Sump pumps are some of the most underrated devices within the home. Typically, they stay in below-grade areas, ensuring floods from incoming water don’t wreak havoc on the basement or crawl space. They are less fussy, meaning they work just fine in spring and summer.
Here in Richmond, VA, we do experience a cycle of freeze, thaw, and refreezing in winter. Wild temperature fluctuations can cause water to freeze or backup in the drains or discharge lines on the outside. This can lead to serious problems inside the home like water seepage and flooding. The cure for this has been letting the faucet drip so water doesn’t freeze. But how do you prevent ice from forming on the discharge line on the outside?
Why Do Drainage Lines Freeze?
When outside temperatures dip below 32°F, water will freeze. You’re likely to find puddles frozen and ice in your yard. Whenever the sump pump ejects water from the basement or crawl space, it can freeze on the discharge line due to the freezing conditions. Some homeowners don’t realize the freezing can happen on the pipes as well. Layers of ice will build up and eventually block water from exiting the line. Water from your basement or crawl space will back up, as it has nowhere to go.
What Can Happen When Discharge Lines Freeze?
Your basement or crawl space will start flooding and this can lead to severe foundation damage. In addition, your sump pump will run continually, then fail eventually because it’s overheating while trying to empty the basement or crawl space. How long this takes isn’t clear. But commercial-grade pumps can manage to function for some time before they burn out. Either way, sump pump failure is bad news for your basement or crawl space.
Protecting Your Discharge Line
While you can’t control the temperatures outside your home, you can take active measures to protect your sump pump and its discharge line. One way to do this is to construct the discharge line in a way that doesn’t freeze over. The discharge line for the sump pump should extend a minimum of 10 feet on the outside. If it ends right on the foundation wall, water will likely seep back into your basement or crawl space.
Typically, these lines are buried or extended out and above the grade. If you choose to bury yours, make sure they stay below the frost line. Pipes that run above the ground present a different challenge, but it’s one that can be remedied. When laying down these pipes, make sure they follow a downward slope so water keeps flowing. Water in the pipe is likely to freeze if the line runs straight horizontally. Changing the line’s gradient can mean the difference between keeping the basement or crawl space interior dry and allowing it to flood.
If you live in the Richmond, VA, area, where the sump pump’s discharge line is prone to freezing in winter, consider installing a FreezeGuard™. It’s the cure for frozen and blocked lines due to plummeting temperatures and ice. This anti-freeze device works like an overflow valve. Placed vertically, it allows water to escape through open slots without spilling during repeated pump cycles, forestalling basement or crawl space flooding.
Even if your drains or discharge lines freeze, the FreezeGuard™ will still be able to keep water out of your basement or crawl space. There’s less fuss, as it has no valves to turn and doesn’t require a hose to be attached.
Here are a few other tips to follow regarding your discharge lines.
- Insulate the intake section, as it’s vulnerable to freezing. A large diameter does the trick.
- If the discharge line freezes, thaw it with a portable heater, as it is non-intrusive.
- Inspect the sump basin regularly and test your sump pump to ensure it’s functioning properly.
Protect Your Sump Pump
Your sump pump has one purpose and that’s to expel water that seeps into your home. While this device sees little action in the dry summer, winter months can be particularly hard on it. You want to make sure it stays protected, and the best way to do that is to add a FreezeGuard™ to its discharge line.
Contact JES Foundation Repair today for a free inspection and quote and to have this anti-freeze discharge installed outside of your home. Our patented anti-freeze device bolsters your waterproofing efforts ensuring your basement or crawl space stays dry even during the coldest winter. Best of all, it’s compatible with various sump pump systems.