How To Prevent a Frozen Sump Discharge Line

Sure, it's only mid-October, but a month from now will be mid-November, when freezing temperatures are definitely possible. Now is the time to make sure your home is ready for the winter.


One of the dangers of freezing temps is a frozen sump discharge line, especially if the pipe is exposed outside your home. When a sump discharge line freezes, it causes all kinds of destructive problems - the water in the sump can't escape so the basement will likely flood, the sump pump motor will burn itself out, and the pipes themselves can crack or even burst. An efficiently working sump pump system is so important in the winter, when snow seeps into the ground and threatens to flood your basement!

Luckily, there are some steps you can take now to prevent a frozen sump discharge line this winter:

1. Make sure the discharge pipe is correctly sized and pitched. If the pipe diameter is too small, it leaves very little room for water to move through and will easily freeze solid. And if the pipe is laying on the ground horizontally without any slope, water will sit in the bottom of the pipe and freeze quickly (water doesn't freeze as easily when it's moving). It's important that the water is able to move freely and quickly through the pipe.

2. If you have a flexible discharge hose, disconnect it in the winter or replace it with hard PVC piping. Flexible pipes have many areas in them where water can settle, so they are prone to freezing.

3. Wrap the discharge line in pipe insulation or outdoor heat cable (only if the line is hard PVC). These can be bought at your local hardware store, and you can install it yourself.

4. The best thing you can do is hire a professional to bury your sump discharge pipe below the frost line and tie it into the storm drain system. The pipe will be safe from the biting cold air or piles of snow, which greatly reduces any risk of freezing. A pro will further reduce the chance of freezing by making sure the pipe is correctly pitched. An added bonus is that the unsightly pipe will be hidden, which will increase your home's curb appeal and allow you to create more attractive landscaping in the warmer months.

Whatever you choose to do, Universal Plumbing is always here to help! Give us a call at 586-459-0040 if you need help with anything sump-related.