Should Sump Pump Be Turned Off in Winter?


Sump pump failure during winter often occurs due to its discharge hose (commonly referred to as a Flex Hose) freezing or becoming clogged, making regular testing vitally crucial throughout this season. To protect your investment and ensure optimal operation of your sump pump.

Redirecting water flow, installing an alarm system, and maintaining a backup battery may help minimize issues.

For extra peace of mind and to keep your sump pump in top shape during the winter, consider these additional measures and learn more here about pump services.

Less water in the ground

Sump pumps should only kick on when water levels in a pit reach a specific threshold, and any time that happens more frequently and consistently in winter than expected could indicate several potential issues.

One of the most frequent issues afflicting pumps is frozen and clogged discharge hoses (flex hoses). This results in water that should have been moving away from your foundation being trapped within this flex hose instead, leading to significant pump damage and flooding or dampness issues in your basement.

The best way to combat this problem is by burying or otherwise insulating a hose and investing in heat trace cable or heating tape to keep thawed hoses warm and thaw out quicker.

Ideally, it would also be wise to keep an extra discharge hose handy for this purpose. Should the first one freeze, you can swap it out to use your extra one while waiting for the first to thaw out.

This should apply to any exposed pipework outside your home, not just your sump pump hose – also, consider placing your pump on an inclined plane so water naturally flows away from it to reduce the chances of freezing pipes or clogged pumps.

Frozen pipes

While your sump pump won’t extract as much water in winter months, melted snow and ice may still present an additional source of basement flooding that requires it to operate effectively.

Summer months can be hazardous to your discharge line’s integrity as temperatures plummet below zero, freezing over and becoming blocked with ice. A frozen discharge line prevents your sump pump from draining away accumulated water – leading it to burn out as it attempts to force its way past an obstruction.

If you own a sump pump, keeping an extra discharge hose around in case one freeze will give you enough flexibility when temperatures thaw out again to easily replace frozen ones with an alternative one when temperatures start thawing back out again.

If you don’t have a spare hose available, an easy way to prevent your sump pump discharge pipe from freezing is insulating it properly – this means covering any exposed pipes with tarpaulins or burying it as far as possible from your house.

Low temperatures

Many sump pumps in colder climates become inoperable for periods due to their discharge pipe (Flex Hose) freezing over and thus becoming unusable.

When this occurs, water that would usually leave your basement through your sump pump remains within it, and floods or dampness develops within your foundations instead of leaving through its discharge port as expected.

Make it a point to clear away snow and ice accumulated around your pump during winter so that its discharge hose doesn’t become overloaded. In addition, test your sump pump regularly during the cold months to ensure it functions optimally.

If you need assistance testing your sump pump this winter, contact a licensed plumbing contractor who will be more than willing to assist in this and any other problems that may arise during these cold months. A plumber can ensure your sump pump is operating at full capacity while testing battery backup and alarm and checking the discharge hose for any clogs or freezing.

Battery backup

Due to winter’s freezing ground and decreased water availability, your sump pump may extract less liquid for extraction. But that does not mean it should be turned off or unplugged, as doing so could damage its components and possibly render them nonfunctional.

Battery backup for your sump pump is always recommended to ensure its continual performance in case power goes out and to protect your basement. Insulating discharge lines is also highly recommended to prevent them from freezing and becoming blocked; additionally, check them often throughout winter to add additional insulation as necessary.

Your pit should also feature a large discharge hose to easily and quickly drain water away without it freezing since moving water is much harder to freeze. Place a check valve in the discharge pipe to stop water from reentering the basin after turning it off.

Since your pump’s float switch can become damaged over time, it is crucial that it be regularly checked. Doing so will let you detect any potential issues before they cause problems; otherwise, water may continuously run into your sump pump and cause irreparable damage.

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