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The days are getting shorter and colder.  It’s time to get the home ready for winter;  Wrap the windows, get the lawn furniture inside and make sure your sump pump line doesn’t freeze!  Are you prepared?

Do Sump Pumps Run in Winter?

Throughout my years in the water control industry, this must be the most often asked question of sump pumps when winter is approaching.  Yes, sump pumps run in the winter and that means if precautions aren’t taken you could end up with a frozen sump pump line!

Why would I get water when the ground’s frozen?  Good question, there can different reasons why this could happen.  First of all, it’s okay that your sump is running occasionally in cold temperatures.  During winter the snow melt will accumulate over time in the sump pit and if there is a quick warm up the pit will fill up quickly and start the pump.  If you notice that the sump pump is continuously running more than likely you haven’t removed your flex hose.  The flex hose is located on the outside of the house.  It attaches to the sump pump discharge and directs the water away from your home.  If that is the case, remove the flex hose immediately.  If water is frozen in there the sump pump will run continuously without discharging and eventually will burn up your sump pump.

How To Avoid a Frozen Sump Pump

Before the winter hits with all its might, it’s a good idea to check all your home’s pipes to make sure they are insulated well enough to make it through the freezing temperatures.  While you’re doing this don’t forget about your sump pump!

If your sump pump is located inside your basement, chances are any water entering the sump pump will not freeze.  Most basements are warm enough, even in freezing temperatures, that the sump pump will remain above freezing.  If your sump pump is installed outside, unless it’s installed below the frost line, it stands a good chance of freezing.

Some sump pump discharge lines are buried underground.  If the discharge line is below the frost line you may be okay.  To better your chances, make sure the buried line is at a slant so that any water running through will keep moving.  Water freezes with low temperatures and when it’s standing still.  Moving water will not freeze.

What If My Sump Pump is Frozen?

First and foremost, do NOT run antifreeze through your sump pump!  The first step to take is to turn off your sump pump, just for now.  Next, go outside and take a look at your line.  Check if there are any obstructions that may be blocking it and remove them.  If you discover the line is frozen, thaw the line with a space heater or a hair dryer.  Once the line is thawed remove it until spring unless you have a discharge accessory which prevents frozen lines from backing up into your basement.  If you choose to keep the discharge line in place I suggest an accessory which will not allow water to back up in your basement.  The picture to the right shows how it looks on your home. Go here for more information. 

Do not heat the discharge line with any type of flame.  This could cause an entirely new set of problems!

Next, go to the sump pump and empty out any remaining water then remove the drain line from the pump. You may need a small wrench or screwdriver to do this.

Your next step is to boil water, pour the water into the sump pumps drain line and pour the water through the line until it flows freely.  Personally, I don’t like extra work that can be avoided so my choice is pictured above.  The brand name is Freeze Relief and you can find it here:  Freeze Relief.

Final Thoughts

I have been in the waterproofing and foundation repair business for over 17 years and my suggestions for a best option are one of two fixes:

  • When the temperature dips below freezing, remove your sump pump discharge line.
  • Install a Freeze Relief, or something similar.  Then you never have to be concerned about water backing up into your basement.

Below I have added sump pump accessories which may make your life easier.  I have used these in many homes without issues.

Thank you for reading this.  If you have other ideas, or if you have questions, please leave me a response below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Remember, I am a professional and this is based upon my professional opinion!