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Floor Drain Maintenance Tips

In the family of indoor plumbing, people often overlook floor drains. Floor drains resemble the drains you see in bathtubs and showers since they’re flush with the surface, but actual floor drains are commonly found in basement floors, garages, laundry rooms, older bathroom floors and sometimes on patios and driveways. Floor drains are installed anyplace where fast, efficient water drainage is needed.

The humble floor drain captures overflow from sinks, toilets, tubs, rain, etc., then directs it safely to a sewer or municipal storm drain so that the floor stays dry and rooms don't flood.

If you have floor drains in your home or business and you smell foul odors coming from them, it’s because the traps have dried out. You see, floor drains have one of those U-shaped P-trap pipes just like your bathroom sink drain. That U-shaped pipe is designed to hold water, which stands in the pipe and prevents sewer gases from coming up through the drain. If you smell sewer gas, grab a bucket of water and start pouring it into the floor drain. Go ahead a dump a gallon or two or preferably a whole five gallon bucket of water into the drain. This will not only seal off sewer gases, it will also let you see if the drain is working properly. If it’s clogged it won’t be able to do its job when called upon.

Floor drains can become clogged just like any other drain. In fact, they become clogged more often than many types of drains because they’re on the floor where dirt and debris collect. That debris often finds its way inside the drain. In fact, lots of people sweep their floors and sweep the dirt right into the floor drain. Please don’t do that!

Since they are often ignored, most homeowners don’t think about floor drain maintenance until it’s too late. Many issues with floor drains can be avoided with some pre-planning and simple care. Following these easy maintenance tasks will ensure that your floor drains will do their job when you need them to and prevent flooding and the expensive water damage left behind.


Indoor floor drains capture overflow from sinks, toilets, tubs, water heaters, washing machines, etc. Outdoor floor drains quickly move water away from surfaces during and after heavy rainstorms. Whether indoors or outdoors, floor drains are designed to efficiently and safely direct water to a sewer or municipal storm drain so that the floor stays dry and rooms don't flood. The purpose of traps is to prevent sewer odors and gasses from making their way through the drain and into your home. Make sure to fill these traps regularly to ensure they're working as they should - simply pour a gallon of water down each floor drain in your home. The water will fill the trap, forming a barrier between your home and your sewer system.


Many different types of debris collect on your floor, from pet hair to dust bunnies, all of it runs the risk of ending up potentially clogging a floor drain. The first sign of a drain clogging is if it is draining slowly. If you catch the clog early on, clean it as soon as possible to reduce the risk of flooding. Typically, a few strong pumps with a plunger can clear that minor clog. If not, try pouring a solution of baking soda and vinegar down the drain. If you have a drain auger, feed the cable into the drain until you meet resistance, then turn the cable and try to reel back whatever is clogging the drain


At least once each quarter, check your drains for debris and clear them. If necessary, use a safe, liquid drain cleaner, or, if your drains haven't been cleaned in a while, have a professional plumber from your local Roto-Rooter do the job for you. It's also good idea to schedule professional drain cleanings annually to prevent clogs and keep your drains running.

So, if sewer gas is a problem and your floor drains don’t get much water flowing into them, be sure to refill the traps about once a month. And at least twice a year, you should really give that drain a workout. If it appears to be clogged or slow, take steps to remove the clog. Use a crank snake and see if you can reach the clog. But because floor drains are often connected by long pipes, the hand auger may not reach all the way through the pipe. It’s a good idea to call a sewer and drain cleaning company like Roto-Rooter to clean it out professionally.



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