Knowledge Builders

should a basement floor drain have water in it

by Bennett Cartwright Published 10 months ago Updated 5 months ago

Yes, floor drains should have water in them. They contain drain traps that keep them clean. Therefore, it is necessary to have a fixed volume of water in your drain. Ideally, many suggest maintaining the water level at least 2-3 inches below the drain.

Why do I have standing water in basement floor drain?

  • A sewer system: When the drain connects to the sewer, backflow can become a serious issue.
  • A sewer pit with an ejector pump: This is used when your basement is at a lower level than your sewer line.
  • A sump pit: Sump pits are usually there when you install sump pumps, something we will explain further in the sections below.

How do you install a basement floor drain?


  • Pro: Indispensable for collecting water from numerous sources. ...
  • Pro: Considered standard in new construction, so you won’t pay extra to have one installed if you’re building a house.
  • Con: Difficult to install an effective floor drain in existing basements. ...
  • Con: Installing a floor drain will not prevent water from leaking through basement walls.

How to unclog a sewer drain in basement?

basement sewer trap cover. Sometimes, baking soda and vinegar can unclog a drain if the blockage isn’t especially stubborn. Start by pouring a pot of boiling hot water down the drain, followed by ½ cup baking soda. Let that sit a few minutes, then pour a mixture of one cup of vinegar and one cup of very hot water on top of the baking soda.

What to do when your basement floor drain is clogged?

  • Place the cup of the plunger nicely over the basement floor drain opening.
  • Start plunging gently to engage the plunger to the floor.
  • Plunge aggressively for about 2 minutes.
  • Lift off the plunger and check if the standing water will start to drain properly.
  • Plunge some more if needed.


Why does my basement drain have water in it?

Common causes of water in the basement include a leaking HVAC system or water heater, or a leak in the foundation caused by heavy rain.

Where does the water go in a basement floor drain?

What most people don't know is that their home basement floor drains are usually directly tied to the sewer system of the whole house. In some houses, they even run directly into a sump pit from which the water is lifted to the exterior surface with a pump.

Why is water coming up my floor drain?

When water backs up out of a floor drain, it usually means there is a clog in the drain line, not the floor drain itself. When there is a clog in the main building drain and water is run down a drain from an upper fixture, water will back up in the drain line until it finds somewhere else to come out.

How much water pour down basement drain?

Grab a bucket and begin pouring water down the drain to fill the P-trap. Dumping a gallon or two may be enough, but adding about five gallons to the trap should successfully seal off all sewer gases. Additionally, adding water to the drain will let you see if it is working properly or if it is already clogged.

How does a basement floor drain work?

They're built so that the concrete floor immediately surrounding the drain slopes inward so that water can collect in the drain and be carried away from the house. Most floor drains today direct water toward a collection pit where it is then pumped out to the surface of the property via a sump pump.

How do I know if my basement drain is clogged?

The most telltale sign of a main line sewer drain clog is water backing up out of the basement floor....Listen to your home:Gurgling noises in your drains or toilet.Sewer odor.Water back up or flooding.Sewage back up.

How do I stop water from coming up my basement drain?

The best way to prevent a basement drain from backing up is to install a reverse valve that prevents water from coming back through the drain.

Why is my basement drain backing up when it rains?

When there are heavy rains or rapid snowmelt, an abundance of water and debris end up in municipal sanitary sewers, which overloads the sewer system. If it's more water than the sewer system can handle, excess water can flow backward into your home's sewer line and subsequently overflow into your basement.

How do you clear a floor drain trap?

First, pour a quart of boiling water into the drain and let it sit for 10 minutes. Next, pour an entire one-pound box of baking soda into the drain, followed by 32 ounces of vinegar. Let this fizz for 10 minutes, and then slowly flush the drain with another quart of boiling water.

Are drains supposed to have water in them?

