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#1
Old 11-24-2015, 09:32 PM
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Need ideas to keep my sump pump drain outlet from freezing.....

There are many smart people here and I respect the wealth of experience from all over, so hopefully some ideas come from this thread. After having my basement waterproofed with a new line out to the street to drain the water we realized that we had a problem in the winter. The water drains to the gutter at the side of the street and then down to the storm drain. It doesn't flow really well down the gutter to the storm drain but I can't do much about that. It does eventually get there but pools in areas.

So, when it gets really cold the water in the gutter freezes and eventually backs up and threatens the opening at the street where our sump pump drains to. If it freezes there our pump won't be able to continue pumping and our basement could start to flood.

Any ideas on how to heat the gutter or keep the water flowing so that it doesn't freeze, or just heat the end where it drains enough to keep that small area from freezing? I currently go out there and break up ice to keep it free but it gets old. It may be the only real answer.

Here are ideas that I've considered:

1. Heat the water inside my house with something like a pond heater. I really don't see how that would help once exposed to the cold outside at the gutter since it doesn't flow quickly to the storm drain.

2. Elevate the sump pump drain opening at the street. While I can't move the opening itself as it's been ran under a sidewalk and concrete was poured around it at the curb so that it is flush, I did try extending the end of it with some tubing. However, any elevation prevents the water from flowing out. It doesn't come out of the sump pump and down the lengthy pipe with enough momentum to carry it up even a slight angle.

3. It has been suggested that I use heat tape out there. That would require installation of an electrical outlet outside on that end of the house. Then we'd have to run the wire and pipe out to the curb and street gutter. It was recommended that we actually cut into the gutter and stuff the heat tape in there to heat the entire gutter to keep it from freezing. That seems pricey and I'm not sure how the city would react to me making any changes to their concrete gutter.

Maybe some of you smarter than me or more inventive, or some in colder climates might have a suggestion. I hope that I've explained this well enough. Maybe there's an angle that I haven't looked at this from entirely. The good thing is that when it is super cold chances are there isn't that much water to run because it's all frozen, but it happens and if nothing else I have to keep it clear in case rain follows closely or precedes the cold.
#2
Old 11-24-2015, 09:57 PM
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Before I suggest anything, could you describe the outflow pipes? I mean, does the pipe come out of the pump, go up an inside wall in your basement, through the wall to the outside (hopefully a few feet above ground level?), then turn downward and head into the ground and then out to the street? If not this, what is different?
#3
Old 11-24-2015, 10:28 PM
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You've pretty much got it. The pipe comes up out of the pump, up the wall, out through the wall to a few feet underground (not exposed at all to the elements), and then it makes a turn and runs across the back of the house and through the side yard, under the sidewalk, and then has been cut into the curb so that the outlet is flush with the curb at the bottom of the street gutter. Nothing in the outflow pipe is exposed outside except for the actual hole where the water comes out. That's great for preventing freezing in the pipe. It is just an issue when the water sits in the gutter and freezes and more water comes out and freezes and eventually backs up to the literal hole in the curb where the water comes out.
#4
Old 11-24-2015, 10:47 PM
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Perhaps you could make a tee off, whilst the pipe is still in your yard, that is arranged such that water will only flow through this tee when the normal gutter outlet is blocked. think of it as a 'pressure relief line' but it is passive, not active.

I can't quite picture the scenario you've described in my head as i live in a tropical area and such things as freezing water (other than in my drink) are quite alien.

But i do a similar thing when I install soakwells for draining water from rain - provide an outlet in the pipe system that deposits water in a favorable location elsewhere when the main drain location is blocked / over capacity. in normal flow events this outlet won't experience any flow.

Last edited by Richox; 11-24-2015 at 10:48 PM. Reason: small addition for clarity
#5
Old 11-24-2015, 11:04 PM
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@Richox - That seems like a doable idea. There might be some drawback that I don't see, but I'll think about how I could work that in.

