A sump pump discharge line is an essential piece of equipment that cannot get overlooked. For the entire sump pump to work efficiently and protect your home from flooding and other water events, it needs to continue working in tip-top shape. There is always a possibility of something going wrong, such as clogging or freezing in the winter.
There are many different reasons and signs that point to a clog or freezing problem within the discharge line. The obvious is water coming up to your basement, but you want to stay on the lookout for less obvious signs so you have no surprises. There are ways to fix the problem as well, and as a homeowner, it’s best to educate yourself on everything you can do.
What do you do when your discharge lines give you trouble? What are the signs of trouble you need to stay on the lookout for? Innovative Basement Authority has the answers you need.
Signs of a Troubled Discharge Line
Discharge lines are prone to freezing in the winter or clogging, making them inefficient. Various signs will point to something going wrong with the sump pump discharge line, so you know when to start paying attention. Paying attention ahead of time will give you more flexibility when it comes to finding a solution. Let’s explore the possible problems you could encounter along the way.
Any home, no matter its location, is prone to having a clogging problem. The basin of the sump pump is one of the best indicators that something is going wrong. The basin points toward the problem when the pump is actuating, but the basin doesn’t empty. In most cases, this means that the pump is clogged with some sort of debris, which doesn’t allow the basin to drain properly even though the pump is trying.
The float switch is another great indicator that the sump pump or the discharge line leading away from it has gotten clogged up and requires attention. The float switch is a floating device within the sump pump that tells it when it needs to turn on and help pull water away toward the discharge line and away from home. Debris can get into the pump and cause the float mechanism to malfunction.
- Frozen Lines
A frozen discharge line will stop any water from draining away from home. Since freezing doesn’t happen quickly, you’ll start to notice when something is wrong. The sump pump basin will start to fill with water and take too long to drain even if the pump motor is running. As the line begins to freeze, the water will start to go down slower and slower anytime there is water accumulation.
Once the discharge line fully freezes over, the water will completely stop draining down the discharge line. In the event you have a large amount of water accumulating in and around the home, there is a chance it’ll start coming back up through your basement.
In some instances, you’ll see ice begin to form as debris before it has a chance to completely freeze over. This might be a good indicator that your discharge line needs looking after through a professional review.
- Running Pump
When the discharge line is clogged or frozen over, you will likely notice that the pump will continue to turn on or remain on completely, while nothing happens. With the water not having any route to escape, it will continue to build while the sump pump continues to attempt to drain the water that built up inside.
In some instances, the pump will continue to turn on at regular intervals or remain on all the time. The pump’s sound should be the first indicator that something is going wrong with the sump pump or the discharge line, and it will need a thorough look.
Sometimes when the line gets clogged or frozen and the water has nowhere to go, you’ll notice a distinct smell. Usually, the water draining down the discharge line is not the cleanest and may have an odor all by itself. The smell may also depend on the reason behind the clogging in the first place.
If the line is clogged due to the iron ochre build-up, it will have a foul smell without the water’s added smell. You’re likely to smell the problem when you spend any amount of time near the sump pump or discharge lines such as your basement.
The Reason for Clogging and Freezing
A clogged or frozen discharge line is an enormous problem that can quickly cause massive amounts of damage costing thousands of dollars. Sump pumps are there to protect your home when there’s water accumulation, and that is no doubt what everyone expects it to do the moment it’s installed. When it stops working the way it should, the surprise water build-up will not be pleasant. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons these problems happen.
- Weather Conditions
The primary reason for freezing is the weather itself. Whether the line is built above the ground or below, it becomes susceptible to freezing when the weather conditions are just right. Northern regions of the country are more likely to have this problem form when the seasons change to winter.
Weather conditions such as falling leaves in the fall will also perpetuate the clogging problem. A discharge line is, in actuality, a large hole in the ground that can become clogged with various weather-related debris, even ice. On the other hand, clogging can happen at any time and does not require any specific weather to perpetuate the problem.
A proper discharge line doesn’t stop at the foundation wall since that is way too short. If it stops there, the discharge water will likely drain back into the basement, especially when the weather turns cold. The shorter the line, the more likely it is to freeze. You should always check if the line was installed at least up to 10 feet away from the foundation wall.
Sometimes, the discharge line is connected to a small extension or hose running across the ground. These extensions are around two inches in size; they are cheap, flexible, and around 20-30 feet. Due to the hose’s size, even if it is the same size as the discharge line, it becomes more prone to freezing. The quicker it freezes, the more ice starts to build within the discharge line itself, causing ice debris and freezing to stop water from moving through it.
- Iron Ochre
Iron ochre is actually a rust-colored gelatinous ooze caused by bacteria. This microscopic organism survives by oxidizing ferrous iron and is found all over the world. Iron ochre doesn’t have any side effects when it comes to the health of the family, though it is known for its rather distinctive and strong smell. Anything it touches will get stained with a rust-like color, and if it gets into the drinking water, it will have a foul taste.
Of course, the biggest problem with iron ochre is that, though it’s not harmful, it’s a gelatinous ooze that only continues to build. The more of it there is within the pipe, the more clogged it’ll be, causing water to spew back out the other way.
