The Purpose of Basement Floor Drains Plus Maintenance & Tips

While basements are not nearly as common in Phoenix as they are in other areas of the country, many older and luxury homes do have basements, which means there will be a basement floor drain. Everybody has likely seen floor drains before, most often in public restrooms, showers, and laundry rooms. 

A basement floor drain is designed to collect overflow water from sinks, toilets, baths, and other plumbing around your home. The basement floor drain collects and then directs any excess water safely to a sewer or storm drain to avoid flooding. As with any plumbing, a floor drain will need some regular maintenance to avoid clogs.

Common Causes & Signs of Basement Floor Drain Clogs 

OK, so your basement floor drain is backing up. It’s not an uncommon occurrence. In fact, floor drains tend to become clogged more often than other drains simply because they are on the floor where dirt and debris tend to collect. 

Debris, Hair & Dirt: Debris, most commonly dust bunnies and pet hair, often finds its way inside the drain. When cleaning their floors, many people will make the mistake of sweeping the dirt and debris right into the floor drain, which will lead to more frequent clogs.

Foul Odors: If you find your floor drain is emitting horrible smells, your drain’s P-trap is probably dry. A dry P-trap allows nasty sewer gases to enter your home. Grab a bucket and begin pouring water down the drain to fill the P-trap. Dumping a gallon or two may be enough, but adding about five gallons to the trap should successfully seal off all sewer gases. Additionally, adding water to the drain will let you see if it is working properly or if it is already clogged. Pouring water down the floor drain regularly will allow you to make sure your drain will be ready when it is needed most. 

How to Clear a Basement Floor Drain Clog

If you discover your basement floor drain is clogged, it’s important to clear the blockage immediately to reduce the risks of flooding. Here’s what to do:

Try a Plunger: A minor clog should clear after a few strong pumps with a plunger. Place the plunger cup so it completely covers the drain opening, and then go for it! 

Baking Soda & Vinegar: Plunger didn’t do the trick? Try pouring baking soda down the drain, then chase it with a healthy amount of white vinegar. (Don’t worry, the drain won’t turn into a homemade volcano and create a mess.) 

Snake the Drain: If you have a drain auger, feed the cable into the drain until you meet resistance, then turn the cable and try to reel back whatever is clogging the drain. Remember, the idea is to pull gunk out, not push it further down.

If you are unable to remove the clog from the basement floor drain on your own, contact a professional and a Donley plumbing professional will come to the rescue!

Basic Basement Floor Drain Maintenance

Cleaning drains at least once a quarter will keep them healthy and working properly. If necessary, use a safe, liquid drain cleaner to remove the remaining debris. If your basement floor drains have not been cleaned in a while or you’re experiencing other drain issues, call a professional  to find out what’s blocking the drain, and have them remove any clogs for you.