Sump pump overkill? TripleSafe review

I have no affiliate relationship with Basement Systems or any of its franchises, nor am I receiving any compensation for this post.

With our five year old sump pump on its last legs, replacing it was on the list of “while-you-are-at-it” projects when we rebuild the addition and finish the basement later this year or early next year. And while we’re at it (replacing the sump pump), we ought to look into some sort of battery backup in case of power failure. We could have waited and buried the cost into a project costing 6 figures. I could have got off my lazy butt and done the work myself. Instead, we shelled out considerable money now for a state of the art system that will guarantee we stay high and dry.

If you have done any research into foundation repairs or basement waterproofing, you have likely come across one of the many Basement Systems franchises that operate in Canada, the United States and the UK. This company has been on my radar for several years, but it was after a recent home show that I finally called them.

First of all, I love going to home shows, but it’s a tough sell for my wife and kid. Plus these things have a nasty habit of conflicting with other family-type obligations.  The last show I attended was back in about 2004.

But this year, with a major renovation looming on the horizon, I had a compelling argument for spending a few hours wandering from crowded booth to crowded booth.  And that when I saw it…

Cue the choir of angels

Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but I did pick up the brochure. On display at the booth of our local Basement Systems franchise was the TripleSafe Sump system.

TripleSafe Sump System
Image from Basement Systems. Used without permission.

Glorious in all its redundancy, the system is comprised of two sump pumps plus a battery operated back-up pump.  We live in an area that has been prone to power outages and in recent years we have experienced some incredibly heavy rainfalls so you can understand how attractive a system like this would be.

  • Pump #1:  1/3 hp primary pump
  • Pump #2:  1/2 hp secondary pump which sits higher in the pit.  Operates when pump #1 fails or is overwhelmed
  • Pump #3:  Battery operated back-up pump.  Operates when power is interrupted or if pumps #1 and #2 are overwhelmed or fail.
  • The system also includes the liner and air-tight cover.

Our current sump pump was five years old. The average lifespan of a sump pump is five to ten years. Our pump had a life-time warranty but it was only valid if we replaced the switch every two years and another part every five years. That routine maintenance would cost about the same as buying a new pump every five years.

old sump pit
The old sump pit. The cover hadn’t been used in over 5 years.
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Battery Back-up a must

I had also wanted to have some sort of power failure protection. I had looked into both water-powered and battery-powered options but after five years I was still relying on my single pump while keeping my fingers crossed that the power didn’t go out. Procrastinating on this issue might be an option while the basement remains unfinished, but we would have to address it eventually.

An air tight cover

While we are on the subject of procrastination, in five years I still had not got around to making a new cover for the sump pit. The wood cover had cut outs for the old pedestal pump. A new wood cover would not be air tight nor would it address the potential for mold growth.

The TripleSafe sump system not only solves all these issues, but it also looks mighty purty.

The installation

The installers had to jack-hammer the existing concrete pit to make room for the new liner– a messy and time-consuming job.  For the primary pump, they used the existing discharge line that we ran underground five years ago. They installed a new secondary line for the backup pump, running that out to a bubbler pot about 20 feet away from the house.  The entire installation took about four hours.  They completed the cement work and hauled away all the debris.

removing concrete sump liner.
Breaking up the old concrete liner.
Discharge line designed to avoid blockage due to freezing.
Bubbler in back yard, about 20 feet from the house.
The new sump pit.

Justifying the expense

  • The selling point of the TripleSafe system, aside from the redundancy, is that it is designed to all fit together, without any trial and error.
  • The professional installers were far more efficient than I would be as a DIYer.  I used to look at labor cost in terms of man-hours of those doing the work. However the more accurate way to look at the labor cost is to consider the man-hours it would take me as a do-it-yourselfer to complete the task. Based on that, the cost of labor goes way down.
  • Installing a larger pit required the use of a jackhammer. Drilling through the block for the discharge line required a rotary drill. These are tools I don’t have and would have to rent. In addition to the rental cost, I have learned to factor in the cost of fuel and the time to pick up and return those items.
  • I am looking at this as more than a stand-alone expense. We will eventually be finishing the basement, hopefully in conjunction with the rebuilding of the addition. I am considering this to be one part of the larger project. This investment now will also help protect our future investment.

I admit that I am rationalizing my decision to not attempt any DIY in favor of a “done-for you” solution. I could simply swap out the single pump myself for a tenth of the cost. Some might say that the TripleSafe is overkill. But overkill is a good thing. At the end of the day, we will have a system that can handle just about anything Mother Nature can throw at it.  For me that peace of mind is worth the expense.

Installation completed April 10, 2014.

