& Territories
The Plumber
Q: How can I check my sump pump to be sure it's working?
A: All pumps have some kind of mechanism that causes the pump to turn on and off. The mechanism is called a "Float" and there are two general types. The first is a "captured" float, the second is a "pigtail" float. A captured float is secured to the pump and rises up and down in a straight line like a fishing bobber. As the water level increases the float rises as well. When the water rises high enough the float pushes on the rod it is attached to and electrical contact is made internally, causing the pump to run. If you reach down and gently pull up on this float assembly you will simulate the rising water and can verify that the pump is operating correctly. Once you release the float mechanism the pump should turn off. If you have a pigtail float you'll need to do basically the same procedure except that a pigtail float does not rise up and down on a vertical shaft like a captured float. It swings out away from the pump and once it has swung high enough, to an inverted position, the internal mechanism inside the float itself causes electric contact to be made. To test the unit invert the pigtail float until you feel or hear the mechanism slide. The pump should run until you release the float to it's normal position. If you are unable to remove the lid from your sump pit or cannot properly test the unit just call Galaxy Plumbing & Drain to come out and perform the test.

Q: I'm worried that my sump pump won't work if the electricity goes out. What can I do?
A: There are 2 kinds of back-up sump pumps available. Both are installed to operate in the case of an electrical outage. A Battery Back-up sump pump system uses a standard marine battery to operate a 2nd sump pump that is "piggy-backed" on top of your existing sump pump. These are great for the most part. Their drawback is that if the electricity is out for longer periods of time the battery eventually runs out. The other type of back-up system is a Hydro Back-up sump pump. They are also installed on top of your existing system but use water pressure to operate the pump. Since water pressure is rarely lost, even during a storm, these make great back-up systems. Their drawback is that it takes roughly 1 gallon of supply (fresh) water to evacuate 2 gallons of sump water. If water cost is high in your area then you could spend a few more dollars on water than anticipated. However, if it means saving your house from water damage, it's probably worth it. Galaxy Plumbing & Drain installs back-up sump pump systems. Call us to come out and discuss your options with you.

Q: I want to install a bathroom in my basement but the sewer pipe is above the floor level. Should I install a pump?
A: Yes. If you are trying to install any plumbing fixture drain that is below the existing sewer you will have to use a pump to lift the waste water to the level of the existing drain. From there it will flow by gravity with the rest of the sewage. A typical basement bathroom installation below sewer elevation requires a 1/2 HP sewage ejector pump installed in a neoprene pit 24" wide by 30" deep. (The measurements may vary slightly.) Please call Galaxy Plumbing & Drain if you are interested in having this work done. We will come out and give you a free proposal.

Q: Water heaters, faucets, toilets, etc. Is it better to repair or replace these items when they break? Is there a general rule?
A: There are several factors to consider but the general rule is the 50% rule. If you are going to spend over 50% of the replacement cost for a repair, you should consider replacement instead. However, even this rule can be misleading. For example, if you have a 15 year old water heater that needs repair I would consider replacing it no matter what the repair cost is just because of the age. Another example is a garbage disposal. Disposals last an average 7-10 years. Any repair needed inside the 7-10 year range should probably be skipped for a replacement instead. On the other hand, toilets can last quite a long time so repairs to your toilet are usually the way to go (at least until your toilet hits the 25-30 year mark).

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