of having the waste sewers back up into their homes so they're cleaning raw sewage out of their houses as we speak.
Geez... I hope they were aware of this "defficiency" when they bought their house, however long ago.
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Old 08-27-2007, 08:16 PM   #22
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How often does one need a generator? I guess not too often and not for too long. May be a couple times a year, each lasting at most one day?
In my parents town they are still without power after 4 days.
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Old 08-27-2007, 08:22 PM   #23
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It would be nice if that was all I had to worry about, but the drains all pour into my 2 sumps.
Yikes.

Living on top of a ridge, exposed to all the hurricane winds & blowing rain, suddenly doesn't seem like such a bad deal...
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Old 08-27-2007, 08:23 PM   #24
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Geez... I hope they were aware of this "defficiency" when they bought their house, however long ago.
Actually, it's AGAINST THE LAW to install anything that stops the sewers from backing up into your basement drains.

Yes, I'm 100% serious.

This is why I want to do whatever I can to keep my sump pumps running
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Old 08-27-2007, 08:47 PM   #25
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A small back-up window AC and enough generator power capacity to run both it and critical appliances are nice things to have for those living along the Gulf Coast.
Or a little RV on the property with its own A/C, kitchen, bathroom (power off, municipal water down, no pressure, no flush), etc. Run the genset about 2 hours a day to recharge the house batteries, or to run the A/C.
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Old 08-27-2007, 09:04 PM   #26
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Old 08-27-2007, 09:22 PM   #27
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We have an 8000KW generator that is run on propane (No natural gas here). It was here when we bought the house. It is wired to run about 1/3 the house (all the critical things - fridge, certain lights, furnance, sump pumps, garage door openers etc). Its more than adequate, but if I was to do it again, I'd get a bigger more expensive one that
I'd hate to be paying your electric bills.
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Old 08-27-2007, 09:40 PM   #28
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Another option: Buy a small gasoline-powered pump to service your sumps. These are widely used on construction sites. It would be much more efficient fuel-wise (having the output shaft from the engine turning a pump vs having it turn a generator, which then runs a motor, which then turns a pump).

You'd probably still need a small generator to keep a few lights on and to power the fridge, charge up some batteries for the lanterns. You'd probably keep this turned off most of the time unless you've got a lot of gas or know how long the power will be out.

It sounds like the only answer to protecting your home if you are away is a big $$ automated start unit.

Like some others, we are on a well, so I've got a generator big enough to run our deep well pump. I haven't needed it yet, but I know someday I will. One of these days I'm going to build a low-tech water pot that will sit beside the muffler on the generator and heat water using the radiated heat. I'll bet even an inefficient set-up would easily get a gallon of water nice and hot after an hour.
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Old 08-27-2007, 11:34 PM   #29
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A) If you are on municipal water supply (I am not), get one of those back up pumps that works directly from water pressure. It's a venturi effect, no moving parts (just the float/valve). No batteries to maintain, no generator to start up, and cheap.

B) I bought a 2500 watt inverter, hooked up to a marine battery and a 'smart' charger. It seems to just idle running a 1/3 HP sump, and it was only about $200 (plus $60 battery from walmart - i had the charger).

Cobra CPI2550 $210 at amazon

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Old 08-29-2007, 03:52 PM   #30
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Actually, it's AGAINST THE LAW to install anything that stops the sewers from backing up into your basement drains.

Yes, I'm 100% serious.

This is why I want to do whatever I can to keep my sump pumps running
? Not in Chicago area... most 'newer' (less than 30 years old) have one way valves (check valve, I think it is called) that go from sump pumps (that the basement drains run into) to the street sewers. They also have overhead sewer lines so that the 'exit pipes' are above the level of the street sewers (water has a hard(er) time going uphill). In between your house and the street sewer (somewhere in the front lawn), some people have also installed one way valves, so if the sewers back up, they don't go into your house via the drain pipes.

The neighbors across the street had lost power for 3 days and neighbors on our side of the street were running extension cords across the street so that they could run their sump pumps. One new house (built 3 years ago) had his basement flooded (before he asked for help). We have been out of town for the past month and a half and 'missed' this. My next door neighbors and son have been watching my house. I don't have a back up (battery operated) sump pump on my 2 pumps (YET). I will have to seriously consider this now.

hmmm a condo and a boat is starting to sound a lot better to me now
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:37 PM   #31
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Went to the plumbing shop today. I am going to buy the "venturi effect" system ERD50 mentioned for the sump backup, they run $150 unfortunately they sold the last one this morning.
I stumbled past a pallet full of 5550 watt generators with a 10hp Briggs & Stratton engine at Home Depot today they were $499 if I had my wifes SUV I would be an owner right now. I had my little car and the box didn't look like it would fit.
Now that I am safely home my buyer's fever is coming down.
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Old 08-29-2007, 08:36 PM   #32
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? Not in Chicago area... most 'newer' (less than 30 years old) have one way valves (check valve, I think it is called) that go from sump pumps (that the basement drains run into) to the street sewers. They also have overhead sewer lines so that the 'exit pipes' are above the level of the street sewers (water has a hard(er) time going uphill). In between your house and the street sewer (somewhere in the front lawn), some people have also installed one way valves, so if the sewers back up, they don't go into your house via the drain pipes.
In our municipality, the building codes require that 'overhead sewer' lines be installed in ALL new construction. Current homes and homes being remodeled or re-habbed, are STRONGLY urged to install an in-line backflow preventer (aka - check valve).

