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Frozen Sump Pump Discharge Line Wreaks Winter Havoc for Many

The effects of near  record-breaking cold air had our plumbing phone lines ringing off the hook this past winter. As with the brutally cold winter before, frozen water lines and burst water pipes were occurring in abundance. But many customers were also calling because their sump pump systems were performing strangely and, in some cases not at all during some of the coldest days of the winter.

Many of these homeowners reported that that a humming noise or the vibration on the pump’s discharge line gave the impression that the systems were working, but when they inspected the pit where the pump resided to see if water was being evacuated, they would see the captured water being being stirred or agitated, but not draining or even worse; actually rising or cresting over the pit’s rim.

frozen sump discharge(1)frozen sump discharge (2)

Unbeknownst to them, the brutal cold had successfully frozen their sump pump discharge line, creating a solid ice barrier in the pipe that would prevent the contents of the pit from being expelled away from the home. The sump pump would then run continuously, trying to expel the water until it ultimately would burn itself out.

Typical areas of the sump pump’s discharge line that are prone to freeze include the area where the line exits the house as well as sections buried at or above the frost line. Ice or snow accumulation around the discharge pipe should be actively monitored and discouraged by the homeowner throughout  the course of the winter as its presence can quickly promote freezing of any trapped water in the line. It is also important to inspect the horizontal section of the pipeline at the top of the riser for back pitch which would allow water to be trapped rather than continue to run via gravity outside of the house and away from the home.

Should you believe your sump pump discharge line to be frozen, your remedies to restore flow will vary based on the design of your system and the extremity of the freezing problem. A small slug of ice blocking the line may possibly be relieved by applying a controlled heat source like a hair dryer to the section of pipe you suspect to be frozen. More significant freezing may require the services of a professional who may have more tools and experience to solve this kind of problem, or if necessary, the ability to redirect the contents of the sump water discharge until the primary mode of your sump water transport is restored.

Titan Plumbing proudly serves the communities of Elgin, St Charles, Geneva, Batavia, and Aurora, Illinois.