Why Is Your Basement Floor Drain Not Draining?

Posted on: 2 January 2019

In most homes, the basement floor drain does not get regular use. However, when your basement floods or a pipe breaks, you rely on this floor drain to rid your floor of water and ensure your building structure does not suffer water damage. What should you do, then, if your basement floor drain does not appear to be draining? Consider these potential causes of the poor drainage and how to address each one.

1. Clogged drain holes

Most basement drains feature tiny holes in a drain cover. This drain cover's placement prevents larger debris from entering the drain. However, the holes can get clogged by debris like cat hair, dust, and mold spores.

Check your drain cover to ensure the drain holes are exposed and not clogged by any material. If the holes appear fully or partially blocked, use a toothbrush to scrub the grime away. You may want to apply some baking soda to the drain cover for extra grit; this helps scrub away more caked-on grime.

In cleaning the drain cover, you may discover that rust or corrosion has begun blocking the holes. If this is the case, you'll need to remove the drain cover and replace it. Generally, you can pop the drain cover off by just slipping a screwdriver under the lip of the drain cover and pulling upward. Take it with you to the hardware store so you can purchase another drain cover of the same size.

2. Blockages in the upper part of the drain

As with any drain, small amounts of debris and grime can work their way down into the drain pipes. This debris can cling to the interior of the drain pipes and eventually cause a blockage -- or simply cause the drain to slow down. 

Many blockages in the upper part of a drain pipe can be cleared by your own efforts. Remove the drain cover, and pour some boiling water down the drain. This will help "melt" away much of the grime. If this does not work, try pouring some hot, white vinegar down the drain. 

If the practices above do not get your drain running freely again, then you probably have one of the more serious drain issues discussed below.

3. A blockage in the lower part of the drain

The drain pipe immediately connected to your floor drain feeds into a larger one. This large one is too far under the surface of the soil for you to access on your own. It may become clogged with regular debris that flows down the drain, but it can also experience clogs caused by soil that enters through small cracks in the pipe -- or by tree roots that grow into the pipe.

A blockage in the lower part of your drain pipe needs to be dealt with by a professional. They can send a tool called a hydro jet into the drain. It will eject water at high pressure, wearing the debris away from the inside of the pipe.

4. A collapsed pipe

The other possibility is that part of your drain pipe has collapsed, so water can no longer make its way down it. The foundation of your home may have shifted, putting pressure on the pipe and causing part of it to collapse. Or a tree in the area may have grown roots that pushed on the pipe and led to collapse. Your plumber can send a camera down into your pipe to see if it has collapsed. If it has, they can dig up the pipe and replace it with a new one.

Don't ignore a blocked floor drain! You never know when you might need it to save you from water damage. Get in touch with a drain repair specialist for more information.

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Knowing When It’s Time to Call the Plumber

My name is Jason Lawrence, or around my house I’m sometimes known as “Daddy Fix-It.” My wife Sarah and I have four children all under the age of ten. I didn’t start out as a guy who was handy around the house, but I am learning to become a do-it-yourselfer for sure. Did I mention that I’m a bit stubborn? There are times I struggle with projects a little too long, and it takes my wife stepping in to convince me that it’s time to call a professional. I’ve become especially handy with plumbing projects. I don’t know why kids think toys belong in the toilet and doll hair is good for the bathtub drain, but around here those are weekly events. I’m going to share some of my experiences, how I fixed some of our plumbing problems, and when it becomes time to call the plumber.

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