The comment about your life in a tropical area was unnecessary and envy inducing. Lol, I'm sure that living in a tropical area has its own drawbacks, but by February I hate winter and think about moving every year, and our winter isn't even really that bad compared with many areas.
#6
Old 11-24-2015, 11:07 PM
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Richox's idea is better than what I was thinking, but does sound like a lot of work if it's too far underground. Maybe install some kind of plug in the line in your basement just before the pipe goes through the wall? You could funnel or hose boiling water down the line and it might clear out ice blockage? Without you having to go outside.

Regardless, it sounds like Public Services needs to be called to improve the drainage system, i.e., gutter to the storm drain.

Last edited by burpo the wonder mutt; 11-24-2015 at 11:07 PM.
#7
Old 11-24-2015, 11:19 PM
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@burpo - The pipe isn't too far underground in places. Like out by the gutter itself there simply isn't much depth to the land there. I don't think it would be too hard to get to. The concern would be how to create a secondary outlet so that the water could escape AND keep moving without freezing at that outlet as well, but it does give me more options to think about.

We actually just had our street in front of the house (we live on a corner) redone to improve drainage, along with one side of the whole neighborhood. They stopped right at the street on the side of us where I have the issues, lol. Of course. Like I said, the water does flow, but it does pool and sit unless there's a steady stream of water for some time to keep pushing it along. They do probably need to fix it, but since they just did one half of the neighborhood and winter is coming, I'm not sure that the rest will be due for a while. It may be worth a try, but honestly I'm one of the few houses with basements here and I'm probably the only person with a reason to raise the issue around us.

Thanks to you both for the suggestions.
#8
Old 11-25-2015, 12:14 AM
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Can you give an idea where you live, or how deep the frost line is? Any solution to the problem will very likely be different depending on how deep the ground freezes.

I wonder if you could just tee off in the yard to a french drain, kind of like a miniature septic field. This might work if the amount of water isn't too great.

Last edited by cornflakes; 11-25-2015 at 12:18 AM. Reason: Second paragraph
#9
Old 11-25-2015, 02:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justanothermike View Post
You've pretty much got it. The pipe comes up out of the pump, up the wall, out through the wall to a few feet underground (not exposed at all to the elements), and then it makes a turn and runs across the back of the house and through the side yard, under the sidewalk, and then has been cut into the curb so that the outlet is flush with the curb at the bottom of the street gutter.
i don't understand this.
Why doesn't the sump pump just drain into the main drain pipe inside your house that connects to the street sewer line?
#10
Old 11-25-2015, 08:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornflakes View Post
Can you give an idea where you live, or how deep the frost line is? Any solution to the problem will very likely be different depending on how deep the ground freezes.

I wonder if you could just tee off in the yard to a french drain, kind of like a miniature septic field. This might work if the amount of water isn't too great.
I live on the Indiana and Kentucky border (USA). I believe the frost line is maybe 3 feet? Ultimately the freezing issue is only happening where the water is exposed to daylight because the gutter at the street backs up though.

I've thought about the mini french drain too, but we do get a tremendous amount of water. The sump pump runs long after the rain is done. You don't have to dig far here to hit water from what I've been told. At times my pump may run every 20 seconds or more during heavy rains. In the winter we don't get so much rain, but I remember last year we had some freezing temperatures and everything outside was frozen solid right up to the opening of my drain at daylight and then we got a couple inches of rain the next day. I had to go out and make sure that I could get the ice broken up enough to let it pump out.
#11
Old 11-25-2015, 08:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
i don't understand this.
Why doesn't the sump pump just drain into the main drain pipe inside your house that connects to the street sewer line?
Here is my understanding, as I did ask about this very thing. The city doesn't want storm water going into the sewers and backing them up. We have storm sewers in the streets for storm water runoff. It is against code to tap into the sanitary sewer. Plus, doing so does give one the unfortunate possibility of having raw sewage back up into their basement if something were to go wrong.

