Since my daughter and son-in-law bought their first house in Ohio a couple of years ago, it has provided fodder for many a remedial project for the HomeFixated community. The house is basically sound, but the previous owners were a tad lax on the maintenance front, so they’ve been fixing it up and updating it a bit at a time. One thing I always noticed when we stayed there is that the sump pump kicked on periodically, and when it did, it didn’t sound very healthy. Thunks, buzzing, loud humming—many strange and scary sounds that probably weren’t there when it was new. When the folks at Wayne Pumps dialed us in for this sponsored post and offered to provide one of their Wayne’s AdvanTEXT systems, which sends a text message to alert you to various problems, it seemed like a good opportunity to banish the scary noises – and gain a little peace of mind.
We’ve never had a sump pump, so I’ve never been sure exactly how they work or what they’re intended to do. I knew they were supposed to get the water out of that hole in the basement floor, but what the hell was that water doing there in the first place? In my daughter’s house, the sump pit is the landing place for perimeter drains, which encircle the house, gathering water from around the foundation. Two 4” drain pipes empty into it, and in wet weather, a fair amount of water ends up in the sump pit. The old pump was far beyond its prime, and struggled to keep up with the inflow. When I removed it, the float was up, which is supposed to trigger the pump to run and empty the pit, but nothing was happening, not even scary noises.
Wayne’s AdvanTEXT system is designed to have everything you need to connect to the discharge piping, for either a new installation, or a replacement with the added alert system. It came packed in a sturdy carton, with beefy molded cardboard inserts. It’s ready to go right out of the box, and includes all the various hose clamps and zip ties needed for any type of installation.
Even though it went against my nature, I decided to actually read the instructions, being a sump pump rookie. Here’s a quick video overview of the Wayne’s AdvanTEXT system:
Pump It Up
If you’re connecting the AdvanTEXT system to an existing sump pump, feel free to skip to the next section. (You’ll miss some scary pics, though!) If you’re putting in a new pump along with the alert system, here we go! It turns out sump pump systems are pretty straightforward, and replacing the decrepit old pump and connecting Wayne’s AdvanTEXT system was quick and easy.
After unplugging the old pump, I pulled the lid off the sump pump, and gazed into the murky depths. The old pump had a piece of PVC pipe threaded into its base, extending upward. A few feet up, there was a break in the pipe, where a check valve had been installed. This is a necessity in any sump pump system; it keeps water from flowing backward through the discharge pipe when the pump shuts off, and refilling the sump pit. According to Tina, a rep from Wayne Pumps, the closer you can get the check valve to the pump, the better, to minimize back flow.
I removed the hose clamp from beneath the check valve, and wiggled the discharge pipe free. The pump just sits in the pit, so I was able to lift it out, and get some clues as to why it might have been making scary noises, and not functioning so well. It was covered in muck, and the intake vents around the bottom were probably 90% blocked by stones, muck and mystery debris. Hard to say how old it was, but it looked like it had lived a hard life…
The old pump had a section of PVC discharge pipe threaded into the base. I took a pair of adjustable pliers and backed it out, cleaned up the threads, and it screwed right into the Wayne’s AdvanTEXT pump unit. This is a fairly standard configuration, and makes it very simple to replace an old pump. I dropped the pump into the pit, wiggled it back into the fitting beneath the backflow valve, and tightened the hose clamp. I used a couple of the zip ties to attach the wires to the discharge pipe, and the pump replacement was complete! Total time: about ten minutes.
Note: At the time I replaced the pump, the water in the pit was about a foot deep. As soon as I plugged the pump into the power outlet, the pump kicked on, and drained the entire pit in about six seconds. And it was QUIET – almost no noise, scary or otherwise! The pump is of excellent quality; it’s very solid and sturdy, and appears very well made. One other installation note: Although this has nothing to do with the pump system, it’s an important safety consideration. The original pump was plugged into a standard outlet, right next to the breaker box. It was NOT a GFCI outlet, nor was it on a GFCI breaker. In fact, the outlet wasn’t even grounded! Not the best setup for a damp location, powering a device submerged in water…If your setup is similar, we strongly recommend you change out the outlet and install a GFCI outlet. That’s what I did after the installation was complete.
Wayne’s AdvanTEXT – Your Sump Pump Has Its Own Phone!
Now comes Phase II of the Wayne’s AdvanTEXT Cellular Flood Alarm System installation. The Wayne’s AdvanTEXT actually has the capability to send and receive text messages, to keep you updated on the status of your sump pump. There is a two-stage float system that straps onto the discharge pipe, with the provided hose clamps. Adjust it to the level you want, and tighten the clamps.
According to the manufacturer, the floats should hang a few inches above the top of the float on your sump pump motor. The exact height will vary depending on the size of your sump pit and the power of your sump pump motor. The generalization is that you should hang the sensors at a height that allows for ample time to receive a notification and do something about the problem before a flood occurs. Note: be sure to hang the Pit Sensors away from the inlet pipe so that water won’t flow over the sensor and cause a false alarm. The wire that runs from the float to the control module can also be zip tied to the discharge pipe, to keep things neat.
