Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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Sump Pump Problems in Winter and Other Cold Weather Pump Issues: Professional Advice to Keep Your Building’s Pumps Running

With each passing year, extreme weather in the Northeast gets worse, largely due to climate change. Your sump pump is an essential method to prevent interior water damage. If you had problems with it last winter, or if you aren’t confident in its performance this year, read on. We discuss sump pump problems in winter, as well as winter season issues that may crop up with other pumps in your New York City condo or co-op property.

The Purpose of Your Sump Pump

Prevention of indoor flooding

The sump pump (aka stormwater sump) isn’t a fancy device, but it’s important to protect the lower levels of your building. It detects rising water, typically due to heavy rainfall or snowmelt, and pumps it away before it can come inside and cause damage.

A float sensor in the pump basin triggers the pump to turn on when the water level reaches a certain depth. Usually, the water is pumped via a discharge line to a distant location in the landscaping outside or, in dense city areas, to the drainage system.

Sump Pump Problems in Winter

Causes and symptoms

By far the most common sump pump problem in winter that we see at Antler Pumps is freezing of the ground around the pump and its discharge line. Unfortunately, New York is subject to a wide range of winter temperatures, from mild, rainy weather to deep freezes similar to what residents of northern New England and Quebec experience all winter.

When those frigid temperatures hit, your discharge line can freeze along with the ground. This is because water may remain in the line from previous use, or once the pump starts running, the water being removed is just a trickle, not moving fast enough to keep it from freezing. Just like with any pipe, slow-moving water can freeze and accumulate, on top of expanding as it freezes. Pretty soon, the entire discharge line is blocked, and the sump pump can’t do its intended job.

What are the symptoms of a frozen sump pump discharge line? You’ll probably notice all three of these things:

  1. Water keeps rising in the basin and may even start to flood the inside of the property.
  2. The sump pump runs constantly, trying to remove the water, but with the ice-clogged discharge line, there’s nowhere to send it.
  3. No water is running at the far end of the discharge pipe, whether in your yard or where it feeds into the city drain lines.

Obviously, water coming into the interior of the property is the worst consequence. However, if the pump runs constantly, it could burn out the motor, leaving you with a second problem on your hands.

Solutions for sump pump problems in winter

In places that endure consistent freezing temperatures all winter – mostly north of the border in Canada – properties disconnect their sump pumps for winter. But that isn’t a practical solution for New York City, where you may have a deep freeze in January that turns into a rainstorm in early February, necessitating the use of your sump pump.

A better solution is to insulate the discharge line to prevent freezing. In many cases, these lines run above or just below the surface, leaving them subject to freezing and thawing all winter long. If you insulate or bury the line deeply, you can eliminate these cycles that put your pump and property in danger.

There are three other fixes that can help prevent your sump pump from backing up in winter:

  1. Use a wider diameter pipe, which is also helpful in times of heavy rainstorms and hurricanes.
  2. Make sure the gradient for the pipe runs downhill from where it originates.
  3. Check to see that the size of the sump pump is sufficient for the demand being placed on it, as weather conditions have changed over the last decade or two, when it was probably installed.

Common Wintertime Problems with Other Pumps

High demand means more maintenance

What about the other pumps in your property during winter? As we mentioned above, a pump that runs constantly is vulnerable to burning out or breaking down. This is a risk with pumps that see more demand in winter, especially those associated with your boiler system.

You have multiple pumps running hard during cold weather, providing the boiler with fresh water, circulating hot water or steam, and bringing condensate back to the boiler. If your boiler system pumps are older, have had problems before, or are overdue for maintenance, now is the time to tend to them before winter sets in.

The experts from Antler Pumps can check things like:

  • Pump mounting
  • Cracks in the pump casing
  • Broken or clogged valves
  • Hardened gaskets and seals
  • Impeller problems
  • Electrical issues with the motor
  • Lubrication and bearings
  • Pump settings for optimum performance

You reduce the probability of having a pump failure this winter with proactive maintenance in the fall.

Fix Potential Sump Pump Problems Before Winter

Act before freezing temperatures

As important as it is to take care of your boiler system pumps in autumn (and your rooftop equipment too), it’s equally vital to ensure your sump pump will function properly when it needs to this winter. If your sump pump has failed or frozen, or if you worry about your sump pump’s reliability this winter, don’t delay. Call Antler Pumps at 212-534-2500 for a checkup now, while the weather is still warm enough to fix any potential issues. You’ll thank yourself this winter when the rains come and your building is protected.


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You can browse some areas of omniagroup.nyc (“the Website”) without being a registered user. However, certain activities do require registration. (You consent to the transfer and storage of your information by registering with omniagroup.nyc).

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Our primary purpose in collecting personal information is to provide you with a safe and user-friendly experience. For example, the Company may use your personal information to:

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The Company does not guarantee the accuracy of information for any and all of its properties on the Website, and is not responsible for any errors or misrepresentations (made by Renters, the Client, or otherwise).

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