Protecting Your Sump Pump in the Winter

Total-Insulations-frozen pipe

As the height of fall nears and winter approaches, it is important to prepare for the incoming cold. Families always remember to bundle up the children as the cold approaches, but not everyone remembers to prepare their home. With frozen pipes and snow drifts capable of causing thousands of dollars in damages, it is always important to take steps to prevent your sump pump from freezing. Follow these tips to avoid flooding and damage that can be caused by Mother Nature’s winter.

1.Avoid pumping water to a downward slope:

Home builders do not always take into account the level of the ground that a house is built on. Often times a natural slant in the land can cause water to run to the lowest point of the surface, which could be your home’s foundation. Naturally, your sump pump should always pump water lower than the exit point and away from your home. You never want to pump water into an elevated area as it could force the water to drain back into the pipe or towards the house. This could cause water to collect in one area and lead to a potential problem. In the winter time during cold temperatures, the water should be pushed out of the pipe and this should be aided by having a low exit point (the hose/pipe needs to be at a downward angle and directed away from the house). Properly installing and maintaining your sump pump and its parts can prevent water collection in the pipes and around the foundation, which when frozen could lead to costly damaged pipes.

sump pump pipe
Photo: Talking to Myself Again

2.Pump the water away from your home:

A sump pump’s purpose is to pump water out of a specific area – that’s a given. Many homeowners don’t realize how close to their home their water is being pumped. This can negate the effect of the sump pump, encouraging the water to drain back towards the house. If you are pumping water too close to your home, it could cause the water to drain back to the original point of flooding, making the situation a lot worse and potentially costing you a lot of money. Be sure to pump water at least 10-20 feet away from the foundation of your home. If needed, many hardware stores sell an insulated hose that can propel the water further away and help to protect your home in the winter time.

3.Utilize a larger diameter discharge hose:

Large sump pump discharge hoses may be an obtrusive object in the exterior design of a home, but they help keep the water flowing. Utilize gravity by pointing the pipe downward to help the outflow of water from the pipe. This is often one of the biggest challenges with keeping a sump pump running in the winter time.

4.Insulate the discharge pipe:

In the winter time, the earth’s ground creates a natural insulation, which usually keeps it warmer than the air. To help prevent freezing, bury your sump pump’s discharge pipe in the ground below the frost line (a 1/2 foot below the ground is recommended). Wrap heating tape and straw around the pipe to reinforce the insulation. Inside, try and keep the sump pump itself in an environment above 32 degrees F or 0 degrees C.

5.Always have a back-up plan:

To prepare for emergencies, always have a sump pump backup plan in place. Battery powered engine pump backups attach to your sump pump and can often run for as many as ten consecutive hours in a power outage. Along with hoses and other equipment, sump pump batteries and generators can be purchased at most large hardware stores.

A small investment now in your home’s sump pump may save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Follow these tips to keep your house and pipes safe as temperatures decline and winter arrives.

Sump pump
Photo: Tsurimi Pump 

Tell us about other tips that have worked for you! Or do you need to talk to a plumbing pro? Then you should check out eieihome’s professionals.