How to Fix a Frozen Sump Pump Line

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Things You'll Need

  • Space heater (optional)

  • Hair dryer (optional)

  • Submersible pump or wet/dry vacuum

  • Screwdriver

  • Wrench set

  • Large pot


When warmer weather rolls around, check the sump pump’s drain line. Dig it up and examine it to ensure it angles downward, away from the house. If the line is not angled properly, water will fail to drain, collect inside and freeze. While you have access to the line, wrap some pipe insulation around it. The insulation will help prevent freezing during the winter months.

During the spring and fall months, a sump pump can prove invaluable. This is due to the fact that melting snow and rainstorms often coincide. As a result, flooding becomes a very real problem. Cold temperatures frequently occur during these months as well, which may lead to a frozen drain line on the sump pump. If the drain line is frozen, the pump will fail in its function to evacuate water from the basement, leading to a potentially severe and costly problem. Fortunately, with patience and time, it is possible to thaw the pump's line.


Step 1

Cut off the power to the sump pump. Switch the pump off, unplug it or turn it off at the breaker box.

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Step 2

Inspect the area where the drain line empties outside your house. Look for ice or snow blocking the end of the line. Remove any visible obstructions. If you suspect the ice is very near the end of the drain line, set up a space heater next to the drain opening and allow it to remain there for roughly an hour. You can also connect a hair dryer to an extension cord and blow hot air into the opening of the drain. Otherwise, if you believe the ice is too far away to be melted by the space heater or hair dryer, proceed to steps 3 through 7.


Step 3

Empty any remaining water from the sump pump pit. If you have a small, submersible pump, use it to discharge the water from the sump pit. You can also use a wet/dry vacuum to empty the pit. If necessary, use a cup and bucket to physically bail out the water.

Step 4

Detach the drain line from the pump. A screwdriver or small wrench will be required to loosen the line from most sump pumps.

Step 5

Boil a large pot of water. Carefully pour the boiling water into the sump pump's drain line. If the water begins to back up into the sump pump pit, remove it as needed.


Step 6

Continue pouring boiling water down the line until it thaws and drains freely. It may take repeated attempts before the ice is completely thawed. The water should drain freely once the ice blockage has been thawed.

Step 7

Reconnect the line to the pump. Turn the power back on to the sump pump.