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Basement Drain Backing Up In Winter

Why Did My Basement Floor Drain Backup

Basement Floor Drain Cleaning

A basement floor drain backup is almost never caused by a clog in the basement floor drain itself. In every home, the basement floor drain connects to the main drain line. Therefore, its a main sewer line clog that almost almost always causes the floor drain to back up. In fact, main drain line clogs cause 99% of floor drain backups.

Liquids always take the path of least resistance. Because the basement floor drain is the lowest opening in the homes drainage system, sewage and water coming up from the basement floor drain backup is a sign that your home has a main sewer line clog. And the potentially expensive water damage that results is a plumbing emergency that needs to be dealt with immediately.

How To Fix Basement Floor Drain Backing Up

A basement floor drain backing up is usually due to wastewater looking for a place to escape when there is a problem with the sewer line. The drain connects to the main sewer line. The water seeks the lowest point in the home, and that is the basement. However, this backup is often not even related to the wastewater, but instead to other issues.

Why is the basement floor drain backing up? There are several reasons. The backing up of a washtub basin, or washing machine, tree roots, pipe has deteriorated, bellies in the drain line, flushing of improper objects, or basement drain and trap dry out.

Lets take a look at why you need to know how to fix a basement floor drain that is backing up, how to prevent future backups, cleaning up the mess, other areas to think about, and when to call a professional.

Reason : Drain And Trap Dry Out

If you dont have water flowing through the drain or trap, they can dry out and cause sewer gases to escape. This doesnt only happen in the basement drain, but also in sinks and drains in the bathroom or kitchen. You might have a shower in the bathroom in the basement that smells and it can be due to a P-trap that is dirty or missing to name a few.

How to fix it: Add water to the drain and the trap and this should help. If the trap is missing, you will need to have one added. A professional can help figure out the issue.

Great video that explains why the basement drain backs up:

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Basement Floor Drain Backing Up Winter

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Problems With The Sewer

Basement Waterproofing

Sewer water can also cause backups because of blocks in the system. This is caused by buildup and natural interference. Whether it be from grease and debris, tree roots, breaks in pipes, and saturated ground, these all add to the problem.

Typically, water coming up through the basement floor drain is indicative of a clog in the drain line. If there happens to be a clog in the main building drain and water is running down from an upper fixture, the water will come out of the lowest fixture. This is often the basement floor drain.

If your basement didnt have a floor drain, the water would still back up out of the lowest fixture of the house. In most cases, it would be the bathtub, shower, sink, or standpipe.

Flooding in the basement as a result of backed-up sewer lines represents a major problem for homeowners. There is the possibility that fecal matter is flooding into your basement, which can cause a real health hazard. This becomes a major cleanup project and if this is happening, it is best to get the city involved.

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How To Prevent Future Backups

  • Maintain the basement drain as well as other drains in the home. This can be done by scheduling drain cleaning maintenance with a professional.
  • Drano can be harsh on the pipes so anytime you have a clog, you can do the following, which is safe.
    • Use ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of distilled white vinegar.
    • Pour these in the drain.
    • Put a stopper over the concoction and keep it there for 30 minutes while a foam forms.
    • Once 30 minutes is up, take the stopper out and use a plunger.
    • Create a seal with the plunger and move it up and down several times to try to get the clog out.
    • Then, run warm water in the drain for a couple of minutes.
    • Repeat the steps of the plunger and the water if the clog remains.

    Can This Program Help You

    Tuesday, August 13, 2019

    If youve experienced a backup, you know it can be a shocking ordeal: water suddenly gushing from a floor drain, toilet, or other basement plumbing.

    Unlike the many other causes of basement flooding, backups are the result of heavy rain causing local sewers to become so overwhelmed that water has nowhere to go but through your homes basement or ground-level plumbing.

    Areas Most Hit By Basement Backups:

    • Backups occur in areas served by the Citys older combined sewer system, which carries both runoff from storms and wastewater from homes.
    • Low-lying areas of Germantown, Kensington, Northern Liberties, Center City, South Philadelphia, and Port Richmond are the most impacted.
    • Check this map to see if you live in the combined sewer area.

    The good news: Philadelphia residents may qualify for the Philadelphia Water Department Basement Backup Protection Program , which provides free installation of plumbing devices called backwater valves that can reduce backups. Some properties may also get downspout modifications at no cost.

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    Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Sewer And Drain Backup

    Unfortunately, sewer backups are never covered under most homeowners insurance. However, many insurance companies offer sewer backup endorsements that can cover $10,000 worth of damage, which is enough for moderate damage but not extensive damage to the structure of the home.

