Sump pump problems? I replaced a sump pump last week.

When I plugged in the new sump pump it would not pump the water out of the sump. The problem was that the pipe outside was a flexible pipe attached to the pipe coming out of the wall. The pipe was lying on the ground and it was frozen solid. I disconnected the pipe and removed the ice and the pump worked great.

The reason that the old sump pump had burned out was that it had been running constantly due to the frozen pipe. The client was lucky that the height of the water table in the ground was not above the level of her basement floor. Her sump was filling up to about 3/4 full.

If you have a sump pump, check that the water can still get out even though the drain away pipe freezes. The drain pipe should not be the same size as the pipe coming out of the house. You want a 4″ drain pipe held in place with a zip tie and have no low spots in the drain pipe where water can sit and block the pipe from draining. Since the 1 1/2″ pipe coming out of the house is going into a 4″ drain pipe, if the drain pipe freezes up the water will just overflow on to the ground but your sump pump will still continue to operate and pump the water out of your house.

If you have a sump pump, now is the time to check that your sump pump is working before the spring thaw starts. If your sump is dry, you should put some water in it to make sure it is working. Put enough water in it to run the pump through two cycles. Many sump pumps only operate in the spring when the ground thaws and the water table is high. Sometimes they don’t operate for a couple of years if there has been a gradual thaw. When you remove the cover from your sump pump, check for anything that may have fallen down the hole and for any accumulation of dirt or gravel that could plug up your pump intake.