Floor drains can be a lifesaver. If you break a pipe, or your house floods from an outside source, a drain in the basement floor gives the water a way out without lingering and damaging the woodwork or provoking mold growth. They also relieve pressure on your pipes by allowing small amounts of overflow. However, your floor drain can cause problems as well, and you need to address them quickly or risk serious damage to your home.

Blockages and Backup

Check out these common floor drain issues and how to fix them:

  • Nasty Odors: If your floor drain starts to stink, check the trap. If it's dry, there's nothing blocking sewer odors from backing up into your house. Unfortunately, odor isn't the only thing that can infiltrate the home – insects from the sewer can make their way in as well. Fortunately, all you have to do is pour some water down the drain to refill the trap and block smells and pests from getting in.
  • The Drain is Blocked: If the drain overflows frequently, or overflows and never drains out, that means there’s a clog or blockage in your sewer pipe. If you're lucky, it's just an accumulation of hair and debris, and you can send a plumbing snake down the floor drain to clear it out. More annoying is when a buildup of soap, grease and other waste crystallizes and creates a more solid blockage. Crystallization might be more than you can handle on your own, but plumbers have a spinning blade tool that can usually address the issue. The most troublesome blockages occur when a sewer pipe breaks and fills up with dirt, requiring an extensive repair. This isn't a DIY project -- call in a professional.
  • Leaking Sewer Pipe: Though it sounds counter-intuitive, you might have a problem if your floor drain never overflows. If you send a large amount of water down your pipes at once – say, family members are doing laundry, washing dishes and flushing the toilet all at the same time – you can expect a small amount of water to back up. Home plumbing systems are designed to work this way to prevent too much pressure on your main drain pipe. However, if you never get an overflow, it could mean that the sewer pipe is broken somewhere and your household waste water is leaking into the ground. It's a good idea to have your plumbing system inspected periodically to make sure everything is in correct working order.
  • Backflow from the Sewer: This is about the worst case scenario when it comes to floor drains. If there is heavy rain or some other problem in the system, waste from the municipal sewers could back up the line and into your basement. A backflow is both disgusting and a serious health hazard. Fortunately, you can have a backflow preventer gate installed to stop the waste water before it gets into your house.

If you are having trouble with your floor drain, or want to schedule an inspection to prevent problems before they start, call local Benjamin Franklin® today.

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