Sump pump - help with drainage in winter?

Row house in the mid-Atlantic area. I'm selling it, so don't want to put a lot of money into this piece, esp with the way the prices are dropping in the area. (Apologies if this shows up twice; my email client hiccupped and said it didnt go thru).
There is a sump pump, with a drainage pipe thing that only sticks out of the house about 3-4". There is a PVC pipe drainage system attached to it that goes to the side of the yard and the water exits into the grass away from the house. That works fine 9-10 months a year. The problem is that in the winter, drainage accumulates in the PVC and freezes, causing the pump to strain and not be able to pump. I'm not at all mechanical so what I did then was get some of the "corrugated" plastic sump pump tubing and one of those rubber pipe adapter things (different diameter ends, with the little ratchety things on each side to attach to the pipe. When it was freezing, I'd detach the regular PVC drainage, and attach this gizmo. The pipe would reach across the paved area (this is all in the back yard) into the grass. This still froze, but it was very easy to exchange the tubing and sit the frozen one in the sun to thaw.
My problem now (finally got to it!) is that the house is currently vacant. While I can get there a few times a week, it's not enough to make sure the tubing doesn't freeze. What I have done now is buy a 10' piece of plastic gutter and propped it up under the outlet. That doesnt completely span the cement area and is easily dislodged. (It's currently very esthetically (not!) propped up with two pieces of that scalloped cement edging I had sitting around). I'm worried this could scare off a prospective buyer before anyone could even explain that it's not a problem when someone is living there and can monitor it. I had another plumber over for another reason who commented on how the water accumulated on the cement where it's settled over the years, so just leaving the short metal pipe wasn't good. His only suggestion was to run underground piping out to the alley, which would involve digging up the yard and cutting the cement sidewalk and the small retaining wall by the alley. He actually recommended against that. And truthfully, I could go for months without ever hearing or seeing the sump pump run, although depending on how much rain we've had, there are times it runs more frequently. It's just that I'm paranoid about it while the house is empty, having lived through a back up when the last one broke.
So, the bottom line is, does anyone happen to have any other suggestions on how to get the drainage away from the house, over maybe 15 ft of cement, and not risk having it blocked with ice when the temp drops? Maybe something with a larger diameter. (I'm thinking the narrow diameter tubing is more likely to freeze because it fill with water, and since the ground is fairly level it doesn't have gravity on its side). Maybe like the flexible downspout extensions, but if so how to attach? Or am I better off with the gutter thing, since it's open on the top and even if it freezes, at least the water escapes somewhere? And did I mention I'm not very handy
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The only suggestion I have is to see if it is somehow possible to arrange the drain so that it is downhill all the way so water does not stand in it. It still could freeze at the outlet but that may not create a problem.
Don Young
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If I understand your situation, you have to switch the drainage hose periodically to work around the problem with it freezing up? A prospective buyer might well think that was a problem even if you explained it to them.
Is it possible to have the sump pump raise the water to a point a foot or so above ground level while still inside the house, where it's warm enough that the water won't freeze. Then keep that portion of the run exposed to the cold all downhill?
If the problem is that it gets below freezing even inside the house while it's unoccupied, look into a pipe heater. It should only cost about $30.
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Lee B wrote:

There is a special PVC fitting (it may be proprietary?) called an "IceGuard", billed as a "Sump Pump Discharge Anti-Freeze Device". Heres a link to a description:
http://www.clarkebasementsystems.com/IceGuard.aspx
Basically, it lets the sump discharge onto the ground next to the house IF the discharge line freezes. Not ideal, by any means, but better than pump failure and water in the basement.
For myself, this September I took the principle of the "IceGuard" and modified it a bit.
I had a new 3" PVC line installed with a slightly 3" "modified wye" PVC fitting where the 1 1/2" PVC sump discharge line exits the house such that each arm of the wye is close to vertical. The first arm of the wye connects directly to the 1 1/2' PVC discharge and the other arm (slightly down-line from the first) is capped with a cleanout plug you can unscrew to remove or loosen.
In normal operation, the sump discharge would simply flow down the entire length (~60 ft) of the 3" discharge line to "daylight".
However, if the temp drops and the sump starts taking in water to be discharged, I will do 2 things: 1. Dump Calcium chloride pellets into the discharge line via the leg of the PVC "wye" that is normally capped so that any water discharged will pass through and carry that deicer down the length of the line and 2. Loosen or remove the cap (cleanout plug) so that IF, in spite of increases size of the line and the deicer, the discharge line freezes, the water will dump out onto the ground, similar to the way it would with the "IceGuard".
As I said, I just had this installed so, as yet, has not had a real world test. However, given the kind of weather we're having, I expect a "test" within the next few months, if not weeks. :(
I doubt you want to redo your entire discharge line but perhaps you could use the idea behind that "IceGuard" or even my modification of it, using some kind of "wye", to give the water a place to go, other than your basement, but ONLY IF the line freezes.
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Good info on the anti-freeze widget. Never saw one before. The key to Lee s problem is in what he didn't tell us. Which is how the area is graded and how high a drain can exit from the house. The solution is to use gravity to empty the pipe after it exists, possible combined with the anti-freeze widget.
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On Mon, 22 Dec 2008 06:07:47 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

The builder in my n'hood did the same thing but for free. They have a 2 inch plastic pipe coming out of the house about 5 inches, and that water discharges into the 4" corrugated flexible black tubing, that is goes down to the ground and is buried. All the water goes down the tube normally but if it ever froze or clogged the water would just come out at the connection. The corrugated tubing has stayed in place for decades because of the moderate stiffness of the tubing and its tendency is to stay straight or bend as little as possible, but I could pull it off if I tried.
This also provides an air break so that the little bit of water at the bottom of the sump won't be siphoned out,

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Erma1ina wrote:

Hmm, that Ice Guard looks promising, although I'm not clear from their page if they sell just that or they want to sell their whole service. I'll give a copy to my plumber to see if he's heard of it. My corrugated tubing contraption worked more or less... the adapter to the tubing that plugged into the pipe connector was basically held by friction. So worst case, if the tubing froze, the blast of water blew the connection apart. I just don't like the water then pooling across the cement and freezing, because that's the travel area from the parking pad). The antifreeze gizmo also sounds useful, except for the fact that I'm not there to add it. Wish I'd have thought of that back when I lived there though! Or if I left the upper leg of the Y unplugged, wold that work if the rest froze or would the drainage just come out of both legs if unfrozen? I'm definitely going to try to research the Ice Guard though. Maybe someone around here handles them. At least I'm obviously not the only one to encounter this problem.
I think what mostly works against me is that the ground only has a very slight down slope. So it's fine for warm weather; water probably pools in it but isn't a problem. It's just in freezing weather that it's a problem.
Oh well, at the rate houses are moving here, I'll probably still be showing it in the spring, at which point I can reconnect the "old" system.
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One additional question. Someone was telling me that "everyone" in the upstate NY area uses some sort of electrical heating wire for gutters and downspouts, to keep them from freezing, and suggested that might work for the sump pump drainage tubing. There is an outdoor electrical outlet close to the sump pump pipe. Thoughts? The one I saw on eBay looks more expensive and involved ("hard wire") than I want to go, but maybe someone here knows more about them.
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