How To Prevent Sump Pump Freezing in Chicago Winters


How To Prevent Sump Pump Freezing in Chicago Winters

If there is one thing everyone can count on living in Chicago area is at some point during the winter, it is going to get cold.  Freezing Cold.  Some winters are worse than others and those freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on your home if proper planning and maintenance is not performed.  When it gets really cold for an extended period of time, a common problem people have is a frozen sump pump discharge line.  When the line freezes, the sump pump cannot discharge water and could overheat or fail.

Common Causes
Sump Pump discharge lines can freeze for a number of reasons.  The most common cause for discharge lines to freeze up is the discharge pipe is connected to a small hose laid across the ground.  Many homeowners think that a 2” line that is the same size as the discharge pipe is fine for moving water away from the house.  They are cheap, flexible and can be run 20-30 feet away from the foundation.  The problem is, these lines freeze up quickly because of the longer distance and, commonly, lack of proper pitch.  What starts off as a 2” pipe will soon shrink every time the pump runs, adding another layer of ice inside the pipe.  The colder it gets the faster the line freezes shut.  Once the sump pump cannot get water out, it can start leaking out of a loose fitting or blow out altogether.  If you are home you might hear it.  Imagine if it happened while you are at work or worse, out of town.  You might come home to a basement full of water, ruining everything.  If you don’t get a leak or blowout, the pump will likely burn itself out because it is trying to pump water and it cannot.  Once it’s burned out, you will have water in your basement if you don’t have a battery backup sump system acting as a secondary pump. 

What to Do
If you live in the City of Chicago, all sump pumps are supposed to pump into the sewer system so freeze ups should not be a problem.  Most everywhere else requires the sump pump to drain to your yard or municipal storm system.  A properly installed Underground Sump Pump Discharge Extension will get the water away from your foundation without the worries of a freeze up.

First you want to make sure the discharge pipe from your sump pump is large enough.  All sump pumps should have at least a 1½” discharge line to the exterior.  Anything less and the amount of water the pump can move decreases.  There should also be a check valve to make sure all the water not getting to the outside doesn’t rush back into the basin. Your pump will run more often when it has to keep pumping the same water. 

Once outside the house, the water needs to get to a larger pipe buried underground and pitched away from the house.  One important factor is the pipe needs to have an air break, no solid connection between the buried pipe and the pipe from the house.  If the water in the underground line should freeze, at least the water can still get to the ground and not back up.  At the end of the run, a bubbler pot should be installed to disperse the water.  Failure to include this often results in the end of a pipe getting buried by grass and dirt.

Each of these details are important as skipping one of them will result in less than desirable results.  If you would like to know how U.S. Waterproofing can make sure you will not suffer from a freeze up again, give us a call at 800-323-3628 or book a free appointment online.


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