Most home’s built in the Fargo, North Dakota, metro have a drain tile around the foundation and a sump pump in the basement or crawlspace. Drain tile and sump pump are the home’s primary defense to keep the basement dry.
The drain tile is commonly a perforated pipe (Fig. 1) that is installed along the foundation and it’s main job is to move water that accumulates next to the foundation and under the house into the sump pump pit. From the sump pump pit the water is pumped out of the basement through the exterior wall in an above grade or below grade pipe.
Newer homes may have a diverter valve (Fig. 2) that allows you to either discharge water into the sewer system or through the exterior wall. This feature, is ideal in areas with colder climates as it will eliminate concerns with the exterior pipe freezing which could lead to sump pump failure and even a flooded basement.
Without the option to discharge sump pump water to the sewer system the sump pump is usually discharged through the exterior wall during colder months (Fig. 3). With this option it is important to disconnect the flexible hose before the winter to prevent it from freezing (Fig. 4). If the sump pump hose freezes over and water keeps flowing into the sump pump pit the sump pump will run continuously without being able to pump the water out. The sump pump will likely burn out and your basement may flood (Fig.5).
In preparation for the winter season, we recommend installing a larger pipe (for example a 4″ PVC pipe) over the pipe that comes out of the exterior wall (Fig. 6). With the larger pipe in place it is less likely to freeze and you are still able to discharge sump pump water away from the foundation.
This is in our opinion the best way to discharge water from your sump pump in winter months unless you have the option to discharge water to the sewer system directly.
For more winterization tips, check out the edition Lars Knows Winterization and other Lars Knows editions to learn how you can better protect your home and protect your investment.