Storm Readiness- #Ryobi Generator to Backup a Basement Sump Pump

basement preparedness, storm ready with Ryobi generator

September is National Preparedness Month each year, but October is where the action is. As we’re living through the first tropical storm remnants to hit the east coast, I thought I’d share with you my basement’s new best friend, my Ryobi generator.

Is Your Basement Storm-Ready?

I know a generator isn’t sexy or pretty (or so you think), but you might want to read on anyway. It could save you money and headaches.

First, a bit of background. Our house is a whisker shy of one hundred years old. The basement has had some previous upgrades, including a french drain water management system and a sump pump. During Hurricane Irene, my family hid out in the basement from tornadoes in the area. It sounded like underground rapids coursing through our french drains, being efficiently evacuated from the house by our sump pump. So far, so good.

The big problem is the power. We’ve lost power before, but luckily never during a rain storm. But when we lose power during a storm someday, because odds are that it will happen, the sump pump won’t work. I’m not one of those doomsday-ers, but I do try to mitigate risks, like when I set up my family’s Go Bag for emergencies, which I’m pretty sure we’ll never, ever have to use.

I’ve spent the last two years researching how to be prepared for a power outage during a rain storm. This is what happens nearly every time it rains in my neighborhood, where cars regularly destroyed. Water is not a theoretical problem here.

sump pump backup generator

Sump Pump Backup Options

My local hardware store has a Battery Back Up Sump Pump System solution that’s easy enough for any plumber to install (not in my personal category of DIY projects.) It’s affordable at around $300 plus installation. But those backup solutions are only good for 4-6 hours, when the battery is drained, and good luck getting a replacement in the middle of a storm or prolonged outage. Our power outages are usually longer than that, and my husband’s office was recently out for 3 whole days!

I looked into a battery backup that a pump could just plug into, like this Duracell 852-1807 1,800 Watt Five Outlet Rechargeable Power Source. Looks good, and still affordable, but it’s not safe to use in a wet environment…like a flooding basement.

I researched a Water Powered Back-Up Pump, which is an even better price at under $200 plus installation, but I had a hard time getting a plumber to even talk with me about them. The downside is that if it does run, it uses your home’s water supply to siphon out the water from your sump pump pit. It must be professionally installed with a check valve, for between $800-$1,000. And in my area (every area is different), recent code changes require that this be installed with a testable back-flow device that must be tested on a yearly basis, for another $100 or so each year. So not only would it “waste” clean water in the event that we needed to use it, the lifetime cost could get pretty high.


My Sump Pump Backup Solution

By now, you know that I have a new crush on Ryobi tools. I was on their site after meeting them at Haven Conference and saw their generator that might solve my problems. I know a few people who have generators, but I never wanted to own a personal generator. And this is why:

generator safety when pwoering basement sump pump

I read all of the reviews on this little unit. Every. Single. One.

It is basically the size of a carry-on suitcase.

sump pump backup option luggage sized

It only needs a gallon of gas and a small bit of (included) oil installed through the front panel to get going. (You can get the front panel off with a regular old screwdriver. I’m just showing off my new drill here.)

gas-powered generator as sump pump backup solution

It is made to operate a sump pump (or other major appliance) by itself, or several smaller items at the same time.

It’s pretty quiet. Here’s my maiden run with this baby.

And the Ryobi 2200 is $550, available at The Home Depot. No plumber, electrician or special installation needed!

Now, for all my DIY and professional prowess, I’m going to admit something that I’m very proud of. I do not mow lawns. Ever. Our family’s division of labor is very clearly marked at the threshold. He mows the lawn. I take care of the inside.

Except now. This solution is all me and my Ryobi.

After about 15 pulls on the cord (takes more the first time; future starts should only take about 6 pulls), my little generator is up and running.

Should we lose our power, a long, heavy duty extension cord will string through a basement window and to the partially-covered front porch, where this baby will sit, powered for up to 8 hours on just ONE gallon of gas. I’m not worried about anything else in the house being out, but if my basement floods, that’s real damage we’ll have to recover from.

And- bonus- it has another outlet, so I can charge my cell phone, too!

The one review that sticks with me, someone wrote that it seems like a generator designed for a girl. Yep, that’s me, and lots of my friends. Oh, and I also think it would be great for just about any not-particularly-DIY urban or suburbanite family who just wanted to be more prepared without having a lot of resources and space tied up the 364 days a year that they aren’t needed.

I think this is just the right size and power to let me sleep better at night during this storm season.

Please tell me, and comment here. What do you think of my Ryobi readiness solution or your own basement situation?

Just in case you were wondering, this post is neither sponsored or paid. This generator was a good investment for us, and I was happy to spend my own money for this generator.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Marci

    This is exactly what we do with our sump pump, and we have definitely already had to use it! One recommendation I would add is getting a high quality chain and lock )and something to attach it to). Even a quite generator makes noise, which makes it noticeable to the public. Because the generator is portable, expensive, and highly valued in a crisis, I believe that makes is a BIG target for theft.

    1. Darla

      Good point, Marci. I had been thinking along those lines. Our bike locks might do the trick. The case of the unit has two great handles that would work well to chain it down. Thanks for the idea!

  2. Julie

    You are very smart to mitigate the risk. I know several people whose basements have flooded during a power outage. They each had over $10,000 in losses, which included their furnaces and water heaters. Additionally, some home owners’ policies do not cover basement flooding.

    1. Darla

      Basement flooding is just a mess. Ours flooded 7 years ago at the old house, while I was pregnant. It’s amazing what damage just 2 inches of water can do!

  3. Sabrina

    Great work. We use the water powered back-up system. It’s great for power outages. No wet basements when the power is out. Thank Goodness.

    1. Darla

      Glad it’s working for you. The water powered backup was definitely going to be our solution if I hadn’t found this. The key is having something in place. I think most folks assume their sump pump has a built in backup. It doesn’t.

  4. Curt Brennan

    Great idea, but be SURE to shop around for generators of this size. I just spotted a 6.5hp (212cc) with 3200 watts on sale now at Harbor Freight (in store and on line) that WAS $399 and now with coupon at $289.99 ( can spend a little more and buy their warranty if you want. (You can also check out “Costco” for a good deal too). As little as this generator might be used in your basement….it should last a LONG time. Just be sure (no matter what brand you buy) to DRAIN THE GAS OUT EACH SPRING. Drain the tank and then run the unit until all the gas is used up. Many brands of gasoline now have 10% ethynol in them and the gas starts to go bad in just a couple months.

    1. Darla

      Yes! Always take care of your tools. Just like a lawn mower needs annual maintenance, use or drain the gas and replace oil yearly. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Blair L.

    Hi Darla,

    You solution is awsome, but what if you are not home when the flooding occurs? No one can turn on the generator.

    There is a sump pump battery backup that claims to run for 7 days.

    Thanks for the post.

    1. Darla

      You are right, that’s a weak link. Sadly, I am always home, especially during heavy storms. A battery backup PLUS a generator would be a good redundant solution for some families, but not something we probably need just now. Do you have a link for the battery backup you mentioned? I’d love to make this info available to my readers.

      1. Dan

        I have a liberty SJ10 backup pump. They are powered by City Water, so no need for a battery or generator and come on automatically. Pretty sure mine has already saved me once during a power outage, but I wasn’t home to know if it actually had to kick on.

  6. stevenson

    Can I add extended fuel tank

    1. Darla

      I’m not sure about this. You might want to tweet to @RyobiOutdoors to ask.

  7. rampage site

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  8. George Britton

    Need a battery back up any names you can give me

    1. Darla

      Sorry. You can check Amazon for them.

Comments are closed.