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Robert Lamoureux: What’s the best battery back up system?

Posted: January 7, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 7, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Hi Robert,

We were affected by the power outages in Pasadena. Thank goodness there weren’t any rains because we’ve got a sump pump hooked up at an underground bonus room.

Thank you,

Tony G.


Hi Tony,

There is a product available called Basepump. It’s a water-powered ejector with an atmospheric vacuum breaker.

Their website, states: "Water-powered pumps use a siphon ejector system that creates a vacuum source using potable city water pressure as its motive force. The ejector is comprised of a ‘tee’ configuration with three connection ports. The suction port is in contact with ground water in the sump via a pipe. The discharge port is piped outside the building and is an open drain, and the pressurized inlet port is connected to the potable water supply."

The pump works on an extremely efficient 2:1 ratio, meaning it will pull and discharge two gallons of sump water for every one gallon of house water that flows through the ejector. There are photographs and diagrams available on their site.

For installation, the Basepump is mounted on the ceiling directly above the sump pit so it can discharge sump water directly outside.

These systems are manufactured in Buffalo, NY and are available through major plumbing supply houses or on-line. If you’d like to order one, call the company directly and mention IMS for a 10 percent discount.



Mr. Lamoureux,

I’m a board member to a fairly large community. I also categorize all of your articles. My wife thinks I’m crazy, but hey. I remember about two years ago you did something on speed bumps. We’re looking to have speed bumps or speed humps put in at our property.


Franco D.


Hi Franco,

Speed bumps are short, usually about 18 inches wide. The maximum rise is 4 inches as permitted by the Fire Department.

The quantity of speed bumps also falls under the regulatory arm of the Fire Department as every bump slows fire trucks and ambulances.

Before you do anything, speak to the Fire Department, located inside the Building Department, and ascertain what is permissible in your community. It varies from agency to agency, so speak with them directly. You don’t want to just put them in at your discretion, then have the Fire Department come in and tell you to take them out because you have too many.

Speed humps are usually less than 4 inches high and are typically 10 to 12 feet from front to back. Choice between the two comes down to a matter of preference.

They’re both what we call "traffic calming" measures that accomplish the same goal, which is to slow vehicles down.

You want to be careful not to obstruct swales or gutters. Otherwise, you can use bolt-down or epoxy-down systems. Or you can use conventional asphalt. Hot asphalt, which will give you the least amount of problems, will tie into the existing asphalt street surface with a hot emulsion.

Then the speed bump is installed and hit with a roller.

Something I’ve seen companies do time and time again is to install speed bumps right at the bottom of someone’s driveway. If you want to start a fight, this is good way to do it.

So be considerate of all of the residents and fair with the placement. Keep them away from anyone’s approach to their driveways, and even where people place their trash cans.

I’ve found the best way is to go door to door in the immediate vicinity of where a speed bump is proposed and speak to the homeowners.


Hello Robert,

The retaining wall in my backyard fell down. It was a block wall about 60 feet long and 7 feet tall. You would not believe how loud this was. It was thunderous!

Jay G.


Hi Jay,

It’s a footing, not a foundation, and sight unseen, if the entire footing came up then there’s no doubt the footing was too small. If the wall rolled with no force and no rain, the footing was inadequate to begin with.

The first step is to get cleaned up. It would be best get a tractor, a Bobcat, back there with a breaker point to break it all apart and haul it out of there. It’s back-breaking work to do by hand.

Next you’ll need a structural engineer to design the footing and work out the specs for the steel. You’ll then need to take the plans to the building department and get it approved. I would explain the urgency to building department to get this done as soon as possible.

The onset of the rainy season is not a good time to lose a retaining wall. If you can’t get it done before the rains, I strongly suggest that you tarp the slope and use plenty of sand bags. Make it as secure as you can to make sure it doesn’t come down.


Hi Robert,

We have a subterranean garage. Our gate man tells us the loops are bad and he suggests a photo electric eye to save us money over repairing the loops.

Thank you,

Brigitte D.

Hi Brigitte,

The problem with the photo eye is anyone can touch the photo eye and set off its calibration, because it bounces off a reflector and back to the eye.

If somebody moves it, and the beam gets out of alignment, it will cause the gate to hold open. And, it takes a little know-how to be able to readjust them.

A loop detector, on the other hand, is in the ground so it’s much more secure.

It sends out a low impedance signal so when any piece of metal such as a shovel or an automobile travels over it, it breaks the signal, which causes the open relay to open the gate.

But, it won’t see pedestrian traffic whereas a photo eye will.

I have seen both applications installed, one photo eye for the pedestrians and a loop detector for the cars.

Everyone who sends in a question answered in this column will be given a full-color, limited edition The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt. The shirt is available for pick up at IMS Construction in Valencia.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia.

His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection.

Send your questions to


Could you provide the pros and cons of each?

Anyway, it looks like the all of the foundation came up out of the ground. Why would this have happened?

Is one preferential to the other? Would you elaborate?

During the power outage, we installed a battery back-up system. Had it started raining, I think my lower garage would have been under water even with the battery back-up.

We’ve got a home theater in that room and I want to avoid any potential problems. Should I replace the battery back-up system or is there anything I could add to it to give us a little more peace of mind?


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