06-18-2008, 11:14 PM
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First of all, there is no such thing as a dumb question. Your concern has been shared by many before you, and will continue to worry many hobbyists to come.
If your sump (and it's related plumbings) was designed properly, a power outage should not cause a flood. When you experience a power outage, the return pump will cease (obviously), as will your skimmer pump. The water in the tank will then drain to the level of the overflow. Usually, thats about 1/2 inch below the normal operating level. So long as you have a siphon break (a hole in the return line just below the water level of normal operation) the tank should not drain beyond this point. A properly designed sump will have accounted for this occasion and should be able to house any water that it may accumulate from the tank, the skimmer, and any plumbing.
Problems generally occur when people either fail to install a siphon break, or their syphon break hole becomes plugged over time. when this happens, the return line will act as a siphon and the tank will continue to drain until the waterline reaches the return outlet. Once the water reaches that point, air will enter the return line, thus breaking the siphon. Unfortunately, in most cases the return outlets are several inches below the minimum level of the overflow, and our sumps cannot handle that much excess water, so we end up with a flood.
So the key to remember here is, Make sure you have a siphon break hole drilled in your return line, and make sure you periodically check, and clean it out.