6 Steps To Take When Your Basement Drain Clogs And How To Prevent Future Issues
Water Damage

6 Steps To Take When Your Basement Drain Clogs And How To Prevent Future Issues

Your basement is flooding. Your basement floor drain is backing up. The water could destroy carpeting, it could damage boxes of precious family keepsakes, it could ruin any furniture down there, and ultimately, it could lead to the growth of mildew and mold.

So it’s pretty clear: You have to clear the reason for the backup and get rid of the water. What do you do? One option is to give us a call at Restoration Local at 1-888-443-3110. We’ll come to your home, take a look at the problem and give you a FREE, no-obligation estimate on water damage and mold removal. We’re happy to work with your insurance company, and we’re at your call 24/7.

To get you started, follow these 7 steps to deal with your basement drain backing up.


1. Determine the Reason for the Backup

The reason you have water backing up in your basement drain affects what your next steps are, so take a look. Do you have surface water coming into your basement and heading for the basement drain? Is storm runoff from the local storm sewer system backing into your home? Or is there a clog in your home’s sewer line?

You can tell instantly whether you’re dealing with dirty sewage or (relatively) clean water. If it appears that you’re facing a blockage in your own sewer line, you can start immediately to try to clear the clog. If you’re facing extreme flooding, you need to take a few emergency steps first.

2. Deal With Emergency Issues

If water is still flowing into your basement from the drain, your first step is to turn off the water if you can, or call your city and tell them about the problem.

If the water has pooled, you can deal with the blockage, but be careful before you step into any pooled water. Is the water high enough to be touching anything electrical? If so, don’t touch the water. Shut off your electricity, and call an electrician. Wear rubber boots when you step into the water, and don’t touch anything electrical.

3. Clear the Drain and Trap

Start clearing the drain and the trap by removing the backflow preventer, if you have one. This device is supposed to keep water from backing up into your basement, but if the pressure is too late, it may not have worked. To remove it, access the retaining ring, and turn it counterclockwise. You can use a chisel wedged into one of the notches in the ring to get this started.

You’ll probably find all sorts of dirt, sand and other unpleasant material right inside the trap. Use a wet/dry vacuum to remove as much as you can, and clear out the material you can reach with paper towels. Especially if you’re dealing with wastewater backup, you definitely want to wear rubber gloves for this task, and a mask isn’t a bad idea either.

Because the trap is designed to be hard to reach, you can either snake it out or even use an uncoiled wire coat hanger to remove any materials caught in the trap.

Next, unscrew the cleanout plug, which you’ll find to the side of the drain. Use pliers, a pipe wrench or even a chisel to loosen it. Now you’re ready to start the real cleaning-out of your clogged drain in the basement backing up.

4. Snake the Pipe

You can start the process of clearing the drain by pouring a commercial drain cleaning chemical down the pipe, but if there was enough water backing up to cause problems in your basement, chances are this measure won’t even begin to solve the problem.

It’s now time to pull out your plumber’s snake. This is a spiral cable that you insert slowly into the pipe via the cleanout plug. You may run into the obstruction as you insert the snake; if so, see what you can do to dislodge it and get water flowing again. Once you’ve inserted the snake to its full length, twist it so that it rubs against the inside of the pipe. This may help to break any obstruction free.

In most cases, your basement drain should start working properly after you snake the line. If it doesn’t, you need to move on to the next step.

5. Auger the Pipe

If cleaning out the trap and snaking the pipe manually doesn’t solve the problem, you may be dealing with roots that have invaded your pipe down below ground level. Another reason for your basement floor drain backing up water may be a clog that’s simply too big and intransigent for a manual snake to remove.

In this case, you’ll need to rent a drain-cleaning machine or power snake to auger the pipe. These power snakes have cutting blades that can remove any roots preventing the pipe from draining. Another option, of course, is to call a professional to come and help solve the problem so you can get your basement drain working again.

Once you’ve finished clearing the clogged drain, you’ll need to clean up. Don’t forget to take photos if there’s been enough damage to contact your insurance company. Because backed up water can be dirty and carry germs, use a bleach solution to clean up.

6. How to Prevent Future Flooding Issues

If your backed-up basement drain was caused by something other than a simple clog, you shouldn’t let the matter rest. If water and debris came in from outside during a surface water flood, take steps to clear your gutters, add drain spouts that carry water away from your exterior walls, and slope landscaping and pavement down from your home.

Is there any water damage in your basement? If so, you should take a close look (and keep looking over the next few weeks) for any potential mold and mildew. If you find the beginnings of any, call a professional restoration company to take care of the problem.

In most cases, the cause of a basement floor drain backing up is a backed-up sewer line in your own home or a backup of the municipal sewer system, often because of heavy rains due to storms.

To prevent future problems, install a backflow preventer if you don’t already have one. This helps stop sewer water flowing backward. You can also help prevent future problems by maintaining your home’s sewer lines on a regular basis. Start by pouring root killer down them annually, and call in a professional to help keep them clear.

If you realize that the problem was caused by a municipal sewer system backup, you should contact your city, especially if it’s a recurring problem. Another solution in the meantime is to install a perimeter basement drain system that’s connected to a sump pump. Your local home restoration company can help you with this and other solutions.

At Restoration Local, we are ready to help you with assessment and repairs. Call us at 1-888-443-3110 to see how we can help you.

For a free water damage estimate and inspection, call us 24/7 at 1-888-443-3110.

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