Well, that was something. Flooded Basements, power outages, and sump pump backups.

My son's school was cancelled yesterday due to rain. RAIN. And you know what? It was the right call.
I have never seen it rain this much over a 24-hour period. Our streets were flooded, our backyard was a lake.

Fortunately, we cleared out that blockage in the underground gutter pipes last weekend.

Unfortunately, our backup sump pump battery died. 

And then the power went out. 
I don't know a lot about how sump pumps work. I mean, I understand the general concept - they push water from the lowest point in your house, up and out into the yard.

In my case, the sump feeds into the rain gutter system, and it all gets pushed into the yard. 

We have 2 sump pumps - both "Basement Watchdog" brand, which I gather is a pretty common
commercial-grade sump pump. 

The first pump is plugged into the wall. The second - which activates when the power is out - is powered by a large battery - looks a lot like a car battery. 

The idea is, if there's a major storm and the power is knocked out, the backup battery-powered sump will keep the basement from flooding. 

I have done literally no upkeep on this battery. Never topped off the water levels. Nothing. I'm still not exactly sure about how that's done. Needless to say, I'm going to start learning.

Last summer, we had three powerless days after a storm took out some power lines. The battery worked like a charm.

But later in the fall, we started getting alarms. I'd hit the reset button, and they'd go away for a while. Then, when the alarms wouldn't stop, I unplugged the battery, figuring it needed to be replaced. And like most things, I kind of forgot about it.

Until yesterday.

Suddenly, we had 6 inches of rain in 12 hours, a standing pond about 8 inches deep in our backyard, no power, and no battery backup.

Our basement had stayed dry to that point - but it wouldn't hold for long with no sump.

I went to 2 Home Depots, a Lowes, 2 ACE Hardwares, and a local plumbing supply shop - nothing but empty shelves.  The battery I needed was completely sold out in the Chicagoland area.

I lucked out in a north suburb and found one Basement Watchdog battery - not the big one I was looking for, but a smaller version that was "acceptable, but not ideal" for my system. Better than nothing. I bought it, bought the sulfuric acid pack I'd need to "start" the battery, and headed home.

Just then, the power came back. The basement stayed dry.

Our neighbors weren't so lucky. All around the village, I see curbside piles of waterlogged carpet from destroyed basements.

I never did open up the smaller battery - I'm going to order the larger 7.5 hour battery online today, and hold onto the smaller battery in the meantime, just to be safe.

An iOS connection?

But all of this has gotten me thinking - there has to be a better way to monitor basement flooding.

What if my wife wasn't at home keeping tabs on the basement while I drove around looking for batteries? What if we were all on vacation and had no idea? Can't someone design a project that will send me an iOS notification?

And lo and behold, there is.

Insteon Smarthome has a $34.99 leak sensor - a pretty simple, inconspicuous battery-powered device that sits on the floor and signals if it picks up moisture.

I'm definitely going to be adding a couple of these to our Insteon system.

But in the meantime, I eagerly await the arrival of our backup sump battery.

And any news whatsoever from Apple. Seriously, AAPL just fell below $400. Doesn't anyone in Cupertino know that part of the mystique about their product depends upon the conversation about their company? We can only keep up a one-sided conversation for so long, Apple!


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