How to Avoid a Frozen Sump Pump in Winter


You need to take good care of your sump pump, especially during the winter when the temperature drops and can cause your pump to get frozen. A frozen sump pump can cause blockages and other major problems, such as further flooding due to an overflowed pump.

That said, here’s how you are able to keep your sump pump from getting frozen during the colder seasons.

  • Maintain Water Flow

Make sure that the water in your pump keeps running. The water in your sump pump is more likely to freeze if it remains still and unmoving for a period of time. Even the smallest amount of ice in your pump can cause blockages, which will prevent your pump from working.

frozen sump pump

To avoid any of the water in your pump from freezing up and clogging or messing with your pump’s function, maintain a steady water flow both in and out of your pump. If you notice that any frozen water is starting to form or build up, adjust your settings to increase the water flow.

  • Avoid Contact with Cold Air

Surely, some part of your sump pump is located outdoors and it’s much harder to keep that part from getting chilled by the freezing air outdoors. However, if you want to keep your sump pump moving and working, then you have to avoid any or all exposure to cold air.

The problem with frozen water may not be in your tank, but your outdoor pipes. There are several ways that you can avoid the pipes or water becoming frozen by the cold air. One of them is to cover up your pipes to keep it insulated from the air.

You are able to use hay and tarp for this purpose. Another possible solution is to modify your pipes so that they are deeper underground.

  • Utilize Gravity

Instead of putting your sump pump on a level surface, you may want to consider putting it on a slight slope. Gravity will keep your water moving and ensures that the flow will prevent any freezing from occurring. This natural means of keeping your water flowing can help you save up on energy spent by the motor to do what gravity can do for you.

  • Insulate Intake and Discharge Sections

Similar to taking measures to insulate your outdoor pipes, you should also insulate the portion of your pump where water gets taken in and gets discharged. By insulating these parts, you are assured that the water remains warm enough to flow. As a result, this will prevent the freezing and blocking up of any portions of your pump.

  • Maintain Good Drainage

Some difficulties in your water discharge may arise if the area of discharge is prone to freezing. Your pump will have to work extra hard to discharge your water in a frozen area and can end up overheating.

When your pump’s motor overheats, there is a huge chance that it will stop working and cause flooding in your basement. To avoid this from happening, you can ensure that the water discharge is redirected somewhere with better drainage.

You are able to do this in conjunction with letting gravity do most of the work by not only sloping your sump pump but putting the drainage in an area where the water flows downhill.

  • Distance Your Discharge Hose from Water Discharge Area

If your waste water area is too close to your discharge pump, it is likely that it can freeze up and cause further discharge problems for your pump. By putting the waste water discharge area much farther from your pump, you will be able to avoid this from happening.

  • Keep Back Ups Ready

In the event that your main discharge hose gets frozen, be prepared with a backup discharge pipe. Install the backup so that it ends up in a different direction than where the main line is installed.

This is so that it can be utilized if there are any problems with the main discharge line and where it leads to.

  • Use Larger Pipes

Using larger pipes means that it can take longer for complete blockage to happen, even if your water ends up getting frozen. Because of the larger diameter of your pipes, it is unlikely that it gets completely filled up by your water. As a result, it will not totally freeze up in there.

  • Maintain Your Sump Pump

If you know that the cold season is coming, it’s best to prepare your sump pump by scheduling regular maintenance for it. Not only will this ensure that it will run better and more efficiently by the time the cold sets in, but you will also be aware of any potential problems that you might be facing when winter comes.

It’s easier to deal with and be aware of these things before they actually happen, as it can be much harder to fix when freezing and blockages have already taken place.

  • Heat Your Water

Alternatively, you are also able to heat up your sump water to become lukewarm. This way, it can take longer for it to freeze completely. This can prevent blockages and lessen the pressure on your motor and pipes.

Take note that you have to make the water warm and not heat up the pump itself or any of its components. Doing so can cause accidents and damage, which is what we are trying to avoid in the first place.


Frozen sump pumps are a major threat to any home located in areas prone to cold climate. This is why if you live in one, then you best be prepared for what it means for your sump pump.

If you know that your sump pump is prone to dealing with freezing problems, then take the necessary measures before winter arrives so that you’ll be better prepared for the eventuality of the cold weather.