How to prevent sump pump discharge pipe from freezing

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Can someone suggest a way to prevent my outdoor, sump pump discharge pipe from freezing in winter, which ultimately causes my sump pump to continue to run due to the backing up of water from the frozen pipe? It's an L shaped PVC pipe, that exits the house into a black flexible pipe underground. The elbow tends to freeze up first, causing further freezing of the pipe. I usually have to run the removable pipe through hot water to dislodge the ice, which means i have to check it daily in dead of winter. But i'd like to prevent this from happening in the first place. thanks in advance!!!
  8 answers
  • William William on Nov 28, 2016
    Common Freeze Prevention Methods *****

    The sump pit has a line that goes from the pump up and out of the basement. That line is then connected to a discharge line that leads the water 10-20 feet away from the house. The discharge line is either buried in the yard, or extended out above-grade at a downward slope, both of which will help prevent it from freezing. The section of pipe where the pipe meets the ground at the frost line (and again at the end of the line where the water disperses) is where the discharge line commonly freezes. It is recommended to bury the pipe at least 5 inches below the frost line––and if you opt for an above grade solution, extend the discharge line at least 10 feet away from the foundation wall. *****

    The sump pit has a line that goes from the pump up and out of the basement. That line is then connected to a discharge line that leads the water 10-20 feet away from the house. The discharge line is usually buried in the yard, which will help prevent it from freezing. It is recommended to bury the pipe at least 5 inches below the frost line. The section of pipe where the pipe meets the ground at the frost line (and again at the end of the line where the water disperses) is where the discharge line commonly freezes. *****

    Some discharge lines have an alternative drain at the intake section to allow for the water that is pulled out the basement to drain by the house. If the discharge line is frozen, the pipe will allow for the water to drain by the foundation rather than flooding the basement. *****

    Insulating the discharge line and the intake section of the line is a good defense against freezing. You may want to consider heat tape, an electric cable tied to a thermostat used to wrap your pipes and prevent them from freezing. Don’t use automotive anti-freeze in the sump pump. *****

    Make sure that your discharge line has a proper grade and is flowing away from the house. Gravity will help keep the water flowing. Standing water in the pipe is more likely to freeze. Also, if there isn’t a proper slope the water may trickle back into the pipe and freeze with the ice blocking the pipe. *****

    If you sump pump line is already frozen, try thawing it with portable heaters. Don’t use a blow torch to thaw the line. The risk of hurting your house or yourself is too great. If you are sure the line is frozen and want to keep the pump from burning out, consider disconnecting the sump pump until you or a professional waterproofing contractor can thaw out the line. A professional can help thaw the line, check for breaks or leaks, and check for damage to the sump pump.
  • Barb Barb on Nov 29, 2016
    we had this happen to us in 2011...4 foot of water backed up into the basement. We were on an extended business trip. Our daughter discovered the "disaster". Apparently the pipe that went thru the basement wall outside is what froze...not the line in the ground. Fire dept cut off the pipe trying to figure out what had happened and discovered the 6" block of ice. Here is what we did in the Spring....I bought insulated wrap at the local hardware store and wrapped the outside pipe...You can also buy a heat strip with heat coils that hook up to an outside outlet. Our solution of the insulated tape (foil topped) worked just fine.....Good luck. this is a crappy messy problem...

    • Lisa Lisa on Nov 29, 2016
      Thank you Barb, this is EXACTLY what I fear happening. I was wondering if insulation would work bc I didn't have anything actually keeping the pipe warm in first place. But I will try it anyway!! Thanks again!!
  • Linda Keser Linda Keser on Dec 12, 2016
    Can you wrap the pipe with electric heat tape? You can buy it at your local DIY store. Using heat tape on pipes was a requirement when I lived in a mobile home park. It's easy to apply. If it will be exposed to the weather make sure it's protected from rain. Ask your DIY store if you have questions.
  • Johanne Desaulniers Johanne Desaulniers on Dec 15, 2016
    REMOVE THE STOP BACK WATER RETURN AN PUT A LITTLE LAMP IN THE CAB OR HOLE WHERE IS YOUR PUMP AN YOU CAN BE SURE THAT IT S OK AN NEVER FREEZE
    • Sue Kiene Sue Kiene on Dec 25, 2016
      The water is not freezing near the pump, It is freezing at an elbow in the discharge pipe where it goes thru the wall. Your advice does not make a lot of sense to me. I do not have the issue that is being talked about here but for me, where your little lamp would be and where the freeze up would be is about 10 foot apart.
  • Sue Kiene Sue Kiene on Dec 22, 2016
    Heat tape or insulate the pipe or try putting a bale of straw where the pipe comes thru the wall. Yes the discharge pipe should be sufficiently down in the ground.
  • Sue Sanders Sue Sanders on Dec 24, 2016
    Using heat tape and also the foam tube that is split down one side for easy installation around pipe..secure with plastic ties. I wrap all lines with this insulation and have not had any problems. I also put the insulated caps over each outside water faucet...after disconnecting hose.
  • Lisa Lisa on Dec 24, 2016
    Thank you SO much!!! I used the heat tape- will see how it goes and report back!!
  • Teenie Teenie on Oct 30, 2019

    by heat tape...do you mean the heat wire that you plug in...? or the plain old silver heat tape ????