How to Fix a Frozen Sump Pump

Last Updated on by Anthony Brown

A frozen sump pump can spell trouble when you need your pump to be working the most to keep your basement area dry and moisture free. Here are some things to consider if a frozen sump pump is causing you grief.

The most obvious thing to do is defrost the pump, unfreeze the lines and raise the temperature in your basement but if it is the middle of winter that might not be an option. Plus, you don’ t want to damage the pump while warming it up.

5 Steps to Fix Your Frozen Sump Pump

One of the biggest considerations if your sump pump is frozen how to keep your basement warmer. In colder climates a basement can be a burden to heat but at the same time, you need to at least be keeping it warm enough for the systems of your home to be able to operate well. If you need help troubleshooting your frozen pump try our 5 step guide!

Step 1 – Cut the Power

Before working on anything that involves water make sure to turn off the power. Either flip the switch on the breaker or unplug the entire sump pump (and alarm) so you avoid a shock and possible trip to the hospital!

Step 2 – Empty Standing Water

If there is standing water in the pump or bin empty it through the drain or by hand with a pump. In order to unfreeze the pump you need to raise the temperature and remove any standing water! Other ways to drain your pump pit include a drain pump or wet vac!

Step 3 – Raise the Temperature

Raise the temperature in your basement by turning on the heater or moving a space heater closer to your pump. A frozen pump (or frozen lines) can’t drain your pit and keep the basement dry.

The easiest way to unfreeze a pump (or prevent freezing in the first place) is to raise the temperature above freezing. Basements are often the coldest part of the house – especially if the windows are not well insulated!

Step 4 – Check for Blocks

Make sure there is not blockages in the pump pipes – from ice, snow or other debris. Remove as much as possible so the line can flow.

Step 5 – Pour Boiling Water

To remove any ice or frozen water from the pump pit boil a large pot of water. Once it is ready slowly (and safely) pour the hot water down the pump pipes to remove the ice.

Frozen Sump Pump Hoses

Your pump may be up and running – but what happens if the hose freezes? Frozen hoses can causes just as many problems as broken pumps. Always make sure to check the hoses as well as the pumps when the weather drops below freezing! If the hoses feel cold try to warm them up with some towels from the dryer or at least wrap cover the pump with a blanket.

Does Freeze Guard Work?

Freeze Guard
You may have heard of a product called sump pump freeze guard. Most seem to work by allowing water to escape vertically in case of an ice blockage. Overall we think the best on the market is the Raybend Freeze Drain but you should make sure to get one that fits your home!

Frozen Pumps And Ground Temperatures

Water can flow at lower than freezing temperatures. The ground temperature can be warmer than the temperature above ground. This difference can make the difference between a frozen sump pump and a functioning one. It is also possible that only parts of your sump pump are frozen. Pipes and hoses can be frozen when other parts are not.

Frozen Sump Pump Discharge Pipes

Like any pipe, wrapping your discharge pipe with insulation can prevent freezing and allow your sump pump system to operate well even under harsh weather conditions.

A frozen sump pump line can contain a large blockage of ice you may need to chip the ice away or use warm water to clear the blockage temporarily until other repairs and assessments can be made.

Overflowing Sump Pump Pit

If your pump is frozen, then the pit may overflow into your basement. Water in the pit may even seem warm because the pump is working very hard to try to get water out through a frozen discharge pipe.

Remember to unplug your pump before bailing out any water or assessing your sump pump or pit just in case of electrical issues being present.

Worn Out Sump Pump Due To Freezing

Unfortunately, if your sump pump is frozen and it is not noticed it can lead to a pump completely burning out and water building up in your basement.

This can be prevented by paying attention to your pump during severe weather conditions. Regularly checking to make sure your pump is working is highly advised if cold temperatures are present along with a high level of moisture.

Checking your discharge pipe regularly is one of the easier ways to check for the most common place freezing occurs.

Raising Temperature In Basement And Reducing Moisture

Frozen conditions need to be addressed on many levels. Talking to a sump pump professional is the best way to make sure you are on the right path when it comes to maintaining and servicing your sump pump.

Better insulation and making sure basement vents are closed during cold temperatures can help prevent frozen sump pump issues.