The Inner Workings Of Your Basement Floor Drain
Mar 11, 2020 | Blog
It should go without saying that your basement floor drain is one of the most important parts of your homes plumbing. Without it, there would be no place for water to exit, leaving your lowest level in disarray. Knowing how your basement floor drain works, and why it is important, is essential for when an emergency strikes.
At the lowest point on your basement floor, the floor drain acts as the outlet for any unwanted water, whether its from a heavy rain, condensation from your HVAC unit, or a leaking water heater. The drain can connect to one of three things, either to the sewer system or to a sump pit. Drains connected to the sewer systemare suitable for draining a washing machine, water softener or a basement laundry sink. If you connect the drain to a sump pit, it may be against your local ordinance to drain any water with detergents, salt or chemicals.
The third connection is if your basement floor is lower than where the main sewer line leaves your home. Here, your drain will connect to a sewer pit with an ejector pump. This is not the same as a sump pit, so draining a washing machine or sink is suitable in this situation.
Newer drains come from PVC piping, particularly the catch bowl and drainpipe. They may construct older drains from cast iron, and in less common instances, they can make older drains from clay tile.
Strong Sewage Smell Coming From Your Plumbing Fixtures
This is probably one of the easiest ways to determine if you have a clog in your sewage system. If you start to get the hint of a sewage smell from any of your plumbing fixtures, then it means that theres probably a clog in your sewer line.
If you experience any of these, it means that its probably time to get your sewer line fixed. If you know fundamental fixes for your sewer line, you can try to fix it yourself. Otherwise, it may be the time to call for professional plumbers from your area.
Washing Machine And Washtub Basin Backing Up
If your washing machine caused the problem and it resulted in a lot of water, no need to panic. This is one of the easier issues to fix. You’ll need to turn the machine off and look for the strainer on the drain hose. Most usually it is the strainer that became blocked somehow.
The same thing can happen on a washtub where a strainer, or, if you don’t have one, a p-trap becomes clogged or filled with debris. You can clean it by hand, with baking soda-vinegar solution, or a plumbing snake.
The important thing to note is that if either of these is located in the basement, then it is more serious of an issue. It means that the washing machine or washtub are perfectly fine, whereas the blockage is further down in the drain system. This requires help from a professional.
There are many more things that can cause the basement sewer line to back up. But one thing remains the same always consult a professional. An experienced plumber will have adequate tools and knowledge to fix the issue in no time.
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Backup Of Storm Sewer Water From The Municipal Storm Sewer System
In many older houses with basements , there is a perimeter foundation drain outside the exterior wall, at the level of the basement floor, next to the footings. A pipe was usually installed from the perimeter foundation drain to the street where it was connected to the city storm sewer system.
This can become a problem as the city storm sewer system becomes too small when more development causes more rain runoff. When this happens, the rainwater in the sewer system can get so high that water flows backwards toward the house.
Usually, the installation of an interior perimeter basement drain system connected to a sump pump will take care of the problem. If it doesn’t, the alternative is to dig up and cap the pipe that is running from the house to the street from the perimeter foundation drain. However, this is not always possible many times, this pipe is also draining sanitary waste from toilets and sinks in the house.
If you believe you have this problem, contact an experienced contractor for advice.
How To Prevent Future Basement Floor Drain Backups
Following repair service, the best way to avoid future backups in your floor drain is with regular drain cleaning maintenance service. If your sewer lines are in good shape, routine drain cleaning service will keep your lines clear, free of the buildups that can clog and stop up your system.
While that can save you the headaches and mess of backups, it can also save you a lot of money in the long run, helping you avoid the need for repairs or emergency plumbing service.
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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.
Why It Is Important To Fix The Broken Concrete Floor To Stop Giving Way To Water
It is very important to fix the broken floor in order to stop the flow of water through it due to multiple reasons. The most important reason is that if the water would continue passing through it, it would damage your floor and furniture. Suppose, you have a beautiful wood dining table and water is coming towards it through cracked floor. As a result, not only would floor would suffer but the constant contact with water would damage the wood of table. No only this, but another important reason to fix it is that the standing water under concrete floor is the best environment for molds and fungus. If they start grow under your floor, they would make you victim of many health issues. Therefore, it is very important to fix the concrete floor if water is coming up through it.