The first answer is YES: Your sewer drains should hold water in certain locations. The reason for the water in the drainage fixture is to prevent rodents and smells entering the building. For example a toilet pan has water in its bowl always this is to prevent foul smells entering the building.

How do I maintain my basement floor drain?

Follow these tips to keep your basement drain flowing freely:Eliminate clutter around the drain. Keep the basement drain clear of boxes, furniture, and other items. ... Prevent debris from washing into the drain. ... Keep the drain grate clean. ... Pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain once a month.

Is there a trap in a floor drain?

The drain trap is an important part of the floor drain. The traps used in floor drains are like those used under kitchen and bathroom fixtures. The drain pipe dips down in a U that is always filled with water, whether flowing or still. The water-filled trap prevents noxious sewer gases from backing up into the home.

Why do basements take up water?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, basements are more likely to take on water than any other part of your home because they’re below grade, i.e., located below the ground’s surface. While drainage provisions don’t eliminate the possibility of flooding entirely (yes, some do eventually fail), they’re usually made during the construction of a new home in an attempt to prevent standing water downstairs. Older homes constructed before building codes required basement drainage are at an even greater risk of water getting in and staying in the basement.

How deep should a trench be for a basement drain?

A trench approximately 1-foot-wide and 1-foot deep is necessary to contain the drainage pipe and the gravel. While some drains are covered with a grate, which can be removed for future maintenance, others are left uncovered if the basement is used only for storage.

How high does a pedestal sump pump sit?

A pedestal sump pump attaches to a pole and sits an average of four to eight inches above the collection pit. A float—much like the one in a toilet tank—rises with the level of the water and then, when it reaches a certain height, activates the sump pump to push the water to the surface.

How deep should a sump pump be?

A submersible sump pump is placed in a collection pit located below floor level. Most pits are approximately two feet wide and one-and-a-half feet deep , although pits up to three feet deep can be installed if groundwater is a problem in your area. A small pit will fill up more quickly, causing the pump to cycle on more frequently, but a deeper pit is more difficult to clean out and maintain. When the water in the collection pit reaches a certain level (usually a few inches), the sump pump kicks on and pumps the water through a pipe or hose to the surface of your yard, where it drains away naturally.

What is the purpose of floor drains?

3. Floor Drains. Floor drains are most often installed during original construction, often in the utility area, to drain away excess water in the basement. The concrete floor around the drain gently slopes towards it, encouraging water to collect there and drain out.

What is an interior French drain?

2. Interior French Drains. Interior French drains are often installed when existing homes start to have basement water problems. But, if you live in an area that gets a lot of rain, it doesn’t hurt to install one when you build your home, too. Similar to exterior drain tile, an interior French drain features a perforated pipe ...

What are the pros and cons of French drains?

THE PROS AND CONS OF INTERIOR FRENCH DRAINS 1 Pro: Cost effective if installed during the construction of your basement; it will add $1,500 to $2,000 to the foundation bill. 2 Pro: Collects groundwater from beneath the basement floor and directs it to a collection pit via a sump pump where it is pumped away to the surface. 3 Con: An interior French drain will only remove groundwater from beneath the basement floor. It will not stop water from seeping through cracks in the basement walls. 4 Con: Installing an interior French drain in an existing basement is a major project. Concrete must be broken out, which requires drilling through the floor and using a jackhammer. Plan to spend $7,000 to $15,000, or more, depending on the size of your basement and the thickness of the existing concrete.

Why does my basement floor get water?

This keeps your basement floor dry and prevents flooding, which may damage personal belongings. Common causes of water in the basement include a leaking HVAC system or water heater, or a leak in the foundation caused by heavy rain. Just like any drain in your home, basement floor drains are prone to clogging, even more so because dirt, pet hair, ...

Why does my basement drain clog?

A basement drain may also clog because of a mainline clog, broken or damaged pipes, or water flow problems.

What to do if your floor drain is clogged?

