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Sump Pumps Demystified: Answers To 3 Common Questions About Your Discharge System

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Sump pumps help to protect your home from flooding by routing away excess water. Yet where that water goes--and how--remain topics of mystery for many. If you would like to increase your knowledge of sump pump systems, read on. This article will answer three questions about what happens to all that unwanted water.

Can the water be routed into a floor drain?

Many people figure there's no possible harm in routing their sump pump's waste water into a floor drain in their basement. After all, they figure, that's what the city sewer systems are for. Yet while this may seem like logical reasoning, it's not.

Municipal wastewater systems just aren't designed to handle the volume of water displaced by a sump pump--let alone the dozens or even hundreds of sump pumps operating during storms or floods. Those who choose to route their sump pump discharge pipe into a floor drain run the risk of causing sewage backups or other serious--and seriously unsanitary--problems.

How far from my house should the discharge pipe lead?

The proper idea when it comes to rerouting flood water is to send it beyond the walls of your house through a discharge pipe. Yet people often fail to consider just how far away this water needs to go. Those who don't discharge it far enough from their foundation often end having to pump the same water out over and over again--eventually causing their overworked sump pump to burn out.

Your discharge pipe should release its water a minimum of 20 feet away from your home. The ideal scenario is to situate the discharge pipe along a downward slope. That way there will be no risk of the water flowing back into your basement. Yet when selecting an outflow site for your pipe, keep in mind that you want to avoid things such as:

  • city sewer grates
  • window wells
  • septic fields
  • neighboring properties

Is there a way to avoid burn out due to a frozen discharge pipe?

By blocking the outflow of waste water, a frozen discharge pipe can easily cause a sump pump motor to burn out. This is often a cause of major concern for those living in areas with subzero winters. Yet thanks to a feature known as the thermal relay switch, this no longer has to be a worry.  

Found on most newer sump pumps, a thermal relay switch is responsible for shutting your sump pump down in the event that the discharge pipe becomes frozen--or blocked in any other manner, for that matter. To get the pump running again, simply allow the motor to cool while you thaw the discharge pipe.

For further information, contact local professionals, such as those from