We originally had a sump pump in a small pit down there that went somewhere, nobody really knows or could tell where it drained to. They thought maybe a dry pit somewhere buried in the yard. Regardless, during heavy rains one year it apparently got full or plugged up in the line and the back pressure made the pump unable to pump and we started flooding. The solution was costly, as we had issues in one corner of the basement with flooding anyway. New pump, new pit, new crock, new drain lines, and I also had a water powered backup pump installed as well. Oh, and we had the foundation broken up around the perimeter inside and perforated pipe installed to relieve pressure on our walls. It was all good until that first winter when we realized that the water was freezing and backing up out at the street, something we hadn't anticipated.

It isn't the end of the world if I do have to go out and break it up, but it gets old after a few days of it. It can be hard to stay on top of. If I could find a way to eliminate that need it would be nice.
#12
Old 11-25-2015, 11:43 AM
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See item 5 on linked page:

http://sterlinghomeinspections.com/new-page-1/

pic link http://images.basementsystems.com/21...guard-main.jpg

Other options are use of RV antifreeze in sump and run into lines regulary. RV antifreeze is eco safe.
.

Last edited by Philster; 11-25-2015 at 11:46 AM.
#13
Old 11-25-2015, 12:39 PM
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I love that thing from basement systems, but I don't have exposed pipe as mine comes out underneath the ground right out the basement wall. I also emailed someone about those and it seems like it was a proprietary thing that only their installers did. I may be wrong on that last part. It probably wouldn't be difficult to rig something similar though.

I had no idea about the RV antifreeze. That's an interesting idea depending on how much one would need to use.
#14
Old 11-25-2015, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justanothermike View Post
I live on the Indiana and Kentucky border (USA).
That would in the Ohio River, no?

I live just south of you and we have a similar problem though not as severe as you. As I understand, your sump pump exit can be below the water level of a backed up street drain which then freezes and plugs your line. Why not install an alternate pump exit that just dumps into your yard? it could even be an outdoor faucet and a length of garden hose that you route to a well drained spot. I'm not a plumber but I think this would definitely have to be a home project.

The water coming from the ground into your basement will be at 40-50 and has enough heat content to keep the line open if it drains downhill after reaching a high point coming out of your house. You'll know when freezing weather is coming and you could switch to the "faucet outlet" from your pump as needed.

Last edited by Nefario; 11-25-2015 at 01:35 PM.
#15
Old 11-25-2015, 01:37 PM
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https://flickr.com/photos/103580...posted-public/

You have to do some grunt work. This is my pic and was a setup I had. When not frozen, all flows fine. Outlet dumps into pipe below. If pipe out to street/gutter is frozen, water just ejects into the graded, frozen ground and will run away from house.
#16
Old 11-25-2015, 04:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philster View Post
https://flickr.com/photos/103580...posted-public/

You have to do some grunt work. This is my pic and was a setup I had. When not frozen, all flows fine. Outlet dumps into pipe below. If pipe out to street/gutter is frozen, water just ejects into the graded, frozen ground and will run away from house.
Your link is marked as adult content and not accessible to people who don't have flikr accounts.

That's either inadvertent or you have more, aah, interesting ... home plumbing than most.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 11-25-2015 at 04:22 PM.
#17
Old 11-25-2015, 05:33 PM
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Lol. Fixed the setting on the pic. Should be viewable by all.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/613/23...9a84ef98_z.jpg


.

Last edited by Philster; 11-25-2015 at 05:35 PM.
#18
Old 11-25-2015, 06:44 PM
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Sweet diagram. Gets the point across perfectly.

And yes, the flikr security settings let anonymous users see it now.
#19
Old 11-25-2015, 10:07 PM
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I'm having a hard time picturing this, so maybe my question is dumb, but what about a drain pipe heater? Basically just an electric line placed in the outlet that heats it above freezing.
#20
Old 11-26-2015, 12:43 AM
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I like Philster's idea. It gets the water out of the house even if the ground freezes solid, and it will work in a power outage.
#21
Old 11-26-2015, 12:52 AM
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But in post 13 Mike says his pipe doesn't exit above the ground, like Philster's does.
#22
Old 11-26-2015, 01:21 AM
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Sorry, I missed that. A tee to the surface may be the best idea yet (kind of the same idea, in a block diagram-ish sort of way.)
#23
Old 11-26-2015, 08:32 AM
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I was wrong about something. I just went out and looked to make sure and there actually is a little bit of exposed pipe where it comes out of the house to drain. I've been through different iterations of this and I thought that the last contractor made it all underground. It looks like that isn't quite the case. There is a pipe that comes out of the wall with an elbow that runs down with pipe under the ground. So, there is maybe 6-10 inches (didn't measure it) exposed right where it exits the house. That might give me some room to do something like the basement systems design above if I could find a piece like that or create something similar enough.

