Handling a Basement Floor Drain Backup

If the floor drain in your basement backs up, your whole basement can be flooded. What is the source of the problem though? There could be a blockage in your main line, and the flood is local waste that can’t exit your home. Or, there could be a problem in the public system, which is sending waste, or backflow, from the sewer system into your house. Water or sewage in your basement can damage walls, floors, and carpets, and destroy furniture and belongings. It can also quickly cause mold.


If there are lower elevation drains, like in a shower or bathtub, that back up too, then the problem is likely in your main line. You may also hear gurgling when the washing machine empties, tub drains, or toilet is flushed. The basement floor drain backup is the first evidence that you have a blockage. Blockages happen if there is a break in the pipe, tree roots have grown into the pipe, or something has gone down the drain or toilet in the house.

The second cause of a basement drain backup is when flooding comes in from the public sewer, which would include rain water or possibly waste from multiple homes. This can happen when the entire drainage system gets overwhelmed by high levels of rain. If your basement is lower than the current water level, then some of that water will try to come up through your basement drain.

If your basement is flooded, but the water didn’t come from the floor drain, then it may have come in through cracks in the house’s foundation. This is sometimes due to clogged gutters, incorrect sloping of the yard, or extra groundwater.

What to Do

Here’s what to do if your basement drain backs up:

  1. Turn off the water supply in the house. Running more water could worsen the flooding.
  2. Turn off the electricity or call your power company if you need them to turn it off. Don’t step in the water if it’s covering electrical outlets.
  3. Open the windows to let out any toxic sewage fumes (and smells).
  4. Move people and pets away from the flood water. Wear protective gear if you need to be in the area.
  5. A small backup can be cleaned up with bleach or disinfectant and a shop vac.
  6. Carpets should be cleaned with hot water and carpet cleaner. Or, they should be replaced.
  7. Use fans and dehumidifiers to make sure the area dries quickly before mold grows.
  8. If the backup is larger, call in the professionals to deal with the hazardous situation.

If you’re not connected to a public sewer and instead have a septic system and sump pump, a backup of the basement drain could be caused by a sump pump problem. To check on this, first stop using water in your house. Then check the ground fault switch for the sump pump and reset it if it has tripped. If it doesn’t begin working again, it may need to be replaced.


If backflow causes your basement drain to flood periodically, you could install a backwater valve or floating backflow drain plug. These features can close off your main line to prevent water from flowing the wrong direction and into your house. You could instead choose to create an overhead sewer system. You may also want to have your sewer inspected and cleaned annually to reduce the likelihood of a blockage in your main line, especially if you have tree roots that grow into your pipes.

Contact us at Satin Touch Homes Reinvented if you need water cleaned up at any hour. We’ll come to eliminate smells, prevent mold from growing, and sanitize sewage contamination.