Clogged basement floor drain: how to unclog FAST

It can be annoying to have a clogged basement drain. Let’s take a look at how we can get this fixed.

If there is a sink nearby the basement clog

If there is a sink nearby the clog, we can try to use this to unclog the drain.

Step 1: Check if other sinks drain well in the house. It is possible that the city system or your main system has a problem and blocks up your whole house (we have discussed how to clear the main sewer here).

If there is only a problem with one sink, it is time to get a plunger. The plungers for sinks are different for toilets. In some instances, you can fold the plunger so that it can be used for both. Fill the sink with water (you might have to remove nearby electric appliances). Once this is done, you place the plunger over the outlet of the sink. You give it a few pushes and see if this removes the clog.

Plungers push water and oxygen down the drain. This can push the clog away and get it flowing again.

If this didn’t work, we will have to take a look under the sink. Grab a bucket and gloves before you start. There are different types of drains:

-Let’s start with the P-shaped part (this is often in plastic). If you are lucky, you can unscrew a part of this as there is a plastic piece that can be turned loose. You might need a tool to do this as it can be tightened quite hard. Place a bucket under this and check if something comes out of it. If it is a big clog, you can just replace this part as well.

If the drain is made out of PVC, you might have to cut it open or unglue it. Once this has been done and the repair is done, you will have to use PVC glue to install a new part.

-If it is a bottle-shaped part (this is often in metal), it might be possible to get the lowest part loose if it is metal. Simply turn on the metal parts. You might need to use quite a lot of force to do this so support the other parts of the drain. Check how everything fits together so you can reinstall it afterward.

Opening up the drain can already solve a lot of problems. If the clog is located further down the drain, we will need more advanced equipment.

Unclog the basement drain by checking the shower

If there is a shower close to the clog, we can use this.

Getting a plunger might work. Make sure that you get the right type of plunger. Don’t use a dirty toilet plunger as this can make your shower dirty. Remove the metal part and place the rubber part over the hole.

Fill the shower with water (make sure that it doesn’t leak in your bathroom). Give it a few good pumps and see if this works. You might have to be patient and use it a few times before you see results. 

If your shower has a flexible drain, you might have to be careful as this is not attached that well. Using a snake might be a better idea (as discussed later on). Some shower drains are flimsy because the installer wanted to save a few dollars but this can lead to problems when you want to unclog them.

Don’t use hot water or liquid drain stoppers as these can mess with your drains and create more problems. A plunger is generally the best option if the shower has been properly installed. 

Basement drain backing up after shower or sink

If the plunger didn’t work, we might have a bigger problem. There are cameras that can go into drains. These have lights and this allows us to see what is going on. Given that the problem can be quite far away, we have to get a camera with a long cable. This makes sure that we can find the root cause of the problem. 

Drains often have a cleanout that you can open by turning it. A cleanout is a cap on the drain that is attached to make it easier to fix clogs. Make sure to have buckets and towels nearby as a lot of water can flow out of this when you open it up!

If you don’t have a cleanout or other access point to the drain, you can cut a hole in the drain and plug it later on.

Cameras allow you to record the problem and find the best way to fix it. Without it is a guessing game and you might be looking in the wrong place. 

Plumbers have more advanced systems that also send a signal to detect where the issue is. Drains can be underground and it can be difficult to find out where to dig without this system.

For this reason, you have to be careful with chemical products as these can damage the drain of your shower. This can lead to leaks and other problems.

Use a drain snake to unclog the basement drain

You can buy a smaller drain snake. This uses manual power or you can combine it with your drill. This can remove a lot of clogs but not everything. It can get stuck in your drains as well so you have to be careful when you use it. This is why it is essential that you check with a camera to know what is going on before you start working. You will need protective equipment such as gloves and goggles. 

You can also rent a drain snake at construction stores. These can be rented for a few hours. These machines are quite powerful and plumbers use the same ones. You have to be careful when you use these as they can cause quite a lot of damage. Read the instructions and call a plumber if you are not sure if you are doing it right. This should remove most clogs. 

Use a water jet to remove the clog from the basement drain

You can get an attachment for your pressure washer and use this to spray water in your drain. This can remove clogs and make sure that your shower works again. This is not for everyone as you can damage your drains if you don’t do it correctly. You also have to wear protective equipment such as gloves and safety goggles. 

A water jet is easier to use than a drain snake as it pushes itself forward. The main drawback is that the backsplash can flood your room if the clog doesn’t disappear. 

Plumbers often use high-pressure waterjets and they are able to clean clogs quite efficiently. Even if there are tree roots in your drains, they can get destroyed. In more than 95% of the situations, a plumber is able to fix the problem with a waterjet. They might charge a few hundred dollars for this as they have to use their expensive equipment to get it fixed. In some instances, the drains have to be fixed and this can involve digging them up. 

Avoid future problems

You can check what the clog is made out of to avoid the same problem in the future. It is possible that the soap that you use is clogging together. It is also possible that you are pushing too much dirt (such as nails) into the drain. Showers should only get water in them and no other liquids or items.

People often throw a lot of objects in it and this can lead to clogs. You can also get a hair catcher so that this doesn’t clog up your drains. If a shower gets used a lot, hair and soap can build up quite fast. It might be needed to clean the shower more often.

You can also check if the size of the drain is correct if you have the same problem often. Installing a bigger train takes more space but can solve a lot of problems if you got the wrong one. The drain also has to be installed at a correct angle. If there are often problems with your shower, you can ask a plumber to inspect it and see if the installation was done correctly.