If the plunger doesn’t do the trick for your floor drains, pour a box of baking soda and a small amount of white vinegar down the drain to see if it unclogs the drain. For serious clogs, a mechanical drain cleaning machine is needed. Most homeowners don’t own a mechanical drain cleaning machine, and we highly recommend contacting ...

Can you use chemicals to clean a clogged basement drain?

Never use harsh chemicals to treat clogged basement drains, as they will usually only make the problem worse. Standing water in the lowest level of your home can cause a number of issues, including: Damage to floors and walls.

Can a basement floor drain be clogged?

We know that clogged basement floor drains can create serious issues, so it’s important that the clogged drain is cleared quickly. Contacting a professional is the only way to be sure the job is done right and the drain clog is completely cleared. If you’re handy, you can consider trying the following tips to clear a minor drain clog ...

What happens if water seeps into basement?

This is especially true if the water intrusion is new or substantial. Water can cause significant issues in your foundation; cracks, bowing walls, and settling are all caused by water pressure in ...

Can sewage be backed up into basement?

No one ever wants sewage backed up into their basement, but you definitely don ’t want it to happen after you’ve installed drywall, carpeting, and furniture! We recommend that you have a quality plumber install a backwater valve in the floor drain. This will ensure that drain can only work in one direction (out!).

Can a water drain be waterproof?

Waterproofing Can Do Everything Your Floor Drain Can (Only Better) Waterproofing is done by installing a water drainage system. This system consists of two major components, a drainage channel and a sump pump. There are several different options for the drainage channel, which is installed around the perimeter of your basement.

Can HVAC drains smell?

Your HVAC installer may also route the condensate line to the floor drain, also. The floor drain can be connected to the sewer system or storm drains, just like any other drain in your home. Because of this connection, you may occasionally have foul odors coming from the drain. Worst of all, if a major plumbing issue occurs ...

Can you use a basement as a living space?

If You Want to Use Your Basement as Living Space, You Need to Close The Floor Drain. When a floor drain is installed in a basement, it’s done with the assumption that your basement is not going to be living space. Often the floor in your basement will also have a slight slope built into it, sloping towards the drain in the center.

Can you encapsulate a basement?

If your floors are often sloped, this would also be a good time to have the floor leveled, too. Ideally, you would then encapsulate the basement, to make sure your basement stays clean and dry.

Can a sump pump pit be backed up?

Unlike a floor drain, your water drainage system can operate on a daily or weekly basis without any difficulty. A sump pump pit does not connect in any way to your plumbing or sewer system, so it won’t ever be a source of backed-up effluent, either.

Why is it important to drain your basement?

At the lowest point on your basement floor, the floor drain acts as the outlet for any unwanted water, whether it’s from a heavy rain, condensation from your HVAC unit, or a leaking water heater.

Why does my floor drain smell?

However, if the trap beneath the drain is dry, or if the plug for the cleanout is missing, you might smell something unple asant. You can solve this issue by replacing a missing cleanout plug, or by pouring a pitcher of water down the drain every couple weeks. When the floor drain is connected to the sewer, backflow is a concern.

What can drains connect to?

The drain can connect to one of three things, either to the sewer system or to a sump pit. Drains connected to the sewer system are suitable for draining a washing machine, water softener or a basement laundry sink.

What happens when a drain is connected to a sewer?

When the floor drain is connected to the sewer, backflow is a concern. A clog in the main drain can force sewage to seep up through the floor drain, but that can be stopped with a backflow valve. When water or sewage backs up, a float in the valve will rise with it and seal the drain.

Where is the drain hole on a floor?

There may be an additional cleanout for your floor drain, which will be a second outlet when you remove the grate. The large drain hole is at the bottom, and a smaller one with a plug is on the side. Newer drains come from PVC piping, particularly the catch bowl and drainpipe.

Can a sump pump backflow?