Clogging and Freezing Prevention
Preventing a problem from forming is half the solution to a potentially large headache down the road. Innovative Basement Authority has the perfect solution to clogged and frozen discharge lines in Minnesota, North Dakota, and eastern Montana. The FreezeGuard™ system is the one solution every homeowner needs so they no longer have to worry about potential discharge line problems.
Let’s learn how this FreezeGuard™ system helps protect your home once it’s installed.
- Keeps Water Out
Areas such as Minnesota, North Dakota, and eastern Montana are especially prone to freezing discharge line issues. The best solution is the FreezeGuard™, which is an automatic option that doesn’t require any work by the homeowner. When it works correctly, no amount of water will back up through the basement.
The FreezeGuard™ provides another escape route for water to go, but only in the event that the line ends up clogged or frozen to any degree. This fitting is installed on the exterior discharge line as another way for the water to go through slotted openings placed the same distance from one another. These slotted openings are the last resort for the discharge line to remove the water before it gets to the top of the opening and spills into your home.
- Stop Ice and Snow
The FreezeGuard™ is offered with the SafeDri™ sump pump systems provided by Innovative Basement Authority, especially to those homes in more affected areas. When these sump pump systems work in conjunction with the FreezeGuard™ option, you do not have to worry about your pipes getting clogged with ice or frozen over.
A part of the freezing problem is that the slower the water moves through the pipes, such as when they begin to freeze, the more they’ll continue to overgrow with ice. By having the FreezeGuard™ installed on the exterior discharge line, you’ll allow the water to continue to flow no matter how cold or clogged it gets. This water movement will allow the water to continue to move and not stop, which might give it time to freeze over.
Clogged and Frozen Discharge Line
As a homeowner, you want to learn all there is to know about owning a home of your own. Of course, there is quite a bit of maintenance that goes into homeownership, and the same can be said of sump pumps and discharge lines.
- Those in Cold Areas
Anyone who lives in a cold area such as Minnesota, North Dakota, and eastern Montana, whether their discharge line is installed above or below ground level. The winters in these areas can become so brutal that the water is likely to freeze within the discharge line itself. Some lines are too short for such weather, causing the water to stop moving through it completely and freeze.
A part of this problem could be the result of the installation process used when the line was first put in, such as using a hose connection that is small and cheap. However, this will only become a problem during the wintertime when the temperature outside drops drastically low.
- Sump Pump Homeowners
Homeowners with a sump pump also have a discharge line, which allows the pump to drain the water using the line toward the outside of the house. Though located at the bottom of the house, most of these discharge lines are actually open holes in the wall or floor which have a line leading to them from the sump pump.
The discharge line problem in these cases is that they are essentially open holes. Whether you continuously sit around the discharge line in your basement, there are possibilities of things getting stuck inside, causing the line to clog.
- Older Homes
Older homes are much more susceptible to clogging and freezing. Sump pumps in older homes are likely to be outdated since they only have a certain lifespan. Homes built many years ago were likely not prepared for a proper sump pump outfitting to get installed, which means the lines might be too short.
If you’re purchasing an older home or live in one, the best thing to do is get an inspection before you get any clogging or freezing issues. Check the discharge line at the bottom level of the house to see if you can determine how old it is and whether you’re going to run into a problem the moment the weather gets cold or if something had time to accumulate with age.
As you notice a problem start to form, you may wonder whether you’re able to fix it on your own. After all, calling the professionals means spending funds, something that sounds rather daunting. The question is whether this is something you can accomplish on your own.
- Without Professionals
No doubt, the internet is the home to many DIY approaches to fixing a clogged or frozen discharge line. Some of them might or might not work, but it’s hard to tell what the end result would be. Of course, as a homeowner, you will have the luxury of trying as many options as possible to see what ends up helping, but you are stuck with the majority of the financial burden.
The longer you attempt to fix the problem on your own, the longer the problem will persist and likely get worse before it gets better. A clogged or frozen discharge line means water will continue to pour into your home, causing untold amounts of damage. Aside from having to spend money on fixing the line in various ways, you’ll also be responsible for fixing the damage to your home before water continues to drain the way it should.
- With Professionals
The biggest upside to hiring professionals, no matter the cost involved, is the experience that comes along with the price. Professionals will know exactly what to do in order to stop the clog or fix any frozen lines. There will be no guessing game, and the problem will be fixed as soon as possible, minimizing potential damage to your home.
Innovative Basement Authority will show up with the right sump pump parts such as the FreezeGuard™ to help fix and prevent such problems from happening again in the future. Our professionals are able to give you the best advice on the best steps, whether it’s replacing the line, fixing an improperly installed line, or changing out the sump pump to one of the SafeDri™ systems.
Fixing Clogged or Frozen Discharge Lines with Innovative Basement Authority
Clogged or frozen discharge lines have the ability to do endless amounts of damage, which will leave you as the homeowner with the responsibility of fixing the problem. Most homes, especially in certain areas, are more prone to having such an issue as the seasons change from year to year. Older homes are likely to have build-up they’ve accumulated through all these years and will need a professional to take a look.
Innovative Basement Authority, serving homeowners in Minnesota, North Dakota, and eastern Montana, offers a FreezeGuard™ option as an addition to the discharge line, which protects your home from clogs and frozen lines. It’s as simple as contacting us for a free inspection and repair quote to find out if your discharge line could benefit from the FreezeGuard™.