Otherwise it looks like a T somewhere out there is the best bet.

Thanks for all of the suggestions! I'll be glad at some point to figure out what prevents me from having to watch the stupid gutter all of the time when it's bitterly cold. I'm tired of being the only person out there as cars drive by, wondering why in the world I'm busting up ice and then hurling the big chunks up in the yard, which isn't a pleasing aesthetic. Looks pretty bad out there in the middle of it all, and it really is a bummer when there's snow on top as well.
#24
Old 11-26-2015, 08:50 AM
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In general it's poor workmanship to have drain plumbing above ground in freeze country. So I'm disappointed your workmen did that.

How certain are you that the actual problem is down at the gutter versus you getting a frozen plug there where the pipe exits the house?

ISTM that Philster's solution (posts 15 & 17) would be OK is areas that don't hard freeze and have little actual sump drainage. If his system was installed where he did pump a lot of water out into serious cold, I'd expect the system to form an ice plug at that air gap pretty quickly.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 11-26-2015 at 08:51 AM.
#25
Old 11-26-2015, 09:26 AM
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It has never actually plugged and caused a problem before because I've been on top of it, though the ice did encroach upon the outlet a couple times last year and got to it a time or two. In both instances we didn't have water to pump out so it was okay. But the water has always flowed through the pipe freely, it is just that I'm always out there making sure it can do so.

This is our third drainage iteration. The first was drilling a straight shot under our bedroom and out in the yard, which was a mess and noisy all night. Step to was out the basement but they used about 6 ninety degree angles which was ridiculous as it slowed the flow. So our current situation is the best yet. It was a general plumbing company that did the first two and our waterproofing company did their best to fix it by taking out most of the ninety degree turns.
#26
Old 11-26-2015, 10:26 AM
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Same sump setup here (live in Wisconsin)

Pump runs fairly often, so we ended up with a large ice flow in the street in front of the house and across the driveway entrance.
Then when the plows come out, the curb outlet is plugged solid until spring.

Fortunately, there is a short piece of flexible tubing that connects the house outflow pipe to the part buried under the yard (where Philster's air gap is). So I just disconnect that and slip a length of drainage tube over the pipe and let it go in to the yard.
#27
Old 11-26-2015, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
In general it's poor workmanship to have drain plumbing above ground in freeze country. So I'm disappointed your workmen did that.

How certain are you that the actual problem is down at the gutter versus you getting a frozen plug there where the pipe exits the house?

ISTM that Philster's solution (posts 15 & 17) would be OK is areas that don't hard freeze and have little actual sump drainage. If his system was installed where he did pump a lot of water out into serious cold, I'd expect the system to form an ice plug at that air gap pretty quickly.
I see your concern, but these are legit ways to address the ice/freezing dilemma. There is no water in the outlet pipe to freeze. It is always clear. It should be good to even 40 below. The buried pipe drain will freeze with the ground. Frozen conditions? The water coming out of the house will hit the ground/grading and run away and freeze as it does.

In snow pack, the water will still get out fine.

Many sumps work year round and into freezing conditions by dumping out of the house.. just into the grading. It works. The pipe underground ensures the expelled water moves away from the house when ground isn't frozen. That is in play unless the ground is frozen. With frozen ground, surface water can be dumped near the house... because it won't seep into the ground and work its way into the foundation again.

Just leave a good gap between the outlet and ground / underground pipe.

.

Last edited by Philster; 11-26-2015 at 10:31 AM.
#28
Old 11-26-2015, 11:04 PM
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I'm liking these ideas. Thanks to all, and Happy Thanksgiving to those of you that celebrate it.
#29
Old 11-27-2015, 10:31 AM
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This doesn't help you but just for info; our sump pump has a Town-approved connection below the frost line to the municipal storm drain system.