    This is significant, given that municipalities generally arent liable for any sewage backups caused by blockages in the sewer lines unless they are grossly negligent in maintaining the lines.

    While city sewer backups that cause catastrophic damage to peoples homes are rare, they do happen, so its important to consider outfitting your home with a valve that prevents sewage backups from occurring.

    Your Drain Is Clogged

    Basement Drain Backing Up & How to Fix it!

    While this may seem like an overly simple explanation, you would be amazed at how many leaks and floods can be prevented by simply ensuring your drains are draining properly . Clogged drains can cause water to back up in your pipes, and ultimately overflow into your basement. These clogs can occur in your homes sewer lines, as well as the municipal sewer lines outside your home.

    While you cant do much to address clogs in the municipal line, take measures to ensure that the lines in your home are flowing freely. If your drains are free of clogs and draining properly, it will help to eliminate the chances of water backing up into your basement.

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    Groundwater Issues And Drain System Location

    If you discover no surface water problems, the subsurface groundwater could be under hydrostatic pressure. This causes water to push up through tiny cracks in the basement floor.

    Another possibility is if your drain system connects directly to the city storm sewer system. This is especially the case if you have an older home with a basement below street level. Storm water can back up in the city sewer system and fill the perimeter foundation drain system.

    This saturates the ground around the basement with water under hydrostatic pressure, which pushes it into the basement through hairline cracks. If you find this is the case, consult with a professional to install a perimeter drain system that can relieve hydrostatic pressure.

    What If There Is A Sewer Smell When Basement Drain Backs Up

    If there is a sewer smell when your basement drain backs up, it could mean that the standpipe is dry. The standpipe is an elbow-shaped pipe that works like a P-trap for washing machines. When the drain and adjacent trap dry out, sewer odors can come out. Traps keep sewer gases and odor from seeping out because there is constantly water there as a barrier.

    However, if the standpipe was recently dried out, sewer odors will come up and out of the basement floor drain. Sometimes, the water from the washing machine may be enough to replace the water in the trap. If not, all that you need to do is pour water into the drain, and the trap will be filled.

    Most of the time, the water backing up from the washing machine will at the very least eliminate the sewer odor. The overflow will fill the trap, although youll need to use one of the above remedies to remove the clog and backup.

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    Can Sewage Backup Make You Sick

    Sewage water is nothing to mess around with, and should be taken seriously. If you find a sewage backup in your basement, its crucial to deal with it in a timely fashion.

    The pungent odor of sewage can actually make you sick. There are toxic gases in sewage that can cause anything from skin irritation to organ damage and death.

    But if you take the proper safety precautions by wearing the right gear and work on solving the problem immediately, your risk of illness is much lower.

    Home Improvement Ideas To Help Prevent Water Damage

    Basement Waterproofing

    Whether it’s a plumbing leak, roof leak or a basement filled with water, water damage can require a costly fix. Here are a few home improvements to make water damage less likely:

    • Add or update drainage. Use gutters and downspouts to make sure water is diverted away from your home and its foundation.
    • The easiest solutions to overflowing gutters are to either add another downspout on that run of gutter or to increase the size of the downspout. The best solution between these two is probably adding another downspout the second downspout can act as a backup if the first one gets blocked.
    • If you choose to replace the existing downspout with a larger one, make sure the contractor increases the size of the corresponding hole in the gutter.
  • Install a sump pump. Try this addition if water damage has been a serious problem in your home’s lower level. Choose a cast iron sump pump, which may last longer, and consider buying a backup battery-powered pump in case the power goes out. Test your pump twice a year or as suggested by the manufacturer.
  • Replace your pipes. Much home piping has a lifespan of 50 to 80 years, so if you have an older house, ask a plumber to check its condition. PVC pipes may need to be replaced every 25 to 40 years.
  • Install a water leak detection system. An automatic water shut-off valve is a water leak detection system that will shut off the water supply to the home when it detects water on the floor or an irregular flow in the pipe.
  • Start a Quote

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    Install A Sewer Backflow Valve

    The best way to prevent a basement drain from backing up is to install a reverse valve that prevents water from coming back through the drain. This simple device consists of a floating ball. When water is flowing through the drain, the ball stays out of the way.

    Should a backflow occur, the ball floats into the drain hole, blocking the line and prevent sewage from passing through the drain and onto the basement floor. Keep in mind that a ball check valve can catch dirt and debris, making a drain easier to clog. If you install one, make sure to clean the drain regularly.

    Contact A Professional Or Your Landlord In Case Of A Large Backup

    If your home is served by a private sewage system, we highly recommend that you contact a licensed professional immediately whos better equipped at investigating the problem.

