Should You Bury Your Sump Pump Discharge Pipe, or Not?
Monday, February 22nd, 2021 by Trevor Stokes
What is a sump pump?
Before talking about sump pump discharges, let's first identify what a sump pump is.
A sump pump is a device placed in the lowest point of your house, which is often your basement or crawl space. It then directs any excess water away from your home through a discharge line.
Basements are, hands-down, the most common place to get water damage and a sump pump is a great way to avoid flooding, water damage, and mold growth in your home.
Unfortunately, building a home with no sump pump or waterproofing systems was common for many years. But luckily, building codes have changed and the focus has shifted to take a more preventative approach.
Now, a damp-proof coating, drainage system, and sump basin are all required in most jurisdictions. Not only that, but many jurisdictions even require a pump installed in the basin to discharge water that collects around the foundation.
Do I even need a sump pump?
Basements are a hole in the ground. And what do we know about holes when it rains? They fill with water.
Code officials recognized this problem and changed building codes to include waterproofing systems.
If your home is less than 20 years old, you most likely have a sump basin and maybe a pump. But if your home is older than 20 years, it's a less likely you have a sump pump.
Think of it this way. A sump pump system is a very affordable insurance policy against a flooded basement. If you don't have one, you should consider having one installed.
BEFORE: Code requires a sump basin and sometimes a sump pump. This is a typical sump pump set up as installed during the construction of a home. AFTER: This photo shows an upgraded sump basin and pump. The TripleSafe Sump System provides an air-tight lid, high water alarm, and an optional battery back-up pump.
Where should the water be discharged from the sump pump?
Every sump pump has to have a discharge pipe to remove the water from the sump basin.
This discharge line should be sized according to the pump manufacturer's recommendations. Most sump pumps have a recommended discharge size of 1.5 inches.
The line must be run to the outside of the house. Many homeowners want the pipe connected to their sewer, but this is against code. City officials clarify that they will not allow rainwater to be pumped into the sewer, as wastewater must be treated. Pumping sump pumps into the sewer system overwhelms these systems and forces cities to dump untreated wastewater into our rivers. Additionally, a discharge line that is run into the sewer may delay a home's sale, as it will be flagged during a home inspection.
Discharge lines should also never be run into a septic system, as it will overwhelm the septic system and cause damage and potentially a gigantic mess. Since discharges can't be run into sewer or septic systems, the only option is to run them out into your yard. A professional sump pump installer will work with you to determine a good location for the discharge to exit your home and pump the water to a place where it can run off efficiently. The line will then run through a hole in the foundation or your rim joist.
Should I bury my sump pump discharge line? Here are some sump pump discharge ideas to help you decide
Once the pipe runs outside, you'll want to ensure it lands in a place where the water will be able to run off without causing a pool or a muddy mess. It's impossible to predict how much water will be ejected by your sump pump over time, so it's always best to assume it will be a significant amount. That way, you don't have to make changes later.
Several things can go wrong with your discharge as it exits your house to the outdoor elements:
- The line can get broken or removed.
- This can happen to lines that run along the top of the ground. If they are in the yard, they are susceptible to being broken.
- Sometimes, they even get removed during lawn mowing and are forgotten.
- The line can get buried by mulch, dirt, or grass. This happens whether it's buried or not, but it's a good practice to check the end of the discharge every time you mow your lawn to ensure this doesn't happen.
- The line can freeze or get buried by snow, causing it to block the water flow.
- The line isn't run far enough from the house or runs to a location that doesn't drain well. If you discharge water next to the foundation, it'll just cycle back into the sump pump and may overwhelm the system, causing a flooded basement. If the grade in the area doesn't drain away from the house, you will have the same issue of recycling water, or worse, end up with a swamp in your yard.
IceGuard is a patented system that allows water to escape from the discharge when a buried pipe is blocked. This is most commonly from the pipe freezing, and the discharge will return to working order as soon as the pipe thaws.
One of the best ways to avoid most of these potential issues is to bury the discharge underground in a suitable location in the yard. The only way this will eliminate the problems is if it's done correctly and keeps these things in mind:
- An escape path in case of clogging or freezing is a must. IceGuard is the best option available.
- The buried portion of the pipe should be at least double the diameter of the rest of the discharge line. This is because the pipe underground relies on gravity to drain and needs more room to travel more slowly.
- Ensure the discharge exits the home in a place where the buried line can be run downhill the entire way to the exit location.
- Terminate with a screen to prevent animals, leaves, and debris from clogging the exit point. Two good options can be used based on the slope in the yard:
- Lawnscape Outlet - this is an outlet designed to be installed in a yard with some positive slope. The advantage is that water can continuously drain out, but it can only be installed in situations where you can truly get to daylight.
- Lawnscape Bubble Pot - this outlet is designed for flat yards. If the yard doesn't have a slope and daylight cannot be reached, this outlet will fill with water and overflow to allow water to escape into the yard.
A Lawnscape Outlet is an excellent sump pump discharge idea for terminating a discharge line in a yard with some slope. It is grated to prevent animals and leaves from clogging it.
How much does a sump pump cost?
While sump pumps are standard in most homes, the quality of pumps does vary. For that reason, it's vital to make sure you buy a high-quality sump pump and ensure the discharge is run in a way that won't cause you problems.
The cost of installing a high-quality pump is usually around $350- 500 if there is an existing sump basin. Keep in mind that if a basin has to be installed or if you want to upgrade the existing basin, there will be additional costs. That can add several hundred dollars more to the project. If you choose to hire a professional to bury your discharge and you include a product like IceGuard, you will usually pay another $200- 400 if you can bury the line within 15 feet of the exit point. The longer the buried portion of the discharge, the more it will cost; however, getting the discharge to terminate in a good location is critical if you want it to work well and not leave you with a swamp.
Free Sump Pump Estimates.
Speak to a Thrasher rep today to find out how your discharge pipe can be buried while avoiding the potential risks of burying a sump pump discharge line. Thrasher Foundation Repair has been in the sump pump business since 1975 and can provide a comprehensive review of your options. To schedule an estimate for a sump pump today, give us a call or reach out here.