Basement Floor Drain Flooding—What To Do?

Waking up to a flooded basement can be a frustrating experience. This dissatisfying event can even be more aggravating than usual if the basement drain backs up. Now, the space smells like foul sewer water, leaving you wondering why this incident happened. Also, what can you do about it? We researched for you and here’s what we found.

A basement floor drain flooding usually happens because of a clog. Removing the blockage can be a DIY-friendly job, and you have two options for this operation: (1) a drain snake or (2) a baking soda and white vinegar mixture.

The steps to using a drain snake to unclog a basement floor drain are:

  1. Remove the drain cover.
  2. Feed the drain snake into the hole and operate its mechanism.
  3. Continue the operation until you feel the snake loosening, verifying the removal of the blockage.

As for using the baking soda and white vinegar mixture, the steps are:

  1. Pour boiling water into the drain.
  2. Pour baking soda, then dispense the white vinegar into the hole.

Unclogging a basement floor drain may seem like a reasonably straightforward task. However, other problems may arise if you miss a few important details. Continue reading as we talk about the correct ways to eliminate basement floor drain floods in greater detail.

Long rectangular shower drain with stainless grid on basement floor with ceramic tiles. Basement Floor Drain Flooding—What To Do

Why Is Your Basement Drain Backing Up?

Drains backing up is one of the major reasons for basement floods. Furthermore, backed-up drains generally come from clogs, and these blockages can originate from different sources. Some of the reasons for basement drain clogs are:

Water drain vent in kitchen, bathroom or basement ceramic tiled old vintage floor. Geometric abstract beige background.

Plant Roots

The roots of trees, bushes, shrubs, flowers, and other plants can enter the sewer line, causing drain clogs. Some florae have roots with sufficient penetrative force that allows them to seemingly drill their way into the plumbing.

Line Dent

Also called a sewer line belly, this issue can appear when the ground settles. The pushing force of the setting soil causes the pipes to deform, which can lead to a blockage in the drain. A long-term solution for this issue is to replace the pipe with the belly.

Improper flushing

Flushing the wrong items down the drain can eventually lead to clogs. Some of the things that you shouldn’t flush down the sink or toilet are:

  • Wet tissues or wipes
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Tampons and sanitary pads
  • Dental floss
  • Hair clumps

Additionally, flushing down a significant amount of toilet paper at any time can also increase the risks of drain clogs. You can use flushable wipes that disintegrate when they come in contact with a significant amount of water, preventing plumbing blockage.

Check out this toilet paper and washable wipes bundle pack on Amazon.

Greasy Food

Generally, you shouldn’t flush any food items down the drain. In particular, throwing greasy and oily foods down sinks and toilets can cause gunk buildup. The thick liquids can solidify and attach to the pipes’ interior lining.

You can also read our guide about fixing water leaking into the basement after heavy rain if you also encounter this problem.

Plumber on his knees in residential home basement and pushing a plunger drain into drain to unclog it

How Do You Snake A Basement Floor Drain?

Before proceeding with this task, make sure you’re wearing protective gear, such as a pair of safety goggles and a respirator. Wearing these items can help protect you from the fumes that might be coming out of the basement drain.

In particular, make sure that you’re wearing gloves, pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. The water in the drain isn’t clean and can cause irritation or infection to bare skin if you’re not careful.

Once you're wearing those pieces of safety equipment, you can proceed with the rest of the operation:

What You’ll Need

  • Powered snake drain
  • Screwdriver
  • Mop

Check out this powered drain cleaner on Amazon.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Unscrew the drain cover and set it aside.
  2. Feed the snake into the drain manually. You can stop feeding the cord into the hole if you feel heavy resistance.
  3. Turn on the powered snake drain for a few minutes.
  4. If you feel that the snake drain is loosening, feed more of the cord into the hole to help loosen and eliminate gunk buildup.
  5. Use water fixtures in your home, such as the faucet or toilet, to check if the clog persists.
  6. Stop when water no longer backs up from the basement drain.
  7. Clean the area with a mop to help remove the excess moisture.

Be cautious not to grab and grip the drain snake while it’s working. The friction caused by the rotation might cut or rip your gloves and cause wounds.

Watch the video below to see the steps mentioned above in action:

Moreover, make sure to remove as much moisture as you can from the task. Basements usually make it difficult for moisture to dry because of the fairly damp environment.

You might invest in a dehumidifier to help remove this excess moisture. Read our post on the right dehumidifier size for a basement for more information.

Removal of blockage in floor drain, the hand of a man with a bottle of a special remedy with drain cleaner

How Do You Unclog A Basement Floor Without A Snake?

Take note that the items used in this section may only solve mild to medium cases of blockages. Heavy clogs may need additional equipment or professional assistance. Still, you may attempt to continue with this process to help dissolve or release some of the clogs in the basement drain.

Again, ensure that you’re wearing safety gear before proceeding with this project. Once done, you can continue with following this guide:

What You’ll Need

  • Boiling water
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Pour the boiling water into the drain. Don’t use cold water since it won’t break gunk and grease as efficiently as hot water.
  2. Dispense baking soda into the drain liberally.
  3. Pour the white vinegar into the drain slowly. Take note that mixing baking soda with vinegar will cause a messy reaction.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 twice or as many times as needed.
  5. Pour more boiling water into the drain.

You may stop if the boiling water goes down the drain smoothly. If the problem persists, you may think about doing extra troubleshooting or calling professional help. Also, don’t forget to clean up the mess the mixture made with a broom or mop.

The reason why this solution can work in unclogging some drains is that vinegar is an acid while baking soda is a base. Combining these ingredients results in a carbon dioxide and water concoction that creates bubbles to help release the clog.

Watch the video below to see how this baking soda and white vinegar solution can help unclog basement drains:

Will A Basement Drain Unclog Itself?

Some members of the plumbing community state that basement drains might unclog by themselves if the head pressure is fairly strong. However, the process doesn’t guarantee immediate results and may require a significant amount of water before the clog disappears.

How Much Does It Cost To Unclog A Basement Drain?

Professional services to unclog a basement drain may cost anywhere from $75 to $550. The overhead may increase if plumbers see additional areas of concern, such as parts that need replacements. If so, expect to pay $45 to $150 for the service and the replacement parts.

White square tiles with drain. Basement Floor Drain Flooding—What To Do

Final Words

Eliminating and preventing a basement floor drain flood is possible with a drain snake. Pouring baking soda and white vinegar into the basement’s plumbing can also be a viable solution. But you may need to consult professional help if these DIY solutions don’t work as intended.

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