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What Is a Sump Pump Discharge Line?

Discharge Line

Installing a sump pump is one of the best ways to deal with basement floods. This device will remove water and direct it away from your home. It attaches to a pipe that we call a discharge line. In the following, we’ll discuss everything there is to know about sump pump discharge lines and why you should invest in one yourself.

What Are Discharge Lines?

exterior drainage of sump pump installation

Discharge lines are pipes that link to your sump pump and direct water away from your home. They can be PVC or copper pipes. Nevertheless, professionals use PVC pipes as they are much sturdier than the other options available and don’t rust. Additionally, discharge pipes can be buried underground so as not to disrupt the aesthetics of your family home and landscaping.

The proper installation of a discharge line means that it will direct water as far as possible away from your foundation. However, lots of inexperienced homeowners and contractors leave them to dump the excess water right next to the structure. This then causes the water to pool in the home’s perimeter, backfiring and causing the same problems again and again. Hence, it’s essential to make sure your discharge line dumps the water as far as possible away from your home.

In a perfect scenario, you will be able to direct the water through a discharge line into a nearby stream or a street drain. Nevertheless, the discharge line should be installed in such a way that it causes water to run downhill, making backflows impossible. 

Possible Sump Pump and Discharge Line Issues

For these appliances to work properly, you will need to make sure that the discharge line isn’t too narrow. If it is, it won’t be able to remove all the water that the sump pump is pumping out of the basement or crawl space. The lack of width will backfire and even make the pump fail in some cases.

Another possible issue to keep an eye out for is the discharge point. Dirt and debris can block it, making the water back up into your basement or crawl space. Moreover, during cold winter days, water can freeze there and clog the discharge line. You can eliminate this issue with the use of FreezeGuard attachment, helping the water drain outside without damaging the sump pump.

Besides the previous two problems, water can wash back down into your sump pit if the valve isn’t working properly. The valve is there to prevent water from falling back into the sump pit each time you turn off the pump. In case of a malfunctioning valve, the natural water and tear of the sump pump will increase, burning out the pump much earlier than in normal circumstances.

How to Properly Install a Discharge Line

We should point out that installing a discharge line isn’t something you can do by yourself. It’s best to contact professional help in Michigan. The safety of your home and belongings is at stake, so it’s best to not risk it. 

The installation process will go something like this:

  • First, contractors will install a sump pump in the basement or crawl space and make sure it sits firmly on the floor.
  • Once they do that, they will connect a three or four-inch PVC pipe with the discharge hole on the sump pump using PVC cement or simply an adapter. To prevent airlocks, the contractors will drill a ¼-inch hole in the PVC pipe, six inches above the outlet.
  • Next, they will install a vertical check valve to prevent the water from going back into the sump pump.
  • After these three initial steps, contractors will drill a hole in the wall for the discharge pipe. They will connect a PVC pipe with adequate PVC cement so that the line goes towards the preferred dumping spot.
  • Once the pipe goes through the exit hole, the contractors will seal it with silicone caulk. By doing this, they will make sure that moisture, water, or pests can’t come into the basement or crawl space through openings created during installation.
  • The last step includes digging up a trench in the ground to place the drain pipe below the frost line.
exterior discharge line being installed

Public Sewage System and Discharge Lines

Some homeowners and contractors believe the most effective way to get rid of water from your basement is to redirect it into the sewers. But if every homeowner in your area would do so, the sewer system would simply collapse during heavy rains. Therefore, directing the water from sump pump discharge lines into public sewers is illegal nowadays.

In case you’re looking to waterproof your basement and install a sump pump, look no further than FSM. Our team provides service to the Detroit area, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and surrounding areas in Michigan. With our help, you’ll have a proper waterproofing system in your basement which will allow you to enjoy your home the way you should for years to come. So, schedule a free estimate right now and prevent water-related damage from endangering you and your family.

Discharge Line FAQs

Many homeowners don’t install an anti-freezing measure because they aren’t aware that they need one in the first place. Problems with the discharge line become obvious only when it freezes and that’s when it’s too late to do anything about it. It’s important not to wait for this to happen.  

Freezing Temperatures  

If you’re wondering if you’re in an area that needs a FreezeGuard, it’s best to start with knowing how low the thermometer can go where you live. If your area dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you may need to install the protection. That’s the temperature at which water freezes and your discharge line may clog with ice. Typically, the line will clog at lower temperatures than that since the water inside the line is in motion.  

It’s also important to figure out how long the water will be inside the line. If there’s a level of water inside the sump pit or the line, it will start to freeze. That means that if you have a lot of water to discharge, there’s more of a chance that it will freeze. However, cold snaps happen as well.  