After last week's storms, there are several hundred home owners, as well as several entire subdivisions, that are VERY unhappy that there homes were flooded by sewage backups. About 3 or 4 years ago we did a mass mailing to every property owner in town, of a brochure detailing exactly how to prevent sewer backups into their homes and businesses. Unfortunately, probably 98% of the local population felt that backups could NEVER happen to them. WRONG!

Many homeowners in the most affected areas, have illegally hooked up sump pumps, foundation drains, and downspouts into the sanitary sewer system. And that's the primary reason why most of them and their neighbors got sewer backups in the first place. City inspectors are now going door to door, inspecting all of the homes in the affected areas. Those that are found to have illegal hookups are looking at having legal action taken against them.

While I was still employed, I did 'new construction' sewer inspections, and had to shut down more than a few jobs because they were making illegal connections. We went by the 'letter of the law', and cut the installer absolutely NO slack. But I can guarantee that the homes and businesses that I inspected, had absolutely NO problem with backups last week!
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Old 08-30-2007, 10:20 AM   #33
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I'm in no way condoning this, perform at your own risk.

I'm also in the chicagoland area, near the fox river... during the recent storm my sump was 30 seconds on...30 seconds off....30 seconds on... repeat.

Anyway I have a little 3kw gas generator and a 'suicide cord' that I made up. Cord has a male plug on both ends - I flip off the main breaker coming into the house, plug the suicide cord into a garage outlet and my generator.

The generator can handle both my fridge and my sump, so I'm a happy camper.

And yes I know it is terribly dangerous and I will nearly certainly be killed, so please don't tell me so

- John
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Old 08-30-2007, 10:50 AM   #34
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Runchman, if you know the dangers...then go for it! We did the same thing after Hurricane Hugo in 1989. I grew up with an experimental electrician father and have now got an equally hazardous DH. They wired our house when it was built. You should have seen the "hot wire" they set up to the house breaker box from the temp pole. Bread bags and twist ties! What the heck, if you've got good life insurance....
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Old 08-30-2007, 11:03 AM   #35
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I have a little 3kw gas generator and a 'suicide cord' that I made up. Cord has a male plug on both ends - I flip off the main breaker coming into the house, plug the suicide cord into a garage outlet and my generator.
Did the same thing years ago. Except that it was a 4 prong "suicide cord" tied back to a 30 amp breaker. Rarely gets used. But nice to know I can heat the house and have lights in a multi-day outage.

Just be sure to cycle the main breaker OFF so you're not charging the outside lines.
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Old 08-30-2007, 01:35 PM   #36
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I'm in no way condoning this, perform at your own risk.

I'm also in the chicagoland area, near the fox river... during the recent storm my sump was 30 seconds on...30 seconds off....30 seconds on... repeat.

Anyway I have a little 3kw gas generator and a 'suicide cord' that I made up. Cord has a male plug on both ends - I flip off the main breaker coming into the house, plug the suicide cord into a garage outlet and my generator.

The generator can handle both my fridge and my sump, so I'm a happy camper.

And yes I know it is terribly dangerous and I will nearly certainly be killed, so please don't tell me so

- John
John,

You should also open the circuit breakers to all circuits other than the ones the fridge and sump pump are on. Otherwise you are asking the garage circuit breaker (15A or 20A) to carry the load for the whole house!
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Old 08-30-2007, 01:56 PM   #37
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Yeah, I flip off all my 220 breakers, and most of the other stuff is off anyway. Since I'm only feeding 1/2 the panel (one of the 120 legs), it seems ok.

But yes I completely agree I'm pumping all the current in through one 15 amp breaker, and you should absolutely limit what you feed that way.

I'd love to have an auto-on natural gas powered generator, but no way can I justify spending the money.

- John
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Old 08-30-2007, 02:42 PM   #38
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I agree with VACollector: a generator is a good one-time purchase of insurance. I have a well. Three times this year we lost power during thunderstorms. Not for long, but I had to remind everyone and myself NOT to flush or use any water. And being out on the end of the line makes me more vulnerable to outages I suspect.

I'm curious, does anyone know how much LP gas a 5KW generator would use per hour? And I suspect it is a function of the actual electrical demand isn't it? (I may need to dust off the old sliderule for this one.)
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Old 08-30-2007, 02:46 PM   #39
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I'd love to have an auto-on natural gas powered generator, but no way can I justify spending the money.

- John
When I went through the options, that was pretty attractive, except for the price of course.

Automatically kicks in, runs a test on itself every two weeks, can pretty much power the whole house (I probably couldn't have the well, AC and dryer on at the same time - but close). And it can run as long as your Natural Gas company keeps delivering.

I was wondering if it adds value to the house? I'm still trying to justify one

-ERD50
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Old 08-30-2007, 03:29 PM   #40
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The previous owner of my house (my ex-boss) had to watch his basement slowly flood when his power was off and he was without a generator.

So far the little portable generator has worked fine for me, but if this happens while I'm on vacation you can bet I'll be kicking myself for not getting the auto-cutover, big bucks system.

Somehow when you are hauling wet carpeting to the curb and watching mold grow on the drywall, that unreasonable system cost might not seem so unreasonable after all. Hope I never have to find out!
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