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ELk Saved My Basement.. Need a little more help to check pump

Well I wanted to watch the Black Hawks last night but 8 minutes into the game my ELK Siren went off "Water in the basement!". So thank god I had a water alarm next to my Sump Pump. Did get some water on the carpet and cleaning that up was a pain. Missed most of the Hawks game :( But glad they won the Cup!
 
Anyway turns out the float switch stopped working. I know that's a common issue with a float switch. $40 and a trip to Home Depot and I was back in business.
 
Any idea how I could have better known that the switch failed? Any ideas? Any way to have some type of dual float switch?
 
Yes I know I can get a battery backup pump and I plan on doing this. But I was hoping I could get more disaster recovery from the main pump.
 
Thanks.
 
 
 
 
 

RAL

Senior Member
You could try adding a second float switch to keep tabs on whether the primary float switch is working or not.   But I've found that float switches have a degree of variability and don't always trip at exactly the same water level every time.
 
Another option would be to use a different type of water level sensor, like this tape type.
 
https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10221
 
Just mount it on the side of the sump hole and if the water level goes above the point where the float switch should trip, sound an alarm.  You'll need to add some additional circuitry to interface it to the M1, but that isn't difficult to do.   The data sheet shows some examples.
 
An ultrasonic sensor that measures the water level would be yet another option, although it tends to get more complicated to implement. BSR used something like this to measure water level in his water softener.
 

wuench

Senior Member
I use a CS-2029 sump pump water level sensor mounted just above the float.  Got it at AO but it doesn't look like they stock it anymore.  It has gone off a couple of times due to a stuck float.  it will notify you before water gets out of the well...  
 
I have since put in a battery backup pump, but still kept this as a last line of defense.
 

mikefamig

Senior Member
I installed a Basement Watchdog Big Combo
 
http://www.basementwatchdog.com/Basement_Watchdog_Combination_Systems.php
 
which is a dual pump each having it's own switch set at different levels and a battery backup. I like it now but I needed to alter it to make it work well for me. The way it works is that the first pump which is lower in the sump hole is powered by AC electricity and is set to go on at a lower water level than the second pump. If the first pump fails for any reason including power failure the second pump will come on at a little higher water level and powered by a deep cell marine battery. It also has a NC switch which I attached to my elk so that it will call me and text me in a failure (any time the second pump runs)
 
The problem with their design is that the lower primary pump had very very short cycle times and ran on and off constantly. I called the company and they told me that there was no way to adjust the magnetic switch and as far as I could see this is true. It has a floating donut that is mounted around a plastic shaft. Inside the shaft is a magnet. When the donut floats up away from the magnet the control unit is programmed to run for ten seconds and then quit. This just wasn't good enough for my situation and the thing was running constantly.
 
What I ended up doing was to replace their primary pump switch with a conventional vertical floating replacement switch that I was able to get at Home Depot.
 
Other than the cycle times it is a very nicely designed system and fits in a 12" diameter sump hole.
 
Mike.
 

wuench

Senior Member
I installed the Wayne Dalton combo and it will call you via a phone line and it has a built in alarm contact but i have never been able to get the alarm contact to work with the Elk (tried N/O, N/C, put a multimeter on it).  I called their support and got some vague powerpoint sent to me that talks about the need for a relay and the need to call an "alarm professional" to have it installed, other than that their "support" had no info....   So I would stay away from that product...
 

mikefamig

Senior Member
wuench said:
I installed the Wayne Dalton combo and it will call you via a phone line and it has a built in alarm contact but i have never been able to get the alarm contact to work with the Elk (tried N/O, N/C, put a multimeter on it).  I called their support and got some vague powerpoint sent to me that talks about the need for a relay and the need to call an "alarm professional" to have it installed, other than that their "support" had no info....   So I would stay away from that product...
What does the ohm meter show on the alarm contact in it's normal state and when ther is an alarm?
 
Mike.
 

NeverDie

Senior Member
Wouldn't a simple flood sensor meet your needs?  e.g. Here's a z-wave one:
 
718122496013_04493377.jpg

http://www.lowes.com/pd_422362-45367-TST01-1___?productId=4740940&pl=1&Ntt=flood+sensor#img
 
You'd just position the two metal probes at a height above your current float.  That way, if water were to bridge the gap between the two probe contacts, you'd know your sump or your float wasn't working properly.
 
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