16 Comments

  1. Good call Doug. No shame in bringing in the pros for a new system. In and out and they are done. I did the same thing with our swimming pool equipment. 2 hours of their time vs. days of my time. That’s a pretty sweet, powerhouse of a system you got there too. Great article.

    1. Thumb & Hammer

      I can rationalize and justify this expense all day long, but somewhere in the deep recesses of my DIY brain, I wonder if I opted for the installation of the TripleSafe over changing out the old pump, adding a battery backup and making a new lid myself. And somewhere in the deep recesses of my financial brain, I wonder if I can continue opting for “state-of-the-art” over “affordable.” Thanks for your comment, John.

  2. Domomic

    Very very nice, great choice. Im purchasing a Triple Safe myself in the coming month. Will have freeze guard and both pipes underground to far reaches of backyard. The pipes will also be fitted with warming cables that draw little power but work well. Have you seen yours in action yet during a heavy snow melt or a monster rain? Your response? Thoughts. How quite is it? How much vibration? Did you consider having the discharge pipes run directly over to the nearby wall at a line parallel to the floor just as they exit the pump and then run up the wall flush against it for added stability. Please let me know. Cheers. D. Jackson

    1. Thumb and Hammer

      We moved from that house last year, but have had the same system installed in our current house. In the old house, the main line discharged through a “big ‘O’ about 50 feet from the house” while the backup line ran about 20 feet to a bubbler. The only time I saw the backup line in use was when the installers tested it. I don’t know how often the secondary pump actually kicked on. As I recall, the system was very quiet and there wasn’t any noticeable vibration, but keep in mind that we were not using our basement, so I am making my judgement based mostly on what we could hear from the main floor, and from our occasional visits downstairs. I don’t know about running the pipes parallel with the floor. That would require a 90 degree elbow which I imagine would slow the flow of water. That would be something to ask the installers. There may be certain requirements as far as the number of elbows and total degree of bends. Frankly I just let the installers do their thing.

      We have had the same system installed in our current house along with a french drain system around the perimeter of the basement, following a minor flood. Those pumps are definitely out of sight, out of mind. I have no idea how often they run or if they have had to run at all. All I know is that our basement hasn’t had any water issues since the system was installed last summer.

      Hope this answers your questions. Cheers!

  3. Domomic

    Thumb, thank you for your detailed and quick response. So youre Cdn too! I live just outside Orangeville off Highway 9. Not to be personal but you mentioned that in your currentlatest house you have had a minor flood but that eveything has been good with the installation of a triple safe AND interior water trak system. During my consult with the basement professional i asked for 2 quotes. Full triple safe and wet trak and just full triple safe with no wet trak. I didnt call them because i had a water problem but rather i wanted a better pump system given the house i just bought has a higher water table which makes the pump go off every 18 – 25 minutes (its been a wet mild winter and in my last house just a few blocks away and the pump hardly ever went off). Plus the old owner has the discharge installed to the inside sewer which is against code, plus it was noisy and vibrated a lot. So did l have a “water problem or leak?”, No. So l just went with triple safe. Do i regret it? Well not yet and hopefully l wont have a leak. Long story but what i wanted to ask was what caused your minor flood? A leaky hot water tank or a crack in your basrment floor or side wall? Is your latest house newer or older? Was it failed weepers? Please let me know. My latest house is older than my last one but not too old, 25 years. Thanks. Dominic

  4. Domomic

    One last crazy question Doug. Seriously this will soind nuts. I just thought of this. Every picture on the net and brochure for the triple safe show its liner as having a series of holes on what appears to be exterior! And lm not talking about the weeper inlet holes. What are those holes? Am l missing something. Ive never seen a liner with thosr holes, only the weeper inlet holes. If the water comes in the triple safe wont it just filter out those holes???? What am l missing here??

  5. Thumb and Hammer

    There’s a lot here and I’m talking about 2 houses so I hope I don’t make this too confusing:

    The house in this blog post was about 50-60 years old. High water table as you describe. The original pump that was with the house when we bought it discharged into the same drain as the kitchen. We had a septic tank. Had pump #2 installed with an underground discharge line that came out about halfway in the back yard. Yard sloped down to a watershed. Water issues in the house were caused by structural issues and landscaping/drainage issues at the front of the house. Pump #2’s switch failed (which I bypassed with a tethered float switch) but I knew I need a back up system in case of power failure. Enter pump #3– the TripleSafe. This was intended as phase 1 of addressing water problems with the house. Phase 2 we planned to have an exterior membrane installed and correct any issues with the drainage around the footings. We sold the house before we got to phase 2.

