How to Unclog a Basement Floor Drain

    By entering your email address you agree to get a weekly email newsletter. We'll respect your privacy and unsubscribe at any time.
    Need Sump Pump Help? Call Our Nationwide Team At (888) 831-2879!

    Need to unclog a basement floor drain without calling a plumber? Our team of experts knows how to fix clogged drain lines and is here to help! Fixing a clogged drain is easy – but you need to act quickly to prevent a flooded basement, a plumbing problem or other water damage.

    In this how to guide we will show you all the tools you need to unclog a drain in your basement floor – with step by step directions – as well as a few tips, tricks, and frequently asked questions so your drains work correctly and do not cause a broken pipe or water damage.

    Basement floor drains are responsible for collecting water that collects on your basement floor from the sink, sump pump, or ground water. The drain line connects to the city sewer line to drain the water.

    Signs You Have A Floor Drain Clog

    The three most common signs of a clogged drain are standing water around the top of the drain and a foul, sewer smell in the basement, and water draining slower than normal.

    • Standing Water: A puddle of water near the drain means there is a clog. Drain pipes need a place to drain and if the line is physically blocked water will pool in the pipes and eventually on the area around the drain.
    • Sewer Smells: Modern drain systems use a P-Trap to allow water to drain while keeping sewage smells inside the drain lines. If there is a blockage in the basement drain it can cause sewer smells to creep into your basement and the rest of the home.
    • Slow Draining Lines: Clogged floor drains do not happen overnight, it is usually a build-up of materials over an extended period of time. If you notice the floor drain ‘working’ slower and slower it might be time to clean the line before it is fully clogged and no water can drain.

    Have a Pet?

    Homes with pets that shed tend to experience more clogs in the basement and garage floor drain – make sure to clean them out on a regular basis before the clog impacts the main sewer line.

    Common Causes of Clogged Basement Drains

    The most common causes are household debris like dirt, hair, dryer lint, gravel, leaves, and other tiny objects. In some cases a tree root or other outside factor can cause the clog but most are preventable with seasonal cleaning!

    • Hair: Human and animal hair are the most common causes of clogs. Overtime a few stands of hair can turn into a hairball that does not allow any water to pass. It usually starts with a partial clog that turn into a full blockage. Cats and dogs with long hair make the problem worse and will require extra cleaning.
    • Dirt and Gravel: Dirt and gravel can build up over time in the drain. The dirt is carried into the drain by the water as well as rolling along the ground with foot traffic. Try to keep the basement floor as clean as possible
    • Dryer Lint: If you have a washer and dryer in the basement it is not uncommon to find dryer lint built up inside the drain. Just like human hair dryer lint can stick together and eventually form a total blockage in the floor drain.
    • Leaves: Basements with window wells are prone to collecting leaves on the floor and in the drain lines. If this sounds like your basement make sure to sweep the floor and keep leaves from accumulating and causing a sewer line clog.
    • Rust: Metal draining covers can rust if they are exposed to water for long periods of time – and eventually clog. The best way to prevent this from happening it to prevent the rust from forming – once it has caused a blockage the pipe will need to be replaced.

    Unclogging Drains With a Snake

    The easiest way to unclog a drain in your basement flood is by using a snake. If you own a drain snake all you need to do is detach the drain cover (most can be detached with a Philips head screwdriver), run the drain cleaning snake until you clear the clog and enter the main drain line.

    In some cases the clog can be pushed into the city sewer line and in other cases it will have to be pulled back up through your drain line in order to prevent basement flooding.

    Our Top Rated Snake

    Our favorite drain snake is this 25 inch snake for removing clogs and fixing standing water in a blocked drain.

    Unclogging Drains Without a Snake

    If you do not own a plumber’s snake and do not want to call a drain cleaning service or plumbing company there are other options.

    The easiest fix is to try and use a drain cleaner like Draino or a mix of Baking Soda and Vinegar. Liquid pipe cleaners are effective at removing blocks caused by hair, leaves, or other organic material – but struggle to clear tougher blockages.

    Another effective option for minor blockages is hot water. Heat water in a kettle to at least 200 degrees and pour it down the drain mixed with a few squirts of dish soap. This option is not as effective as other drain pipe cleaning methods but anyone can do it home without any tools.

    Clearing Clogs Caused by Rust

    Rust clogs happen due to long periods of no maintenance. Try to clear the line using a screwdriver or else you might have to replace the pipe.


    Why is my basement floor drain backing up?

    Basement flood drains backup because of a blockage caused by material coming from inside the home. In other cases it may be caused by a broken sewer pipe.

    How do you clear a clogged floor drain?

    Most clogged floor drains can be cleared with a plumbers snake or drain cleaner.

    Can you put Drano in a basement floor drain?

    Yes, Drano is safe to put down most drains. If one bottle does not clear the sewage backup you will need to use a plumber’s snake.

    Need Sump Pump Help? Call (888) 831-2879

    Have a Sump Pump Question?

    Have a question about your Sump Pump? Call us at Nationwide at (888) 831-2879 or send it in and our team will lend you a hand!