Floor Drain Backups
If a floor drain in the home starts to back up or drain slowly, it can be a real headache for the homeowner. Not only that, but floor drain backups are often confusing to address and fix. Here’s some information to help sort out that baffling floor drain backup. Most often, floor drain backups require professional plumbers to come out and fix the problem.
Floor Drains: A Summary
Not all homes have a floor drain. Most often, water-draining plumbing fixtures are placed at the lowest spot in a home’s basement to prevent wastewater or other water from flooding the room. Floor drains are either round or square, and they have a grated cover to allow water to pass through to the pipe. The size of the floor drain ranges from six inches to a foot. Though the floor drain size depends on the size of the area and the risk of surface water.
Floor Drain Locations
Most often, floor drains are near water fixtures in a home’s basement. Usually, they’re next to water heaters or washing machines. Commercial buildings typically have multiple floor drains due to the larger potential volume of wastewater. Additionally, floor drains are often installed in shower rooms, commercial kitchens, swimming pools, and restrooms.
How Floor Drains Connect to the House’s Plumbing
The only time a floor drain isn’t connected to a plumbing system is when a trench drain is installed to lead rainwater to a dry well. Otherwise, floor drains connect to the overall plumbing system of the home. Often, homeowners must install sump pumps underneath the grating of the floor drain and above the sump pit to ensure that standing water is removed promptly. The piping underneath the sump pit connects the floor drain to the main house drain. Before the main house drain connects to the city’s sewer, it passes through the main house drain sump pit. Main house drain sump pits are typically two feet deep.
Why Floor Drain Backups Occur
As mentioned before, floor drain backups can be mystifying. However, there are a few common issues that can lead to a floor drain backup.
Cleaning and Maintenance Issues
Make sure to stay on top of floor drain maintenance to avoid costly issues with the house’s plumbing. The grate over the floor drain needs periodic cleaning to keep it free from hair and debris. Additionally, grease and soap can harden over time. Once grease hardens, homeowners will have a much more difficult time fixing the blockage. In these cases, it’s best to call a professional plumber so they can use a motorized drain cleaning machine to clear the drain.
Additionally, the sump pit underneath the floor drain needs clearing out at regular intervals. Sometimes the sump pit fills with debris and will cover the exit pipe. When this happens, water has no way to exit, and it will seem that the floor drain is the culprit. However, in these cases, there’s no blockage in the pipe. The sump pit needs to be cleared out.
Sump Pump Failure
If the floor drain in the home has a sump pump installed, a backup could be a result of a failing or broken sump pump. Sump pumps are pieces of mechanical equipment and may need replacing. Make sure to keep up with manufacturer-recommended maintenance or hire a professional plumber to perform the maintenance. Additionally, improperly installed sump pumps can lead to floor drain backups. Research (or ask an expert) what size sump pump is needed for the home. If the sump pump is not the proper size or power, its useful lifespan will be reduced, resulting in frequent floor drain backups.
Drainpipe failures are the least common cause for floor drain backups, but they happen. When the pipe from the floor drain to the sump pit cracks, the opening acts as a gateway for debris and dirt. If homeowners suspect that this is the cause of their home’s floor drain backup, it’s best to call a reputable plumber or sewer repair company. Do not attempt any DIY-plumbing fixes for suspected main house drain issues. This can lead to even more expensive repairs when performed by amateur or DIY plumbers.
What to Do About a Backed-Up Floor Drain
As mentioned, floor drains rarely cause their backups themselves. Since floor drains are at the lowest point in the home’s drain system, it is often the first visible site of a problem with the home’s draining system. If wastewater backs up out of the floor drain, a floor drain backup is not the typical cause. A professional plumber should address any suspected plumbing issues with the house’s main drain line.
However, there are a few non-invasive techniques that homeowners can try before the plumber arrives.
Remove the Clog
If the floor drain has a backflow preventer, try removing the filter and the backflow preventer to access the floor drain trap. If there’s a significant buildup, this could be causing the floor drain backup. Clean the clog and see if this helps the problem. If it does not, call a plumber.
Homemade Cleaning Solutions
Do not pour liquid drain cleaner down the floor drain. However, if homeowners need immediate relief to a suspected grease or soap-blocked pipe, try pouring a homemade cleaning solution down the drain. First, pour a quart of boiling water down the drain to help soften the grease and let it soak for at least fifteen minutes. Afterward, pour a box of baking soda down the drain. After that, pour white vinegar into the drain. End the process with another quart of boiling water. While this may help clear the drain, for the time being, homeowners should still contact a professional plumber to address any issues with their floor drains.
How Can We Help?
Our plumbing professionals at John’s Plumbing and Pumps have decades of combined experience in both commercial and residential plumbing. If homeowners in the Lakewood, Washington area are looking for reliable, high-quality plumbers, John’s Plumbing and Pumps is the place to call. Contact us today to set up an appointment!