    House #2 is about 38 years old. The “flood” happened about a month after we moved in so we don’t know the exact history of water issues with the house. Inspector pointed out some old water staining on the white trim so we knew water had come in at least once in the past. Flood happened as a result of a combination of issues. Heavy rainfall. Perimeter drains overwhelmed. Plus the sump pump failed because vertical float got wedged against side of the pit. Either it had moved due to vibration or possibly even got moved during our home inspection. But it was old and not in very good condition anyway, and we really wanted a battery back up as well, so chose the TripleSafe again.

    Of course, when they come out to give the estimate for the TripleSafe they try to up-sell you to the perimeter drain system (the WaterGuard). We were already going to be ripping up carpet and replacing damaged trim and/or drywall, so why not, eh? (Yes… I am Canadian). Maybe we needed it, maybe we didn’t. But I didn’t want to find out that we needed it AFTER refinishing the basement.

    We’ve had some heavy rains since and I’ve checked the WaterGuard drains (they have a couple of access points in case they ever need to be cleaned out) and the drains were completely dry, so the exterior weepers seem to be working okay.

    I took a look at the online pics of the TripleSafe and I *think* the holes that you are seeing are just dimples. They don’t look like perforations. (Are we looking at the same thing?) I have no idea what purpose they would serve. If memory serves the interior of the pit liner was smooth and solid, but don’t quote me on that. If you find anything out about this, please let me know.

    Hope this was helpful. Any more questions you know where to find me….

  6. Domomic

    Thanks so much Doug. Ya the “holes” lm talking about are even seen in your “used without permission” picture. Enlarge it and look for example of where the cut away line is showing the interior of the pump. Look at the cut away line where arrow # 1 touches the pump and you can see several vertical tiny holes in a pattern on the exterior. Once you know/see what lm referring to (maybe we are seeing the same just calling them different names) look at every picture online of the triple where it shows a view of the side of the liner. My God they look like holes but he behooves me as to why that would be if they actually are. Thanks again.

  7. I believe that the holes you are referring to are weep holes to allow ground water to acess the sump pit. If you are in an area where the ground under your floor is dry some water from the sump pit (weeping tile) may seep into the ground. I think the reasoning is that it would not cause any problems. Only my thoughts.

    1. Brent

      Just had it installed, definitely has holes all around it. I assume the thinking is that if the Groundwater is above the bottom of the pit, this allows that water to be pumped before it seeps through cold joints and cracks, which is a good thing. And if the Groundwater is below the bottom of the pump, it allows some water to drain into the groundwater below the system, causing no harm and reducing the workload on the pumps.

  8. kerry sirois

    I just discovered I have a triple safe sump pump system under this house I just bough. Basement Systems P/N 12556 with Water Watch II with a filter P/N 20160316-0085, it shows that this system was installed 4/29/2016, it has a MOD-N-ES-107 Class 2 battery Charger.
    So why all the info? I’m just curious about this system, I know it works because it discharged water for about 20 seconds, which is what prompted me to go and find out what’s going on. I have one of those clean crawl spaces with the white heavy visquin, and the sump pump area and everything around it are all spotlessly clean, I have all green lights. So I guess the question is, what do I need to know about this system and what do I have to do to maintain it?

  9. Kevin

    Had a super sump installed 6 months ago. Agree it is a great system, but I have a different problem. The contractor opened two holes in the tub which are below the water table level and as a result my sump runs consistently every 4 minutes. My question is can these holes be plugged. The few contractors I have spoken to say NO. Do you have any info on this or do you know who manufactures this product? Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Thumb and Hammer

      I found this forum thread that you may find helpful:

      https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?threads/high-water-table-sump-advice-needed.72560/

      To be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about sump pumps. I believe we had a high water table in the first house where we had the TripleSafe installed. The previous pump lasted about 5 years because it was running so often. Even in the summer drought, the water level in the pit would rise enough for the pump to kick on.

      My instinct in your case is to trust the installer, especially when other contractors seem to agree with them.

      I Googled “super sump” and the results show that it is a Basement Systems product.

      https://www.basementsystems.com/sump-pump/supersump.html

      I would direct any questions to the installer. You may want to upgrade / add a backup pump in case the first pump fails. OR you may be able to raise the pump up higher inside the liner. That may get you above the water table so, while you will always have water in the pit, it will be below the level where it trips the switch for the pump.

      Consider this: if you plug the holes, where will that water go?

      Also, make sure you manage the rain water from the outside (grading sloped away from the house, clean gutters and downspouts, and downspouts discharging several feet from the foundation). It won’t affect the water table level, but it will affect the amount of water your sump pump will have to move.

      I originally had a Ridgid pump in my pit and, like I said, it ran almost constantly and lasted 5 years before the switch failed.

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