How to Know If Your Home Potentially Reaches Freezing Temperatures 

Many areas that seem relatively warm, get cold enough for the water to freeze during the night. There are also freak weather events like whiteouts. When this happens, both your pipes and the discharge line may be in danger of bursting or clogging. It’s best to consult the experts installing your drainage system and install a FreezeGuard when installing the discharge line itself.  

The state of your crawl space is also an important feature to consider since it can leave the discharge line exposed to the cold. If the crawl space vents are uncovered, chances are that you’ll have more of a problem during the winter. It’s important to take steps to protect the crawl space and monitor how cold it is. Crawl spaces can be easily encapsulated with the help of the professional in the field. This is a long-term solution as important as installing a FreezeGuard.

A sump pump is part of a larger drainage system and it’s used to drain any water that may have gotten into your basement. The pump’s function is simple enough and a homeowner doesn’t have to do anything to make sure that the pump is working. However, it’s useful to know how it works to address issues that may come up. 

Detect Water Intake 

The first step is for the sump pump to detect the level of water that you have in your basement or crawl space. The pump doesn’t work until there’s enough water for it to be activated and to start pumping the water out. This is an automatic process and it can be tested by throwing in a bucket of water into the sump pit and seeing if the pump starts. 

The pump is activated by a floating switch, which is pushed upward when the level of water rises high enough. That way your protection is both efficient and effective. There’s no reason for the pump to be damaged by the wear and tear of it running dry. It also reduces the energy bill. 

Pump out Water  

The following step is for the water to be pumped out of the basement. This process works differently depending on what kind of pump you’re using. However, regardless of how the pump works, the end goal is the same and that is to pump the water out and keep the basement dry

The drainage capability of a pump also depends on the type of motor that your pump uses. It also depends on the size and capacity of the discharge line, which is the line that is used to remove the water being pumped out by the sump pump. Many problems arise because the pump has too weak a motor or because the discharge line is blocked by debris or ice. 

Direct Water Away from the Home 

Once the sump pump has removed the water it needs to have a place to go. The water can’t be simply directed outside so that it pours out in front of the home. This will increase the hydrostatic pressure that the water places on the home. Instead, the water should be directed into a storm drain or further in the yard since there it can’t cause damage to the property. 

Some older sump pumps may have a discharge line that ends right outside the home itself. If this is the case with your sump pump, you may want to consider upgrading it or installing drains that will be connected to the discharge line. This will protect the property from both floods and hydrostatic pressure. 

It’s very important to install the FreezeGuard correctly. That’s the only way for it to work and do what it’s supposed to. Keep in mind that you’ll need a professional to accomplish just that.  

How to Know Whether You Can Install FreezeGuard.  

The FreezeGuard system is a patent and it can only be installed by the installers that are authorized to do so. If you’re installing a sump pump system as a whole, make sure to use our service since we’re authorized to install the FreezeGurds in the process. That way you’ll get the whole package and be protected in the winter.  

A homeowner can’t install a FreezeGuard on their own and the device isn’t sold in stores by itself. It’s not a project that should be available for those who are interested in DIY repairs since it’s much better to leave it to those who are experts in the area, as our team is.  

Information from an Expert  

FreezeGuards are used in many homes, but every home is unique and how it can be protected depends on many factors. That’s why it’s important for our experts to examine the home and to make sure that the FreezeGuard is the solution that will best suit your home and its condition.  

We have an experienced, knowledgeable, and friendly team that it’s easy to work with. If you have any questions about choosing the FreezeGuard or about any other part of the process, don’t hesitate to ask and we’ll be happy to provide assistance and guidance.  

Add an Extra Layer of Protection to Your Sump Pump with the FreezeGuard Exterior Discharge Line Attachment  

Not every home needs a FreezeGuard exterior discharge line attachment. Those who live in areas where temperatures get below freezing can benefit from them since they are used to prevent the discharge line from clogging with ice. That’s sometimes necessary to make sure your sump pump is working and your basement is dry.  

It’s a useful addition to your sump pump system, even though it’s a minor one. Having a FreezeGuard doesn’t require a homeowner to do anything since it will work on its own and get activated when there’s a need for it. FreezeGuards are compatible with most sump pumps but you’ll need an expert to help you install them.

Leah Leitow

Leah Leitow

Content Writer

Leah is a Content Writer for Groundworks with nearly ten years of experience working in the foundation repair industry. Her experience ranges from working with homeowners to find the right solution to training inspectors and staff. In her background as a Michigan journalist, she gained invaluable insight into people's lives throughout our state. Leah lives in metro Detroit with her husband and two sons.

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