6 Steps To Take When Your Basement Drain Clogs And How To Prevent Future Issues
Unfortunately, basement drain clogs are extremely common. Most of your plumbing runs through the basement, making basement floor drains the prime location for a clog. If these clogs are not cleared, they can cause your basement floor drains to back up and even cause a basement flood. Our clogged basement floor drain guide will help you clean up after a backed up floor drain and prevent basement floor drain clogs in the future.
6 Steps to Clean Up a Flood Caused By a Basement Drain Clog
1. Turn Off Your Water to Prevent More Basement Flooding
If your basement drain is clogged, avoid running the water. Trying to send more water down that clogged drain pipe will only make basement flooding worse. Depending on the exact cause of the basement flood, you may need to turn off the water to a few fixtures or even your entire home.
Also, make sure that everyone is aware of the problem. This way, they don’t accidentally make the situation worse by pouring something down a drain.
Water and electricity are an extremely dangerous combination. If the water from a basement drain clog backup is within 2 inches of electrical outlets, avoid entering the area until the electricity is turned off.
If the water is over outlets, avoid the area altogether. Contact the electric utility company if you cannot safely shut off the power without entering the water.
2. Clean Water From A Clogged Basement Floor Drain
Next, clean up flood waters from basement drain clogs. For pools of water less than a few inches, use towels, sheets, or a mop to soak up the water. Wring them out outside and away from your home to prevent additional basement flooding.
If there are more than a few inches, use a wet/dry vacuum or a pump to remove the water. Again, avoid sending the water down that drain.
If the water from a basement floor drain backing up may contain sewage, so you should disinfect the area to kill mold, bacteria, and parasites. A solution of bleach and water will work, but a hospital grade disinfectant is more effective.
3. Dry the Area to Prevent Mold Problems
Once the water is removed, dry the area to prevent issues with mold. Mold will grow in as little as 48 hours after a basement drain back up. If the water contained sewage, mold may grow even sooner.
Use fans and dehumidifiers to dry the area. Regular consumer equipment will work, but you should consider renting commercial gear from an equipment rental company. This will speed up the drying process and decrease the damage.
Regardless of whether the basement floor drain backup contained sewage, you should still disinfect the area to prevent again mold. As with the cleaning process above, bleach will work but hospital grade disinfectants provide better protection.
4. Determine Why Your Basement Floor Drain Is Backing Up
During extremely severe rainstorms, the municipal sewers can back up through open floors drains in the basement. Hair, soap, grease, coffee grounds, and other solid items can also clog sewer lines, leading to a floor drain backup. It should be relatively easy to identify whether your basement drain back up was caused by internal or external forces.
If the drain overflowed due to groundwater or sewage from outside your home, you have options. There are several ways to prevent future groundwater and sewage backups. Although risky, you can also choose to take no action. However, if an internal issue like a basement drain clog caused the backup, you will need to make repairs to prevent future basement floods.
5. Clear Clogs From Basement Drain Cleanouts and Traps
If you have open floor drains in your basement, use a wet/dry vacuum to suck as much out of them as possible. They are likely to contain grey water from your drains and even sewage from your toilets. Once they are empty, inspect the drain and trap for a clog. Wear rubber gloves and a face shield that covers your eyes, nose, and mouth as protection against mold, bacteria, and parasites in the water.
Clear the Basement Drain Cleanout
In some cases, you may need to open the basement drain cleanouts as well. These are typically 4 inch flat covers with a recessed square notch. Special tools that open these cleanout covers are available, but you can use a chisel and hammer to knock it open as well. Wedge the chisel into one corner of the notch and hammer it counterclockwise to loosen the seal.
Be aware that water and sewage may back up out of the drain as you open it. Take precautions to prevent further flooding and to protect yourself. Wear pants, long sleeves, rubber gloves, and a face shield that covers your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Clear the Basement Drain Trap
Both open floor drains and closed drain cleanouts are likely to have traps that prevent sewage gases from coming up out of the sewer pipes. These traps are usually shaped like the letter P or U. To clean out a clogged basement floor drain trap, use either your hand or a wet/dry vacuum to suck out solid material that is blocking the pipe.
