We recently purchased a house with a walkout basement. After some
heavy rain, we discovered that the drain in the walkout does not drain
properly. Water pooled during the rain (fortunately, not enough to
make it inside) and drained over the course of a few hours.
Any tips on how to unclog this drain? How do I know if it leads to the
sewage system? If so, can I just pour Draino into it? I was going to
try to open the grate to see if I could fish stuff out.
I'm new to home ownership, so any tips are appreciated.
with goggles and rubber glove protection, loosen the cover on it and
have a look in. scoop out any muck with a garden trowel or your least
favorite serving spoon into a trash basket with a heavy duty trash
bag. there should be a trap like under a sink to separate the sewer
gas from the drain you see. but have your neighbors recommend an
experienced plumber to snake your drains including any roof and
basement connections. let him explain how your sewage system works,
and follow his advice.
Basement floor drain, in most cases, does NOT go to sanitary sewer or
septic, if installed properly. (Exception for old urban areas that had
or have combined storm/sanitary systems.) It should go to sump pit
and/or foundation drains, which should either lead to a drywell or
daylight exit. Drano will be useless, since the clog is probably not
organic. OP should call local generic roto-rooter company to get the
drains snaked, and maybe have a camera run down them, if cleaning the
trap right under the grate does not help. BTDT, but in my case the drain
pipes themselves had failed, due to rust or heavy minerals clogging them
like an old teakettle. Drain Guy's heaviest auger got stuck 3 feet in.
Still not sure how I am going to address that, since my sump pit is bone
dry even in heavy rains. It would cost thousands to cut the slab and
replace them, and would not pay back on resale, so I may just fill the
drain holes with sackcrete and forget them.
Does your drain "daylight" somewhere? If oyu know the location oyu
could snake the line from there whilst put water up the drain to
Otherwise snake from basement to sump & use a vacuum to suck out the
debris. If oyu can access the drain & the sump location it might be
possible to pull a "pex-like" re-pipe with minimal digging
Not sure who you were talking to, but if you were talking to me...
Floor drains and wall standpipe for washer, both no longer work. I think
floor drains and foundation drains (if any) used to drain to daylight
where driveway used to be, before they plugged up old single car garage
door under the bedrooms, and filled in the front yard. I think the
washer drain used to go to a drywell, that got destroyed when they did
the family room/2 car garage addition on main level. The wall standpipe
and floor drains MAY be connected- when I moved in, I tested washer
standpipe by running a hose into it for five minutes, and it seemed to
work fine. However, an hour later, all the water reappeared on basement
floor. At the time, I thought it came up through floor drain, but I now
think it came in at base of wall, since I later had some seepage there
before I regraded yard. No sign that floor drains are hooked to sump- I
think it is just a hole in the floor. As mentioned in previous post, I
tried cleaning out the dirt from the drain traps, and having lines
powered-augered, no joy.
Bottom line is, I think that along with the floor drains, the foundation
drains are failed or missing. (Very sandy around here- they may had
decided they were not needed.) Sump pit has been bone dry since I moved
in, and my basement slab is above street level, so I'm not terribly
worried about groundwater coming up. If I can manage to address some
outside drainage issues (like the pipes idiot previous owner put in that
direct downspouts straight down along the barely-sealed basement walls,
and the improper flashing under the sliders that I can't fix till I tear
down the deck), I'm pretty sure basement will stay dry. Thus, it is hard
to justify breaking basement slab and installing new drains. Cutting off
the wall standpipe with an angle grinder, and mudding it and the floor
drains over with concrete, would be the low-buck solution, and make it
clear to next owner that only drain from basement is the collector pipe
on wall that leads to the septic.
Now if I could just figure out some way to make basement sink usable-
right now it just drains onto the floor over the failed drain. Perhaps
one of those plastic boxes with the built-in pump. I could route sink
and washer into it, since the current extended extra-tall drain hose for
washer makes it drain slow.
Aren't undocumented middle-age houses fun? All this would simpler if
previous owner hadn't 'finished' the basement. Bare concrete is so much
easier to diagnose....
I was talking to you and based on your latest post it seems to me oyu
have a good handle on the situation....I was hoping that the drain
would daylight somewhere and oyu could it bring it back online.
