Winterizing Your Sump Pump and Discharge Hose

by Rachel Laurendeau on November 22, 2013

Several of our recent blog posts have been related to winterizing and all of the chores that go along with the colder weather settling in. Today, we’re going to address what you need to do about your sump pump if you live in a colder climate.

sump pump OhioWhat’s a sump pump?
First of all, a sump pump is a pump used to remove accumulated water from a sump pit in your basement or crawl space. The water is generally pushed outside through a discharge pipe by the pump, with water being disposed of on your land through a discharge hose. Sump pumps are usually installed in homes that are at risk of basement flooding or dampness due to storms, melt-off and high water levels.

Green tip: in the spring and summer, you can use the water from your discharge hose to water trees, shrubs and grass on your property.

What to do about cold weather and sump discharge?
If you live in a cold climate where sump discharge would be likely to freeze, you need to take a few very simple steps to winterize your system. Since accumulated water can freeze in the discharge hose and cause your pump to overheat or burnout, you want to prevent that from happening.

*Some sump pumps have diverter valves that simply need to be turned so that the pump discharges into your home’s sewer for the winter, rather than being discharged outside. However, in many cities, there are by-laws or building/plumbing codes that do not allow this practice. If your pump does have a diverter, be sure to check with your local building officials as to local regulations before using this option.

In the case that your pump does not have a diverter or that you cannot legally divert the water to the sewer, here are two simple strategies to try:

Important: do not turn off or unplug your sump pump for the winter. It should always remain operational.

In the fall, once the weather drops below freezing, disconnect the flexible sump pump hose outside.
1. If you don’t already have one, attach a 90 degree elbow to the discharge outlet, and place a splash pad under the discharge outlet, or
2. Fasten a larger size flexible, perforated drain hose or pipe (4″ or 6″ diameter) of suitable length to the discharge outlet (e.g., a piece of weeping tile pipe)
Remember! In spring, reattach the hose you normally use or leave the winter one in place if it drains the water properly in spring and summer.” (Source:

Taking care of your sump pump and hose in the fall or early winter is a quick and easy home improvement that will save you hours or days of headaches. If you have any questions about your sump pump or system, talk to your city, utility board or sump pump repair contractor for more information.


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