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Unclog And Clean Main Sewage Line
If you have a main sewer line that is susceptible to clogs, then its best to clean it about once a year as a preventative measure. Invest in a manual plumber snake and run it through the line following the method described above. Running the auger through the line will help break up any build-up that is beginning to form before it has the chance to create a clog and cause backflow.
Another preventative measure is to use enzyme cleaners to keep the drain clear by dumping it directly into the drain. Enzyme cleaners help prevent build-up in the lines and are much safer for the environment than chemical cleaners.
How Is It Fixed Then
There are various ways that the plumber can fix basement sewer line backing up. But, for the most part, there are a couple of established elements of the process.
Some will opt for an HD sewer camera, which is used to search and precisely locate the blockage or a defect that causes the trouble. Then proceed with an electric plumbing snake .
Another tool that is normally used is a high-pressure water jet, which is extremely useful for clearing out any clogs and stoppages. This is normally used when dealing with the waste from your home
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Why Should Drains Contain Water
Water in the drains keeps the rodents and smells at bay since the drain connects to the central sewage system of your locality or a sewage treatment plant. A dry drain may be a vessel for “sewage gas” that may contain harmful gases such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia. These gases can cause breathing difficulties and organ damage.
However, remember that drains should only have water to a certain level. An overflowing or “gurgling” drain may cause excessive water backflow. It may cause the same issue of odor, rodents, and insects entering your house.
Why Did My Basement Floor Drain Backup
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.
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How Do You Unclog A Floor Drain Without A Snake
Start by pouring a pot of boiling hot water down the drain, followed by cup baking soda. Let that sit a few minutes, then pour a mixture of one cup of vinegar and one cup of very hot water on top of the baking soda. Let it sit for five to ten minutes, then flush it one last time with another pot of boiling water.
Overwhelmed Municipal Sanitary Sewer System
In the case where water is coming up through the floor and sink drains in the basement, this is usually due to a problem with the municipal sanitary sewer system. As more homes in a neighborhood are built, this puts more strain on the citys sewer system. This extra strain can cause it to get so high that the water starts to flow back into the homes.
As we experience heavy rainfall, this problem will only get worse. The worsening comes from the addition of new construction and more gutters directing rain towards the street.
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Why Is Water Coming Up My Floor Drain
The main reason water is coming up to your drain is a clog in the pipeline. It collects debris or any other particles that flush down the drain. Other reasons may include problems with the city sewer as the sewage waste is propelled backward or into your drains. It may be a root cause due to faulty piping and tunnel blockages.
Water Coming Up From Basement Drain After Rain
You bought an early 1900s house a few months ago and repaired everything before moving in there. But the problem with it is that water comes up from the basement drain after rain.
There are a lot of reasons behind the basement floor drain backing up when it rains. Among them, the faulty municipal sanitary sewer system is primarily responsible for this issue.
No matter what the reason behind this headache, you are the worst sufferer of it that floods your floor with sewage water, making it unable to live. In this guide, we will break down some potential reasons for a basement drain to flood and their solution. So, continue to read.
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If Water Backs Up Out Of Your Floor Drain Its Not A Floor Drain Problem
No joke. When water backs up out of a floor drain, it usually means there is a clog in the drain line, not the floor drain itself. When there is a clog in the main building drain and water is run down a drain from an upper fixture, water will back up in the drain line until it finds somewhere else to come out. Thatll be the lowest fixture. In most homes, the lowest fixture is the floor drain.
If a home doesnt have a floor drain, water will still back up out of the lowest fixture. That might be a basement shower, bathtub, standpipe, or a sink. Ive seen all of these happen, and you can too by clicking on the video compilation below.
In all of these cases, there was no problem with the fixture that was backing up. The problem exists with a drain line downstream from the fixture. The best way to clear a clogged drain is to have the drain line cleaned out professionally. If you choose to try it yourself, be warned: this is very dirty work. Once you find the clog, whatever you pull out of your drain is going to be gross. Really gross. Thats part of the reason that most people hire out this work.
