Frequently Asked Questions
Q. "What is a float switch?"
A. The float switch is what turns your sump pump on and off in response to the water level in the pump pit. It's like a beach ball that "floats" on top of the water. When the water rises, the float rises with it. When it gets high enough, a switch inside the float closes and turns on the pump, draining the pit. When the water drops low enough, the switch inside the float opens and turns the pump off. The cycle is repeated hundreds, thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of times during the life of the switch.
Q. "Why will the float switch fail?"
A. The float switch can fail for any number of reasons. Many times the float simply gets stuck between the pump and the wall of the sump pit. That's because the pump vibrates slightly whenever it runs, and can "walk" across the bottom of the pit, eventually trapping the float between it and the side of the pit. Other times, after so many up and down cycles, it just gives out and stops responding to the rise and fall of the water in the pit. Often it stops working while the pump is running. When this happens, the pump is left switched on so that it runs continuously until it burns itself out. You can't do regular maintenance on a float switch; you can only replace it once it fails.
Q. "What is the life expectancy of the relay?"
A. The electrical life expectancy of general purpose and power relays is generally rated to be 100,000 operations minimum, while mechanical life expectancy may be one million, 10, or even 100 million operations. The reason electrical life is rated so low compared with mechanical life is because contact life is application dependent. The electrical rating applies to contacts switching their rated loads. When a set of contacts switches a load of less than rated value, contact life may be significantly greater. For example, 25 amp, 240V AC, 80% P.F. contacts may be expected to switch such a 25 amp load in excess of 100,000 operations. If these contacts are used to switch, say, a 5 amp, 120V AC resistive load, however, life may be in excess of a million operations.
Q. "What can I do to prevent water damage and float switch failure?"
A. Install a Hi-Lo SumpController. The SumpController does what the float switch does, only much, much better. The float switch hasn't changed much in the 75+ years it's been used to control sump pumps. It is a mechanical device that will eventually wear out. The SumpController, on the other hand, uses a reliable microprocessor technology to control the sump pump. It has no moving parts and uses reliable solid-state components to detect the rise and fall of the water in the sump pit.
Q. "How far apart can the Hi-Lo SumpController 'sensors' be placed vertically apart from each other?"
A. The Hi-Lo SumpController 'sensors' have no restrictions as to how close or how far apart they are placed vertically or horizontally. When water is below both the sensors then the pump will be off. When water is above both sensors the pump will be on.
Q. "We are very happy with this Electronic Hi-Lo Pump Switch. But, is there something available in case we have an electrical power failure?"
A. We offer a water powered back up sump pump made by Zoeller and also one made by Liberty Pumps. We also offer some 12 volt battery operated sump pumps. The Little Giant battery backup Emergency Sump Pump System is very reliable and we have not heard of any problems with them. We also offer a Failed Circuit Alarm which will signal an alarm when a circuit has failed. It's designed for use on refrigerators, freezers, hot tubs, heat lamps for animals, pumps, etc. It can be used with any 110v/120v appliance where it is important to know if the breaker or fuse has blown (or any power outage).
Q. "If I install this sump controller, will I ever have to replace it?"
A. Make sure to follow all of the manufacturer's instructions and directions by performing the proper maintenance and inspections to ensure that you are fully protected from flooding - this is ever-so-important with (man-made) safety devices as they will eventually fail.