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How to Clear a Blocked Floor Drain in the Basement

Want to know how you can tackle a blocked basement floor drain by yourself? Learn how to unblock a jammed basement floor drain yourself using a plunger, drain snake, and other homemade drain cleaning techniques before calling a plumber.

A blocked basement floor drain can lead to numerous issues if left unaddressed, such as structural flooding, slippery safety hazards, mould growth, ruined stored items, and an unpleasant odour. These problems can escalate over time, making it imperative to tackle the blockage promptly.

In this article, we will guide you through various methods to effectively clear a blocked basement floor drain. We will also provide tips on preventing future clogs to keep your basement in top condition. So, let’s explore the best ways to resolve this common household issue and maintain a clean, safe, and functional basement environment.

Gear Up for Drain Clearing Battle

Before you begin unblocking your basement drain, ensure you have a few essential tools:

  • Plunger – Choose a large, forceful sink/toilet plunger with a deep cup and a sturdy wooden handle for extra leveraging power.
  • Drain Snake/Auger – Both hand crank and electric-powered varieties work. Select a length fitting pipe run.
  • Bucket – Catches dirty drain water; provides plunger supplemental water.
  • Old Towels – Soak up splatter spills.
  • Flashlight – Illuminates inner drain workings.
  • Gloves & Goggles – Guard against contact with contaminated water and debris.
  • Knee Pads – Save joints from hard basement flooring during lengthy snaking sessions.

Make sure to wear protective equipment like gloves, goggles, and knee pads before working on a drain that likely contains questionable grime. Avoid open cuts or direct skin contact throughout the process, as you don’t want to risk contact with contaminated water and debris inside the pipes.

Evaluating Your Clog Situation

Before grabbing your tools, take some time to evaluate the clog situation. This will give you critical information to plan your drain-clearing strategy effectively.

Check how much water is pooling in the drain well - if it’s filled right up to the brim, that likely indicates a major blockage. If it’s only partially covered, a minor clog is more probable. Use a wire hanger to carefully feel around inside the drain opening and gauge how deep into the pipe the debris is stuck.

Uclogging Basment Drain

Also, observe if any daylight shines down from overhead when you shut off the basement lights. A faint glow suggests gunk accumulated closer to the surface before the pipe travels horizontally away into darker areas.

Listen closely as you steadily pour a bucket of water directly into the drain as well. Loud gurgling noises are good - that means water is moving vertically down initially unobstructed before hitting the clogged mass deeper inside the system. If flow sounds much weaker, you likely have debris build-up starting right at the drain entrance.

Getting clues upfront as to partial or complete clogging, surface or inner pipe locations, and estimated debris amounts appropriately informs your action plan and gears you up for the necessary level of effort.

Attempt Drain Dislodgment Via Plunger

If signs point to a partial clog or smaller items lodged near the drain cover, suction force may free the debris.

Start by securely positioning the plunger over the entire floor drain opening, ensuring the rubber cup makes tight contact on all sides to seal airflow. Fill the plunger cup about 1/3 of the way with water to submerge its base completely. The water adds weight and improves the vacuum seal.

Quickly plunge straight down over the drain several times in smooth motions without breaking the cup rim seal against the surface to build force. Then, remain with the cup pressed down fully into the opening and give the entire plunger several determined twists. The cup edges grinding into the pipe walls adds extra prying action to help knock loose stuck gunk.

Release the plunger to see if desired gurgling sounds or water level reductions indicate regained flow. Repeat focused plunge-twist sequences as needed until hopeful signs show the obstruction dislodged at least partly downstream.

Tips for Improving Plunger Suction

If initial plunging efforts don’t yield improved drainage, add more supplemental water to the plunger cup to strengthen the vacuum seal. Also, attempt to cover the overflow hole temporarily. The increased isolated pressure concentrates force directly on the clog. Just beware, too vigorous plunging covered risks splashing messy overflow.

