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Article posted: 3/16/2013 5:00 AM

Local company greatly improves sump pump technology

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No one can deny it is comforting to hear your sump pump kick on when the rain is falling or the snow is rapidly melting.

Water problems can be a nightmare for homeowners. So, having pumps that effectively dispose of stormwater and sewage is imperative for anyone in the Chicago area who has a basement.

Metropolitan Industries Inc. of Romeoville has been developing and manufacturing pumps for residential, commercial, industrial and municipal use for more than 50 years. It began as a home-based business in Western Springs in 1957, moved to Downers Grove and incorporated as Metropolitan Pump Co. in 1963. In the early 1970s, the growing company moved to Lisle and a decade later again to Romeoville, where it now has a 100,000-square-foot facility for research and development, manufacturing, administration and warehousing, said John Kochan Jr., son of one of the company's founders and currently its president.

It turns out the company is particularly well located. Chicago is the largest sump pump market in the United States, thanks to its weather and topography. More pumps are sold in the Chicago area each year than in all of Canada, Kochan said.

In recent years, Metropolitan Industries has invested a large amount of time and money in developing energy-efficient "green" products, as well as digital products with no moving parts and "smart" products that can be monitored remotely.

In addition to sump pumps, it manufactures sewage ejector pumps that take care of the waste water coming from your basement bathroom or laundry room.

"Our engineers are innovators in harnessing the latest technology to develop complete systems, resulting in efficient and reliable operation in the field," Kochan said.

Ion StormPro pumps, for instance, are a line of durable, oil-filled, cast-iron pumps that are certified and tested to handle any pump application in the sump and sewage market.

These pumps come with the Ion Digital Level Control, a mechanism responsible for turning the pump on and off. This is the world's first intelligent level controller that uses microprocessor technology, replacing mechanical float switches that are known for high failure rates, Kochan said. The Ion has been tested and certified as expected to last for more than 2 million pumping cycles.

In addition, the Ion Gateway product, for instance, is equipped with wireless sensors that can alert a homeowner by computer or smartphone to a power outage. High water alarms are also available in certain products.

Across the board, Metropolitan Industries is also cutting energy consumption on its pumps.

"Our old pumps needed 8 amps of power while the newer ones come in at just under 4 amps. So they are cutting energy usage in half," Kochan said. "This is particularly good when you are using a battery backup because the lower the current draw of the pump, the longer the battery lasts."

Metropolitan Industries offers good/better/best products in each of its lines, which it recommends choosing between based on each particular application.

"Anyone with a finished basement should forget about the 'good' sump pump, for instance, and at least go with the 'better' model. We recommend the 'best' model -- which has a higher capacity -- for those who have had water issues in the past," he said.

"It is up to the homeowner, but if you look around your basement and start adding up what it would cost to replace the furnace, hot water heater, washer, dryer and furnishings, it adds up quick. So, it is best to choose a high-end sump pump with a battery backup because when do you need a pump most? When it is storming and the power goes out, of course," Kochan said.

"I recommend that people apply common sense and purchase the best pump they can within their budget," he added. "If you don't, you can spend lots on cleanup and mold abatement."

Metropolitan Industries pumps are sold exclusively through plumbing supply houses and plumbing contractors because "we are not the cheapest guys in town," Kochan said.

When buying a pump, quality is paramount, so homeowners should consider the purchase an investment in preserving their homes, he added. The pumps are not, however, particularly difficult to install, so do-it-yourselfers can certainly read the directions and install these pumps themselves, if they wish.

For more information about Metropolitan Industries Inc. pumps, visit www.metropolitanind.com or call (815) 886-9200.

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