How To Unclog A Basement Drain

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Like any other drain in the home, your basement drain can get clogged up, sometimes causing a small flood. So, what do you do in such a situation? We did the research to help you identify the causes of this problem and how to solve it.

Ways to unclog a basement drain include:

  • Using a plumbing auger or snake
  • Cleaning the drain

A flooded basement due to clogging is not only a nuisance but can also cause damage to the floor, your furniture, and your walls. It can also cause the growth of mold. Continue reading to learn how to properly unclog your drain and maintain it as well as the costs associated with repairs. Without further ado, let's get into it.

sewer grate drain water in basement. How To Unclog A Basement Drain

Unclogging Your Basement Drain

Unclogging your drain is not that difficult. If you are up to the task, any of the methods mentioned here will work, so you won't have to hire a professional plumber.

One method requires the use of a plumbing auger or snake. Alternative methods include cleaning your basement drain, using chemical drain cleaners, and natural remedies.

Using A Plumbing Auger Or Drain Snake

This method requires the use of a plumber’s auger or drain snake.

Tools Needed

  • Plumbing auger or drain snake
  • Pipe wrench
  • Cold chisel
  • Screw driver
  • Hammer
  • Dry/wet vacuum
  • Teflon tape
  • Bucket

Check out this brushless drain snake on Amazon.

Click here to see this drain auger on Amazon.

Steps To Unclog Your Basement Drain

  1. Take your screwdriver and unscrew the cover that is on your drain. In some situations, if the tiles or concrete floor is covering it, you may have to chisel the floor to reach the screws.
  2. Look into the drain and check inside the hole to see if there is any visible clog. This hole connects to the P-trap which is full of water. It is what stops the emission of gases into the basement from the sewer.
  3. With the wet vacuum, suck the dirt out from the trap. Do this by placing the vacuum hose in the center of the hole. It is from this hole that water flows from the drain and into the P-trap. Try to suck out as much gunk as you can.
  4. Check on the side of the drain hole, and you will see a clean-out plug. Some homes have a separate clean-out cover or plug that is 6 to 12 inches away. Take this out, but if it is difficult to do so, use your pipe wrench, chisel, or hammer to remove it.
  5. Bring out the plumber’s auger or drain snake and insert it, pushing the tip into the clean-out pipe. When you feel like you have encountered a clog, tug it out lightly. But if during the process you feel the blockage is something hard, then it's probably the curved part of the pipe, so continue feeding the auger cable inside. The clogs should attach themselves to the auger.
  6. Continue inserting your plumber’s auger and pull out the clogs until there is no more obstruction.
  7. Wrap the threads with Teflon tape and then place the clean-out plug back.
  8. Finally, fill the bucket with water and pour it into the drain. If you have successfully unclogged it, then the water should drain down without any problem.

basement drain on a tiled floor

Cleaning The Drain

If you do not have a plumbing auger, then no need to fret. The alternative methods that you can use to successfully unclog your basement drain include cleaning the drain using a wet or dry vacuum, chemical drain cleaners, and natural remedies.

With Vacuum Cleaner

  1. Turn on the back-flow preventer, and proceed to remove the cap in the trap. Drive your chisel against one of the notches found in the retaining ring and rotate your chisel counterclockwise to unlock the back-flow ball.
  2. Remove all the substances you find in the trap using a wet or dry vacuum.
  3. With a pipe wrench, unscrew to remove the plug to reach the back-flow preventer’s clean-out pipe and clean this part out.
  4. Take a wire or cable, chuck it in a drill and push it into the opening and remove as much gunk as you possibly can.

With Chemical Drain Cleaners

It is highly recommended that this method be used as a last resort and with caution. This is because most of these chemicals are either combustible or can be harmful to you, your drainage system, and your home.

It is true—they are highly effective, but this method should not be used often. The most common chemicals found in the drain cleaners are sodium hydroxide or lye or potassium hydroxide.

They are available in liquid form, pellets, or dry powder, and they work by dissolving food particles, organic waste, hair, and other substances found in the drains.

For your safety, this method requires that you wear protective gear, and follow the correct procedure.

With Natural Remedies

If you do not have a plumbing auger and do not want to use the chemical drain cleaners, then you will love the natural remedies. They work wonders but will not unclog particularly stubborn clogs that are difficult to pull out.

The remedies commonly used include a mixture of baking soda and vinegar.

A Person Putting The Baking Soda With Spoon On Drain

Can You Put Drano Down A Basement Drain?

So, your drainage has blocked and you have tried to clean it using the plumbing auger, or a natural remedy, but to no avail. Next, you grab Drano. But is this the best option? It is advisable not to use it without a professional expert for the following reasons:

  • Risk to your health - Because Drano dissolves almost any organic matter, it can cause devastating damage to your eyes or skin if you come into contact with it. Your lungs could also get damaged if you inhale the fumes. It also takes about 24 hours for the conditions in your drain to get back to normal.

  • Damage to your drainage system - Drano is highly corrosive in nature and can cause extensive damage to the drainage pipes, leaving you with costly repairs.

  • Harmful if combined with other unclogging equipment or substances - Using Drano with other equipment such as the plumbing auger can cause harm. You can accidentally splash the liquid on yourself as you pull it out, and it might cause harm to your eyes, skin, lungs, or any other part your body that comes into contact with it.

  • Not good for the environment - Even if you manage to remove the clogs using Drano, it will have to end up somewhere. It can end up mixing with the water supply, causing harm to plants and animals that might consume it.

Where Do Basement Floor Drains Go?

Have you been wondering where your drainage ends? Well, it connects to the sewage system to drain away the dirty water from your home without causing any problems.

If your basement is lower than the sewer line, then it may be a good idea to connect the basement floor drain to the sewer with an ejection pump.

How Do I Maintain My Basement Floor Drain?

To maintain your basement floor drain, you need to take immediate action when you notice symptoms that show that your drain is not working properly.

If urgent action is not taken, serious problems can arise such as damage to your furniture and basement as a whole, mold growth, and emission of unpleasant odors.

Watch out for these signs that your drain needs to be fixed or repaired:

  • Pooling - When you see a pool of water around your drain floor.
  • Odor - Unpleasant odors coming from the drain.
  • Grime - When you notice grime building up inside your drain.

How Much Does It Cost To Unclog A Basement Drain?

For clogs that are not severe, plumbers normally charge a flat rate for their services, which is between $85 and $530. It is also good to note that cleaning a drain will cost around $215.

However, if their services go beyond simple drain cleaning such as snaking a drain, then their rate could switch from hourly to labor plus extra costs for the parts to be replaced.

Sometimes, if a clog is severe, it may require the replacement of a drain line which could cost as much as $3,000.

concrete garage floor's drain. This is a typical installation in a new home. How To Unclog A Basement Drain

In Closing

The drain in your basement floor is very important, as water flows from it and away into the sewer. When it is not working properly, several problems such as flooding, damage to your furniture, growth of mold, and unpleasant odors can occur.

Knowing how to repair a clogged drain will help you clear up the problem. There are various ways to do this, the most common of which is using a plumbing auger or drain snake to unclog the drain.

Another method is the chemical drain cleaners, which can be harmful to you, the drainage system, and your home. It is advisable to seek help from a professional when using these chemicals.

Natural remedies can also be used but are not highly effective on stubborn clogs.

Check out these other posts and learn more on how to troubleshoot and maintain your basement in case of leaks and heavy rains:

Can You Fix Leaky Basement From Inside?

Water Leaking Into Basement After Heavy Rain - What To Do?

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