Using a Drain Auger Snake

If plunging fails to clear the blockage, your next recourse is to bring in the rotating drain snake:

Birds Eye View Blocked Basement Drain

Step 1: Insert Snake Into Drain

Feed the metal coil auger tip first into the drain at a 30-degree angle. Have hand crank or electric motor powered variety ready

Step 2: Power On at a Low Setting When Resistance is Met

Slowly crank or turn the snake on the lowest setting once contact is made with the clog. This allows the rotating hooks to work gradually into the clog debris mass.

Step 3: Forward and Backward Cranking Motion

Responsively crank or spin the hooks forward and backward to help grab and break up debris and dislodge it downstream.

Step 4: Listen for Clearing Flow Sounds

Successful clog removal is accompanied by a sudden whoosh of draining water flows.

Step 5: Exercise Caution If Significant Snagging

If you experience too much strain that risks pipe damage, reverse the snake direction. Know your limitations to avoid perma-stick auger situations.

The key steps are called out and better explained for effectively using a powered snake/auger tool to hook and clear serious drain clogs after plunger attempts disappoint.

Handling Tricky Snaking Issues

Using mechanical snakes takes practice, given the potential to jam debris or damage piping further if not careful. For very gradual progress, repeatedly pull the snake back to check if debris has freed, then continue working forward again in clean pipe sections for better grabbing efficiency.

If the snake keeps veering left or right instead of continuing down the straight pipe path, put pressure on it while manually twisting to guide it through fitting joints.

Slow down on cranking or activating powered motors once hitting solid mass blockages. Let auger hooks nibble gently with occasional two-way motions, waiting for slight give before driving forward. Forcing risks snapped cables.

Know DIY Attempt Limits

Basement Blocked Floor Drain

As a homeowner, it’s important to recognise the limitations of DIY snaking tools and abilities. Calling in drain professionals is wise if you run into serious obstructions deep inside long pipe stretches beyond your auger snake’s reach. Horizontal basement drains with a bellied shape that traps debris in the middle can also be extremely difficult to clear without detaching pipes to access properly.

If you confirm via a small camera snake or detector that the clog lurks downstream in an area where your standard at-home auger just can’t quite get to, it’s best to have a professional deal with it.

Attempting to forcefully clear severe clogs exceeding your DIY snaking capabilities risks broken cables or further jamming debris in place. Know your limits to avoid creating bigger headaches - some obstructions better leave the big guns equipped to handle them.

Prevent Repeat Drain Clogs

Basement Blocked Drain Floor

While tackling a current clog, also address what likely caused it so problems don’t resurface.

Catching debris early and keeping smaller particles moving freely helps tremendously. But also assess baseline environmental factors enabling chronic drainage issues:

Addressing these root issues through pruning invasive neighbouring trees, sealing cracks with hydraulic cement, repairing appliance leaks, or installing foundation wall waterproofing guards against repeated drain clogging. Tackle sources rather than just symptoms!

Get Backup from the Drainage Experts

As a Sydney homeowner, tackling a blocked basement floor drain yourself can seem like a frustrating weekend chore. But in many cases, a few simple DIY methods like focused plunging and mechanical snake augering can break through the clog successfully.

However, knowing when persistently poor drainage points to larger underlying issues that need professional diagnosis is also key. If efforts just aren’t giving the relieving gurgle of freed flows or you confirm larger masses stuck downstream, call in the big guns.

The residential drainage specialists at Fixed Today Plumbing possess industrial hydraulic pressure jets and camera pipe scoping equipment to trace culprit leaks properly, clear out masses accumulating over decades, and prescribe fixes to faulty drainage design. Don’t resign yourself to perpetually damp basement storage or simply masking surface symptoms! Get backup from drainage experts who are equipped to remedy the root causes behind chronic clogs for good.

Contact Fixed Today Plumbing online or call 1800 349 338 to schedule an inspection by Sydney’s top-rated drainage restoration team today before your next rainy day!

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