Those with drains connected to a sump pit don’t need to worry about backflow too much, but in times of heavy rain, water can back up through the drain if the sump pump fails. Keeping your basement floor drain clear of clogs and readily prepared for potential backups can save you from major flooding issues. For more information on your home’s ...

Can you drain water from a sump pit?

If you connect the drain to a sump pit, it may be against your local ordinance to drain any water with detergents, salt or chemicals. The third connection is if your basement floor is lower than where the main sewer line leaves your home. Here, your drain will connect to a sewer pit with an ejector pump. This is not the same as a sump pit, so ...

Why do toilets have water in their bowls?

The reason for the water in the drainage fixture is to prevent rodents and smells entering the building . For example a toilet pan has water in its bowl always this is to prevent foul smells entering the building .

Should sewer drains have water?

It is one of the more common questions we do get asked, should my drains have water in them? And there are two answers: The first answer is YES: Your sewer drains should hold water in certain locations. The reason for the water in the drainage fixture is to prevent rodents and smells entering the building.

Can a blocked drain cause a gurgling sound?

The second answer is NO: If you notice that drains are overflowing or making a gurgling noise or even sucking the water seal dry it would most likely point towards a fault in the drainage system.

Why is a basement floor drain trap important?

Also known as a P-trap, a floor drain trap creates a water seal that keeps sewer gases and odors from entering the home. Without this fitting, sewer gas can emit into your home. Not only does this release a strong odor that makes your surroundings unpleasant, but it can also compromise your and your family's health.

How do basement floor drains work?

Your basement floor drain is located at the lowest point of the floor. It's designed to collect water - whether from water heater leaks, rain, or condensation from HVAC systems - and lead it away from the house. Older floor drains may carry the water to a drainage ditch to keep excess water away from the septic tank.

How do I fix a clogged basement floor drain?

Another common problem with basement floor drains is clogging. This is because dirt, grease, lint, soap scum, hair, and other debris can build up over time and block your drain. Clogged drains can lead to foul odors and flooding. The good news is there are many solutions to successfully unclog your drain.

Does a basement floor drain need a vent?

Building codes in states like New York City don't require floor drain vents. The building code states unless it's more than 15 feet from the vented line where it connects:

In Closing

Basement floor drains have traps that keep sewer gases from escaping into your home. This trap should always be filled with water so it can create a water seal that protects your home against nasty odors and hazardous emissions. This way, your basement will continue to serve its function in your home without hassle.

What is the best drain cover for a basement?

In most cases, the best type of floor drain cover that you can buy is a polypropylene basement floor drain cover. Drain covers made from plastic materials do not suffer from the same problems as their iron counterparts. Rust, for instance, is a major issue with iron drain covers and polypropylene helps you avoid that issue.

Why is my basement drain clogged?

One of the reasons that backflow and clogging are such common problems in basement floor drains is that the type of water being drained is generally full of debris.

What is a backwater valve?

Also known as a backwater valve, the device can effectively stop any backflow from entering into your home through the basement floor drain. The valve is activated when backflow curves and seals off the floor drain from within the pipes.

Why are floor drains important?

Floor drains serve two primary purposes, both of which are important. First, floor drains are good in the event of a flood. Whether that flood is caused by water seeping into the house from outside or an appliance such as a washing machine, water will always need somewhere to go. Since it is not advisable to leave a basement damp, ...

What is the best way to stop backflow in basement?

An easy way to solve backflow issues in a basement floor drain to install a check valve. Also known as a backwater valve, the device can effectively stop any backflow from entering into your home through ...

What is a drain cover?

A drain cover’s purpose is to stop large debris from entering the drain. Floor drain covers come in a variety of form factors and are made of varied materials. Some basement drain covers can develop problems over the course of time and when that occurs it is time to consider a replacement drain cover with a new one.

What is floor drain?

Floor drains are built with traps meant to hold water. In cases when floor drains are not used for extended periods of time, the water inside of the trap can dry up. With no water left in the trap, gases inside the drainage system easily flow into the house.

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