It should go without saying that your basement floor drain is one of the most important parts of your home’s plumbing. Without it, there would be no place for water to exit, leaving your lowest level in disarray. Knowing how your basement floor drain works, and why it is important, is essential for when an emergency strikes.

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. 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. 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 draining a washing machine or sink is suitable in this situation.

For your home’s basement floor drain, only the cover grate will be visible. Down below will be a catch bowl, drainpipe, and a plumbing trap. 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. They may construct older drains from cast iron, and in less common instances, they can make older drains from clay tile.

A floor drain that connects to the sewer system should be able to prevent any bad odors from being emitted. However, if the trap beneath the drain is dry, or if the plug for the cleanout is missing, you might smell something unpleasant. 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. 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. 

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 basement floor drain, and for clearing out any issues, call the professionals at Kellermeier Plumbing at 616-866-5134. At Kellermeier Plumbing, we pride ourselves on being honest and upfront with our customers and strive to provide our clients with the highest level of service.