Before mounting the control unit, install four AA batteries in the back. These batteries allow the unit to alert you even if the power goes out; in fact, it ALERTS you that the power is out! The control unit itself can be mounted to the discharge pipe, using hose clamps, or with two screws to any nearby surface. The instructions advise to use an interior wall if needed for better reception, but the unit I got worked fine on the exterior wall, mounted adjacent to the breaker box.
Plug the data cord that comes off the floats into the bottom of the unit. Next, plug the power cord from the Wayne’s AdvanTEXT unit into a GFCI outlet, and a red light will illuminate on the front panel. This will change to blinking green, as the unit discovers the cellular network, then to solid green when communication has been established.
Next, there’s a brief setup process for the cellular system. There’s a unit ID and promo code on the side of the Wayne’s AdvanTEXT unit; copy them down, grab a credit card, and fire up your PC. After logging in to the web address found in the instructions, you’ll provide a little basic information, including the numbers off the AdvanTEXT unit. There’s a minimal monthly fee for the cellular connection, currently $3.95 a month, payable annually. The promo code on the side of the unit may give you a discount.
After completing the online setup, you’ll get two emails. The first will be a receipt for the credit card transaction. The second will be your activation confirmation, with a dedicated phone number for your Wayne’s AdvanTEXT unit – something like OMG, ur ok 2 go! (Your sump pump may not get the significance of a smiley face…) Add the new phone number to the contacts in your phone, with a name of your choosing. You can call it whatever you want—“My sump pump,” “Angelina Jolie” or “Groxyl the SewageMaster” will work equally well, you just need to remember what you named it.
The final step in the setup is to let your new BFF know who to alert when the water is on the rise. Send a text message to the unit’s phone number with the first number you want notified, using the format “phone1 1234567890”. The system will chirp twice, letting you know the number has been received and programmed in. It will then send a confirmation text to that number. Use the same format for up to two more numbers you want notified, using phone2 and phone3 plus the numbers. And that’s it—the system is programmed! You can confirm it’s working properly by pressing the “TEST” button on the front of the Wayne’s AdvanTEXT unit. A status message will be sent to all the numbers you programmed in.
You can also manually test the various functions, to make sure alerts go out. Lift the lower float for a few seconds; an alarm should sound, and a text message should go out. Let it go, and a second message will be sent, alerting you that things are back to normal. Repeat the process with the upper float, and unplug the unit for a minute to make sure you get the “power lost” and “power restored” alert messages. I tried all of these, and they all worked fine, sending a message to all three numbers.
The Wayne’s AdvanTEXT System In Action
Once the system is installed and set up, it operates like any other sump pump system during normal conditions. If there’s a problem, though, and the water rises high enough to lift the first float, you’ll get a text message to that effect, along with an audible alarm in the basement. If it continues to rise, and lifts the second float—another message and another alarm, letting you know. If the water level drops, the Wayne’s AdvanTEXT system keeps you advised, and it also alerts you when the power goes out—and when it comes back on. Here’s a full list of all the conditions that will trigger an alert:
• Water is detected by lower float.
• Water is detected by upper float.
• Water is no longer detected by lower float.
• Water is no longer detected by upper float.
• Electrical power was lost to AdvanTEXT.
• Electrical power has returned to AdvanTEXT.
• The backup batteries are low and should be replaced soon.
• The backup batteries are critically low and should be replaced immediately.
• Your spouse is on the way home with a HUGE chore list for you.
Just kidding about the last one, to see if you’re still paying attention. If they manage to perfect that one, though, I’ll gladly pay a premium.
You can also send messages to the system any time you want. Texting “status” will, not surprisingly, generate a text message giving the current status of the system. Texting “settings” will get you a message listing all the settings (phone numbers, etc.) currently stored in the Wayne’s AdvanTEXT unit. Using the provided instructions, you can also change notification numbers, or give your unit a unique name, like “Swiss Chalet” or “Vail Lodge”, in the event your real estate holdings are substantially more extensive than mine. (If so, please feel free to add me to your party list).
Keep In Touch With YOUR Sump Pump!
For anyone who’s away from home a lot, doesn’t get down to the basement often, or for folks with vacation or rental property, this system can provide a lot of peace of mind. This is especially true for anyone with a finished basement – all those furnishings, flooring, Back Street Boys cd’s and so on can cost a mint to replace. Even without a finished basement, though, rising water can do a lot of damage; that’s frequently where the furnace, water heater, washer and dryer, and other mechanicals are located. Most basements have plenty of other expensive or important items, too; I have a lot of tools that wouldn’t fare too well under a foot or so of water, and we have gobs of God-knows-what stored down there, all of which my wife claims is critically important to the survival of the planet…
According to the folks at Wayne, over the past five years, the average flood insurance claim was more than $35,000. If you’ve ever experienced a flood, I’m sure you know the cleanup can be a massive effort, and must be done quickly, within the first 48 hours, to avoid mold. Getting a heads-up in time can help you actually avoid a lot of aggravation and expense altogether. The Wayne’s AdvanTEXT system is available directly from the folks at Wayne Pumps. The ½ h.p. WTX502 Pump with the AdvanTEXT system is a very reasonable $325, or Wayne’s AdvanTEXT system for existing pumps is available for $189.