Oh those stubborn sump lines

I went to an appointment recently on a sump pump drain line that continues to break at the fittings even after gluing. So was the callers problem.

After seeing the offending pipes, it was very clear what was happening.

OK stop reading. Cover up the rest of the page. Think about the sump lines in your yard, spewing water back at your foundation. Know what it is?

Good, because the homeowner had a handyman coming to fix it and he didn’t know what the problem was either. Made clearer through the description of his fix.

It gets cold around here. Dayton, Ohio is not northern Michigan, but you have to build like it is. We get frost heave and freezing pipes here too. Sump lines are like your water supplies inside; they freeze below 32 deg. too.

So two things have to happen right? One, you need to protect the pipes from freezing or two, you have to give the water a place to expand. When it comes to sump lines, the amateur use 1 1/2″ pipe outside. “We’ll, the pipe coming out is 1 1/2″ so I’ll just continue it. Thru the elbows, down into the ground and into my French drain in the yard ( bad idea also, but that’s another post).

The issue becomes one of middle school science. As water freezes it….expands! Except in an 1 1/2” pipe there is no place for it to go. I know my path of least resistance would be that annoying fitting! Bang! Ahhhh.. 100 gallons a minute fills that pipe pretty fast.

So, what’s the fix? Bigger pipe. The pro who does this everyday in a freeze prone climate already new the answer back when I said “stop”. 4″ schedule 35 PVC pipe is the pipe of choice. Schedule 40 inside DWV is over kill and a bit more expensive, but wouldn’t hurt. Don’t use plastic drain tile as it can get crushed from settlement.

Piping should be 4″ right up to the 90 deg. stub out at the house. They actually make a nice transition cap for the pipe that the 1 1/2″ pipe slides into. Allowing room for water to back up if it ever actually hardens the middle of the pipe with out destroying all your hard work. Make sure there is plenty of fall to the open end of the pipe to discharge and drains water. If you can’t pipe to the street, get the discharge end out of the ground so it thoroughly drains water. The French drain thing with gravel is a temporary fix, but they fill with mud and silt and don’t drain after a while either.

So, get to work on the water in your yard and make sure it is far away from the foundation. This is your best strategy for a dry basement and a happy sump pump!

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