For many homeowners with old homes, its standard practice to have a drain cleaning service come out to auger the drain lines every year. This helps to clear trees roots out of the drain line and is done as preventative maintenance.
Why Did My Basement Floor Drain Back Up
A lot of things can cause your basement floor drain to get clogged. A basement floor drain backup is almost certainly not caused by a clog in the basement floor drain itself. The basement floor drain in every home links to the homes mainline. Clogs in this main drain line are often caused the floor drain to back up.
If there is a clog in the main drain, any discharge that could not leave the main drain line will back up into the home. Liquid spills always take the pathway of least resistance. Since the basement floor drain is the lowest opening in the homes drainage system, it is the number one place that backs up when your main drain line is clogged. In other words, the main drain line clogs are the major source of floor drain backups.
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How To Head Off Basement Drain Backups
You cant guarantee it wont ever happen, but you can reduce the chances of a floor drain flooding the basement. Try these tips for heading off basement drain backups.
Install a backwater valve that automatically senses and reverses backflow in home sewer pipes.
Inspect the valve every three months or after a drain backup incident.
Clean the basement floor drain regularly, and routinely check to makes sure it isnt blocked.
Abuse From Improper Flushing
Generally, abuse is something like flushing more materials than your main drain line can handle. Its the most common cause of floor drain backups. Here are some tips to avoid an unexpected clog:
- Be careful about what you flush down your toilets. Toilet paper and most non-corrosive liquids are okay. But never flush paper towels, baby wipes, and feminine hygiene products. Theyre simply too thick to dissolve thoroughly and flow through your pipes.
- Make sure little ones dont play in the toilet . Theyll often dump toys and other plastic items into the toilet bowl and flush.
- Ironically, of the most common causes of floor drain and toilet drain backups, toilet paper is the number one culprit of clogged drains.
- Certain toilet papers are better than others and we strongly encourage you to choose your brand wisely. It can save you thousands of dollars down the road.
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Bellies In The Main Drain Line
A belly is a flat spot or dip in the main drain line. This can happen over time as the ground settles.
How do you fix a belly in a sewer line?
- The only way to fix a belly is to dig it up and replace it. This usually requires the use of a mini-excavator.
- Routine preventative hydro jetting will not fix the belly but can prevent unexpected clogs and basement floor drain backups. Many people choose to go this route because it is much less expensive than a full sewer replacement.
Sewage Coming Out Of Cleanout Pipe
A cleanout pipe is a capped pipe that gives you or the plumber access to the drain line for maintenance and clear clogs. These cleanouts are usually located in the basement on an exposed section of line.
While these lines typically have a removable cap on them, sewage water can breach this cap if the lines are backing up. If sewage flows out of the cleanout pipe, you likely have a sewage backup in the main line.
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Take The Proper Safety Precautions
If you have standing water in the basement, begin by taking the proper safety precautions. There are live power lines running through the entirety of a home, making standing water a significant electrical shock hazard. Begin by shutting off power to the basement at the circuit breaker box.
Since backed-up sewer water could very well contain pathogens and bacteria, protect yourself by wearing gloves, goggles, and a face mask.
Discover How Water May Be Entering Your Home And How To Fix The Problem
Timothy Dale is a home repair expert and writer with over a decade of hands-on construction and home improvement experience. He is skilled in residential, commercial, industrial and institutional plumbing, electrical, carpentry, installation, renovations, and project management.
Basement flooding is a common problem that many homeowners need to deal with before it can lead to mold and mildew growth, rot, and further water damage. There are many reasons why water may be seeping up through the basement floor and several steps that you can take to help stop the problem, or at least manage the issue until it can be permanently fixed by a professional.
Water seepage issues can do long-term damage to the foundation, break down the infrastructure of the home, and create air quality issues inside the home. To prevent these problems from growing beyond repair, it’s necessary to fix water seepage issues quickly. Learn more about why water is coming up through your basement floor and how to fix it.
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