6 Tips to Avoid a Frozen Sump Pump

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  • 3-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-100
What You'll Need
Work gloves
Insulation (recommended by local experts)
Zip ties
Discharge hose

There are certain times of year in which you need to keep a close eye on all the installations and appliances in your home that use water, particularly during the dead of winter when it is unbearably cold. Places like your water heater, your plumbing, and your sump pump all need to be watched so that they are not frozen during some of the colder temperatures around your home.

Sump pumps are most often used in areas where there is high water. In these areas, basements often have problems with dampness, mold, or flooding issues. The sump pump works to eject water from your home to prevent these problems.

Here are some tips that can help you make sure your sump pump remains running no matter what time of year.

1. Keep your water running to keep it from freezing.

Water freezes not only because it is incredibly cold, but also because the water is not moving. If you allow the water to pool in the bottom of your sump pump, it will be much more likely to freeze. While it may not seem like a big deal to have a small amount of frozen water in your sump pump, it can become a serious issue as more of the water is unable to flow properly from frozen chunks holding up movement. Additionally, the ice will then cause you sump pump to buckle under the pressure of the dense frozen water. Before you know it, the sump pump is a just a jar of frozen ice that no longer functions.

So, make sure that the water keeps moving. Water flow is not as heavy during colder months, so keep an eye on your device. If you notice water is icy and pooling inside the pit, alter the settings of your appliance. Most sump pumps can do more than their average pumping by just turning up the setting to make sure more water flows in and out. By keeping the water moving, you can keep your device from freezing and breaking.

2. Stop the water from meeting freezing air.

In many areas, where the land is flat, the water pipes meet the fresh air and have a tendency to freeze. This is especially true if the water flow has stopped because the water just sits in the outgoing hoses.

There are many options to fix this problem. One of the easier ones is to simply bury the line deeper in the ground. Make sure that as little of the pipe as possible meets daylight. Or, if you feel like a simpler fix, cover the pipe with hay and a tarp to keep it from being frozen by the outside air.

3. Give the sump pump a slight slope.

Another option to keep the water flowing is to make sure that gravity does all the work for you. When looking at where your sump pump’s pipes go, see if there is any way to make it less of a straight line and more of a slope. That way you can let the water flow naturally down. This will keep the water moving.

If you don’t have a natural slope around your home, you can make one. It doesn’t have to be steep, but rather continuous so that the water flows. Create a slide that turns into a drop-off or a ledge. Or, you can create a trench at the end of your sump pump line. This can help keep the water flowing even in a flat area. You may have to dig up your pipeline, but depending on how it’s positioned, creating more of a slope can keep your sump pump water moving smoothly.

4. Insulate your discharge line and your intake section.

This is a great way to make sure that water remains warm so that it can continue to move freely. Wrapping your discharge line, as well as your intake section, with insulation can prevent water from freezing and can contain leaks. It can also help keep those parts of your sump pump from being damaged by external elements.

Insulation does not need to be the same as what you use to insulate your home. Simply get what is recommended by your local hardware store. With a bit of insulation and a few zip ties, you will keep your pipes from freezing this winter.

5. Reduce its workload by redirecting water.

When the discharge hose begins to freeze, the motor is forced to work harder, putting it at risk of overheating and failing completely. Doing some work around the foundation of the property to direct water away from the basement lightens your sump pump’s workload, reducing the risk of it becoming blocked with frozen water. Landscaping also increases the gradient around the property so that water flows downhill.

6. Increase the distance between the pump and waste water area.

By connecting a freeze-resistant hose to the end of the discharge hose, you can increase the length of the discharge hose so that there is a greater distance between the property and the point where the waste water is flushed away. Aim for a distance of at least 20-feet away and use a smooth, rigid hose so that there is no place for water to collect.

This method can also be used when a backup pipe is connected to the pump. The backup pipe should be laid in a different direction to the main discharge hose so that it can be used if the main hose freezes.