Auger or Snake the Basement Floor Drain
While you may think a commercial drain cleaning chemical down the pipe will clear tough basement drain clogs, they are more dangerous and less effective than you think. While they may dissolve the clog, they are also dissolving your plumbing. A better alternative is to use a drain auger or drain snake to remove the clog.
While augers and snakes are different, they basically work the same. A flexible cable is unwound into the pipe to break up or snag solid materials that clog drain pipes. You then wind the cable back up to pull the clog out of the drain pipe.
Drain snakes and augers come in both manual and powered models and are available at your local hardware store or tool supply company. You can also rent commercial grade drain snakes and augers from your local equipment rental supply.
6. Rebuild Flood Damaged Materials
Once you have unclogged your basement floor drains, run a small amount of water to ensure they flow smoothly. If they do not back up, allow water to flow for a few minutes to make sure the problem is completely resolved. Only then should start to rebuild a flooded basement. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may need to replace carpeting, hang new drywall, or replace cabinets, furniture, and appliances.
How to Prevent Future Basement Drain Clogs
The best way to prevent future basement drain clogs is to watch what you send down your pipes. There are several things you can do inside and outside of your home to stop clogs in floor drains and sewer pipes.
Prevent Basement Floor Drain Clogs Inside Your Home
Clean your drains regularly with a vinegar and baking soda rinse. Pour half a cup of baking soda into the drain, then add half a cup of vinegar. Allow this to bubble and dissolve for at least half an hour up to overnight. Then rinse with several quarts of boiling water.
Hair is one of the biggest causes of drain clogs, so install a hair catcher to prevent a clogged shower drain. Clean hair catchers regularly and replace them if they get too grimy. This will also keep other solid items like shampoo caps, bars of soap, and razor blades out of your bathtub drains.
Avoid pouring coffee grounds, grease, starchy or fibrous foods, and other large solids down your kitchen sink. Even if you have a garbage disposal, these items can clog your kitchen sink drain. Keep a jar in the fridge for oil and grease and spread coffee grounds around in your garden or flower beds.
If you have one, avoid connecting your sump pump to sanitary sewers. This can overwhelm municipal wastewater systems and lead to a sewage backup during severe rainstorms. Also, perform regular sump pump maintenance to ensure it works correctly when you need it.
Outside Ways to Prevent a Clogged Basement Floor Drain
Clean your gutters and downspouts regularly to prevent excess water from pooling around your foundation. Instead of connecting them to your sump pump or municipal sanitary sewer lines, use downspout extensions to channel water at least 6 feet away from your foundation.
Also, look at the landscaping around your foundation to ensure water isn’t pooling there. If necessary, add additional soil so that it slopes away from your home. Keep small plants at least 6 inches from your foundation, with bushes and shrubs 2 feet away and trees no closer than 3 feet.
If your basement flooding was caused by a backup from the municipal sewers, you may consider having a backflow valve or a backwater valve installed. This prevents water from flowing backward in your sewer pipe and will prevent a sewage backup in your basement.
In rare cases, you may need to have your main sewer line repaired or replaced. Over time, the materials can deteriorate and soil can cause a clog. Roots from trees and other plants can also crack your sewer line and even grow inside.
If you think your basement drain backup was caused by a problem with the municipal sewer system, you should report the issue to the city immediately. Most municipalities will take action within a few days of the report. This can help prevent future issues, saving you time and money.
Restoration Services After Floods from Basement Floor Drain Backup
If you have flood damage from basement drain clogs or a drain backup, Restoration Local can connect you with a local restoration company to extract the water and repair the issue. As the #1 network of restoration companies in the country, we have water damage restoration companies near you. Find a local water damage repair company now or call 1-888-443-3110 to speak with our on-call emergency contractor. Our emergency contractors offer 24-hour services, 30-minute response time, and free estimates on all water removal service.