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How to Prevent Your Sump Pump from Freezing

Updated: Jan 21


In many homes, a sump pump is needed to keep the basement from flooding. However, because it involves water it can easily freeze, especially during these cold winter months. If this happens, it can then cause the pump to fail due to overheating. This will ultimately cause serious damage to your basement. However, there are steps you can take to protect your home and keep your sump pump line from freezing.

  • Make sure that the sump pump discharge line is buried underground and not near the surface. Or, at the very least, the line should be on a downward slope as moving water is less likely to freeze.

  • Usually, freezing occurs when a pipe is touching the frost line. Therefore, you should burry the pipe at least 5 inches below the frost line. The frost line changes from place to place. You should be able to talk to the county or town to see how deep the frost line is.

  • If you end up choosing the above-ground option, then you should have your lines sloped. The end should be located at least 20 feet away from your foundation. As long as the water can’t pool, it usually won’t freeze. Be sure the end does not discharge near a sidewalk or driveway as this can cause ice build-up.

  • Insulating the sump pump discharge line is extremely important and could mark the difference between a frozen pipe and a functional pipe. You should do this for both the intake and the discharge lines. To do this, you can put a larger pipe around the sump pump pipe and this will help to prevent freezing. You can also put hay down over the pipe which acts as insulation. However, NEVER pour anti-freeze into the sump pump.

  • You should also be sure to check the pump regularly, especially if there is a large drop in temperature in your area. Make a habit of flexing above-ground pipes to ensure it hasn’t frozen.

  • If the pipe does freeze, you can use a space heater to thaw it. However, it is important to note that one of the leading causes of fires is space heaters and other external heat sources. Never use a blow torch to thaw a pipe.

  • If your pipe is frozen it is a good idea to call a professional. They will most likely recommend that you shut off the pump until they have the opportunity to unthaw it.

Freezing pipes are one of the biggest causes of water damage. If you do have water damage then you should call a professional water damage company immediately.