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 didn’t 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 doesn’t
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…
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.
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
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:
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.
Good info on the anti-freeze widget. Never saw one before. The key
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.
On Mon, 22 Dec 2008 06:07:47 -0800 (PST), firstname.lastname@example.org 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,
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
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.
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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