One of the more unpleasant problems homeowners experience is water backing up through the basement floor drain. Without prompt plumbing service, this can cause significant water damage to a basement. Because the drain in the basement floor sometimes connects to the home’s main drain line, several possible culprits could be behind a blockage. Here's a closer look at the most common causes.

Why Is Your Basement Floor's Drain Backing Up?

1. Drain Line Clog

A drain line clog anywhere in the house may cause basement floor flooding because wastewater seeks the lowest point where it can escape. These everyday clogs are often the result of improper items getting flushed down the drains. Baby wipes, paper towels, and hygiene products can get trapped in the pipes since they don’t dissolve as well as toilet paper. Removing the clog will typically resolve the issue in this case.

2. Tree Root Damage

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If you have trees in your yard, their growing roots could penetrate the main drain line, causing leaks and blockages that contribute to a basement floor backup. Tree roots naturally grow toward moisture, so even a tiny crack in your pipes may cause them to grow toward it. 

A plumbing service professional will use a specialty camera to determine whether roots have penetrated the pipes. If this solves the mystery, the plumber will need to dig into the earth and either repair or replace part of the line.

3. Collapsed Pipe

Over time, drain pipes may settle or be crushed and even collapse. This can cause the flow of water within the pipe to become constricted, making a backup in the basement more likely during times of high water usage. While a restriction or "belly" in pipe can sometimes be cleaned with specialty tools, pipes that are completely collapsed will often need to be replaced entirely.  A camera inspection can also help determine the cause of the problem and pinpoint excavation.

4. Outlet or Sewer is Backed Up

Sometimes in extreme rainfall in areas controlled by combination storm sewers, the system can get overloaded and there is nowhere for the water to go.  Water and sewage could back up into your basement.  A flood guard installed in your floor drain could prevent this in very light backups. 

There are also situations where the basement drain outlet could be clogged or buried in rural housing which may feature a dedicated "daylight drain" which carries only water from the foundation and basement floor drains far from the foundation.  Locating and maintaining this outlet could save costly backups if this is your situation.  A camera/location can determine where a long drain line outlets. 


If you need help addressing a basement floor drain clog or another inconvenient issue, contact Tarvin Plumbing in the Greater Cincinnati, OH, area. Providing plumbing services for over 110 years, their licensed, bonded, and insured team provides quality work you can trust. To learn more about their plumbing services, visit them online or call (513) 321-5726.