I think your idea of the "sump pump in a box" is a good idea ......my
former boss used one that allowed him to have an "old school" darkroom
in is garage.
I got rid of my "undocumented middle-age house"; built in the early
60's / late 50's. It had at least a half dozen owners and was a
maintenance / repair nightmare.
I was in the crawlspace doing some re-piping, wet & muddy when I
noticed two single conductors (looked like old TW) coming down out of
the subfloor & disappearing into the dirt. I had my helper throw the
main breaker, finished my work & got out of there.
I have the EXACT same setup and situation as you aem only with an unfinished
basement and it isn't any easier to diagnose...I can get a hose out past the
daylight wall but is plugged or whatever futher out..Here in Maine it is
illegal to have anything running into the cellar drain and have a dry cellar
so I haven't bothered with it...Had to pipe the washer and water softener
discharge into the septic line when I renovated to bring it up to code...Did
away with the utility sink...I miss it too but can't justify the expense of
a pump to push it up to the septic line..Garage drains are illegal here too
as I found out when I had mine built...Had to pitch the slab toward the
doors...Maine...The Nanny State....
Thanks again for the advice. I've opened the drain and started
scooping some of the gunk out. As suspected, what I've found is a lot
of muck, mostly soil, within there. I forgot to bring my serving spoon
(we don't live there yet), so I couldn't finish doing my scooping, but
will continue that later.
I'm hoping that after finishing scooping the stuff out I'll be in good
enough shape that I don't need a plumber to come and snake.
Actually, that is not a good sign. Unless previous owner was potting
plants in the basement, where did the dirt come from? That indicates to
me it is likely a drain pipe failed, and it is sucking in the dirt from
under the slab, or the floor drains are tied into the foundation drains,
and the whole system is full of dirt.
I may have imprecisely described the situation. This drain is actually
outside the house. The basement has a door that opens to the backyard,
with 3-4 steps up to get to ground level. The drain I'm describing is
at the bottom of those steps, but outside the house. Water pools there
whenever it rains, simply because it's outside the house. I'm assuming
the buildup of soil is from years of rainwater with small amounts of
Does that make sense? Am I missing something here? Are the concerns
you've described valid given the above scenario?
It could have a drywell right under the drain, or it could tie into the
foundation perimeter drains. Or it could just be a grate over a foot of
gravel under the steps. Precast stairwell, brick, or something else? An
outside drain like that would not be likely to be tied in to sewer. Do
downspouts from gutters spill into yard, or do they vanish into pipes
into the ground? If the latter, the stairwell drain probably goes to the
Keep on diggin'. If it is simply dirt and yard waste that collected down
there, once you have dug out all you can, a power auger should be able
to cut it with no problem.
I would start with seeing if the trap is blocked. These often get full
of gunk. Ususally walkouts dont connect to a sewer system. They just
drain to outside somewhere, maybe a drywell or just out on the ground
in a lot of cases. The fact that it is not draining may be the least
of your worries. You need to be more concerned about how the water is
getting in. Hopefully water is backing up your drain. This happened to
a friend when she terraced the back of her yard. The rainwater pooled
on a terrace where the drain emptied out and backed up into the
basement. This would be the best you could hope for.
replying to PB2, Iposter2016 wrote:
Hello, I was wondering what you ended up doing. I am having almist exactly same
thing going on in my house. I also have walkout pato/backyard, whete my basement
is 2 steps down from ground and there is a drain at the door front, lowest
point. My guess is I don't have a dry well or undersuzed if there is one. A
sewer guy snaked it once but didn't solve the problem.
replying to PB2, Tcrosav wrote:
Hi just wondering if you ever found a solution? we have the same problem going
on except the drain doesn't have a pipe its just dirt underneath the concrete
with a drain in the middle of the concrete. water takes hours and hours to soak
into the dirt under the concrete. Which unfortunately means the basement floods
almost every time it rains. The previous owners kept this from us which is
extremely frustrating. Neighbors are telling us that this has been an ongoing
problem with the basement flooding for years and we were totally lied to when we
bought the house! anyways- aside from that frustration, any recommendations on
how to fix this? Its about 12 stairs down to the entry
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