This might help; I have redundant sump pumps; one goes to the town as above. The other has its own exit pipe going into my yard and away from the house. The secondary pump is in the same (oversized) crock as the first, but mounted on a brick so it is maybe 1 to 2 inches higher than the 'primary' pump.

That way, the secondary pump only kicks in if the town's storm drain gets backed up (doesn't happen so much anymore but it used to) or the primary pump outright fails - that did happen once.

I've never installed a battery backup system. All the backup systems I've seen have puny pumps; like 1/8th HP. My combined pumps get over 1HP. Also we have very reliable power here, and I still have a generator.

All things told we have a belt and suspenders and parachute system. But with a finished basement with rugs I still worry.
#30
Old 11-27-2015, 10:57 AM
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I've been through this. The solution is a below ground level outlet, but in a pinch you can pour salt into your sump hole daily. Eventually the salt will coat the sump hose and you'll need less. Eventually it will also ruin your sump pump, but with models that use a lot of plastic it won't be that bad. But it's no long term solution.
#31
Old 11-27-2015, 12:29 PM
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Since the OP is looking for advice, let's move this to IMHO.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator
#32
Old 11-27-2015, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
I've been through this. The solution is a below ground level outlet, but in a pinch you can pour salt into your sump hole daily. Eventually the salt will coat the sump hose and you'll need less. Eventually it will also ruin your sump pump, but with models that use a lot of plastic it won't be that bad. But it's no long term solution.
RV Antifreeze instead of salt.
#33
Old 11-27-2015, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Philster View Post
RV Antifreeze instead of salt.
I didn't want that getting pumped outside where animals might lick it up and die. It's probably better for the sump pump though. If you have some place harmless for the stuff to go I'd say that's a good idea.
#34
Old 11-27-2015, 08:14 PM
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From what I gather the RV antifreeze is pink in color. I'm also unsure how safe it would be to let it run into the storm drain even if it isn't necessarily toxic. A neighbor across the street from the gutter in question is older and watches what goes on it the neighborhood. Her family works for the sewer/street departments. I can't have a bunch of pink liquid out there drawing attention even if it is safe. Maybe I wouldn't take enough to color the water though, I don't know what the ratio would be.

If it truly wouldn't hurt anything and wouldn't draw attention the RV antifreeze could be the best option. Ultimately preventing freezing is better than giving an outlet for backflow after freezing occurs.
#35
Old 11-27-2015, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
I didn't want that getting pumped outside where animals might lick it up and die. It's probably better for the sump pump though. If you have some place harmless for the stuff to go I'd say that's a good idea.
It's harmless... and designed for flushing out boats and RV's where the fluid will encounter the ecosystem.

I would just go with what I drew, as that is freeze proof and pretty standard.

.
#36
Old 11-27-2015, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philster View Post

I would just go with what I drew, as that is freeze proof and pretty standard.

.
I like that idea, despite the adult nature of your original picture, lol.

What did you use to create the larger "funnel" effect at the top of the drain line to catch the water? I think that my pipes are all almost flush with the house so I'm not sure how big of a funnel I can put up there, especially if circular, but I could probably rig something that is more flat on one site and allows for expanded coverage on the other side. I've got an elbow coming out the back of the house from the pump leading to about 4 inches of exposed pipe that then goes under the ground.
#37
Old 11-28-2015, 07:17 AM
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You're probably going to need to do more than just cut out a couple inch section. You may need to extend the pipe horizontally a few inches so the vertical section is away from the wall. That will also help keep any drainage water from freezing to the outside of the wall.

Here are funnel devices in 3 sizes. I've assumed the drain line is a standard 4" soil line. Similar devices are available for smaller pipe sizes though. Note the price goes up a bunch for the largest size.

http://homedepot.com/p/NIBCO-3-i...HD34/100347880
http://homedepot.com/p/NDS-4-in-...6P07/100202447
http://homedepot.com/p/Charlotte...1925/203936691
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