    If you dont own the property and are a tenant, contact your landlord after youve taken the above steps in order to keep them in the loop!

    When it comes to finances, make sure to call your insurance as soon as possible to get an understanding of whether or not a sewer backup coverage is included in your policy this will help keep down the costly fix.

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    Why Is My Basement Drain Backing Up

    Date posted: February 28, 2020 ,Author: Peak Sewer ,Categories: Blog , Drainage

    Figuring out why your basement draining is backing up takes a lot of guesswork since the root causes are usually located in the deep dark recesses of your drain lines. Simple do-it-yourself cleaning and repairs may alleviate minor issues but more serious problems need proper inspection and repair.

    The following are common causes of basement drain back ups. While some issues may involve an easy fix, others require more specialized tools and expertise to correctly diagnose and repair the issue.

    Frozen Septic Tank Components

    How Basement Walkout Drains Work to Avoid Flooding

    When septic tanks are not protected by adequate soil coverage, pipes or even the tank itself can become frozen. When fluid or wastes inside the tank freeze, it can hamper drainage, expand and break components, or cause sewage backups into your home. Here are a few ways to avoid and resolve the problem.

    Prevent Problems

    • Check for soil erosion. Before the first hard freeze of the year, check the area around your septic tank for soil erosion. Fill in any area that needs more coverage. Avoid compressing soil.
    • Insulate the tank with straw. Straw is a great natural insulator. Add a layer of straw to the ground above your septic tank and lines.
    • Pump your tank before winter. On years when septic pumping is necessary, have it pumped before winter.
    • Reduce the strain on your system. Take steps to conserve water so you dont overburden your septic system. Take shorter showers and use your garbage disposal less.
    • Dont drive or park over your septic field. Avoid parking or driving over your septic field to avoid compacting the soil. Compaction makes soil freeze faster.
    • Aerate the soil above septic fields. Prevent compaction by having the soil over the drainage field aerated regularly.

    Find and Repair Issues

  • Locate your septic tank and open the access cover.
  • Use a hose and connect to a water supply. Attach a brass nozzle and a backflow preventer to prevent water contamination.
  • Look for the T-shaped outlet that comes out from the tank and connects to your homes main drain line.
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    What Is Meant By Water Backing Up In The Basement Drain

    Water backing up in the basement drain is nearly by no means a result of a blockage inside the basement ground drain itself. In each home, the basement ground drain attaches to the leading line. Thus, it is a leading sewer line blockage that nearly every time results in the ground drain to lower back up.

    Sink rootstock, damaged pipes, inappropriate flushing of articles, etc. resulting in the blockage.

    What To Do If Your Drain Is Backing Up

    As mentioned above, if your drain is backing up, it is crucial you act quickly. Not only will you need to address the rising water, but youll need to take steps to protect your property and to prevent further damage.

    Below is a checklist of steps to take if you notice that there is a backup in your drain:

    Get everyone safe

    Although a backed-up drain may not seem like a dangerous situation, if you have small children, any standing water at all can be dangerous. Similarly, if you have electrical appliances that are in the water, it can become a hazardous situation very quickly.

    Protect your property

    You should remove all property from the water, as well as anything valuable that is within the waters path.

    Stop the drains

    Use a stopper or a plug to close the drains and prevent further water leaking in. You should aim to do this all the drains on the lowest level of your home even ones that are not yet leaking.


    Add a small amount of chlorine or bleach to any standing water to help to sanitize it. This will kill any harmful bacteria be aware, though, it may take the color out of any carpet. This is, however, preferable, to contaminating your carpet with biohazards.

    Stop using your drains

    Before the problem is addressed, dont use your sinks, baths, showers, or toilets. You want to avoid adding any more water to the drains.

    Speak with your neighbors

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    What If It’s A City Sewer Main Problem

    If you live in an established community rather than in a rural area, your home’s sewer drain connects to the city sewer main under the street. If your house main drain is backed up, chances are the clog is in your own sewer drain line, but it’s possible the city sewer main has a major blockage. Either way, your home’s drains will behave the same way, although sometimes city backups have enough pressure to actually force raw sewage into home drains, flooding bathrooms.

    The best way to tell whether the problem belongs to you or the city is to check with your close neighbors. If they also have problems, there is a good chance the problem lies with the city sewer main. If city utility workers come out to investigate, they are allowed to repair only problems with the main sewer line they can’t handle problems with your individual main sewer drain pipe. Be aware, though, that you and your neighbors may be assessed and billed to pay for repairs to a sewer main problem confined to your neighborhood.


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