My Basement Floor Drain Backs Up When the Toilet is Flushed – Causes, Repairs, and Cleanup

Plumbing issues can be frustrating, costly, and unpleasant. If your basement floor drain has started to back up and overflow whenever the toilet is flushed, the result can be raw sewage flooding into your basement. To help you address the problem, we will explain the causes of a basement floor drain back up, ways you can fix the issue, and how you should go about cleaning up the mess.

Basement Floor Drain Backs

The first thing you should do when your basement floor drain is backing up is to stop using the water in the house. Whenever you have a blockage issue, you will be making things much worse if you continue to add more water to the problem. To make things easy, turn off the water in your home, as this will prevent anyone from accidentally adding to the sewer backup. From there, you will need to contact a professional.

Reaching Out to a Professional Plumber

Even if you believe that you can handle the situation and correct the problem yourself, it is always worth reaching out to a professional plumber, as mistakes can result in further damage to your basement and the rest of your home. Given that the basement floor drain is connected to your home’s sewer line, this is not a do-it-yourself job. A professional plumber will have the tools and expertise required to resolve the issue and safely unclog your sewer line.

What Will a Professional Plumber Do to Resolve the Problem?

In most cases, a professional plumber will discover the cause of the blockage by using a sewer cleanout pipe to make room for a camera. The snake has a camera attached that the plumber threads through the pipes to identify the cause of the blockage.

If it is a minor issue, a plumbing snake could be enough to clear the issue. If it is a more serious blockage, they might use a hydro-jet, a high-pressure water jet that is powerful enough to cut through non-flushable items but they can damage the pipes themselves.

plumber repairing toilet drain

In the worst-case scenario, the floor drain backup could be caused by a root system invading and blocking the sewer line for your house. In these situations, the professional plumber will likely use a specialized mixture of chemicals that will kill the root system.

Once the invasive roots are killed, the plumber will then extract the dead roots. If the pipes have been severely damaged and cannot be repaired, then they will have to be replaced. Unfortunately, this can be an expensive and time-consuming process.

While you could potentially address the issue yourself by snaking the pipes, this will only correct minor blockages, and there is a good chance you will not be able to reach the blockage that has backed up a basement floor drain. In most situations, it is better to play it safe and contact a professional to address the problem.

Professionally Installed Preventatives

If your basement floor drain regularly backs up, you may want to speak with your plumber about putting in a backwater valve inside your basement floor drain. This valve seals the basement drain as soon as sewage begins to build, which will not correct the blockage, but it will prevent you from having to perform a messy and gross cleanup.

What Are the Causes of Basement Floor Drain Backup?

Basement Floor Drain

Preventing a problem from occurring with the sewer drain in the first place is always better than having to fix one. By understanding why your basement floor drain is backing up whenever you flush the toilet, you will be able to avoid the issue from happening again.

In most cases, basement floor drain backflow issues result from non-flushable items being flushed down the toilet. While it may seem like the item was flushed successfully, it can lead to a clog in the main sewer line located between your home’s water system and the municipal sewer system that your home is connected to.

In some cases, even flushable items, like toilet paper, can cause blockages and basement floor drain back up when flushed excessively, which is why it is so important to be mindful of what you are flushing to avoid a flooded basement.

Commonly Flushed Items that Cause Basement Floor Drain Backup

  • Bunches of paper towel
  • Makeup remover wipes
  • Tampons and pads
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Sponges and other surface cleaning items

There are many more items that can lead to a blockage, but no matter what the exact item that caused the blockage is, the fact is the plumbing in your home is only designed to handle three things: human waste, water, and moderate amounts of toilet paper. Flushing non-flushable items always increase the risk you will have to deal with a blockage, which will cause sewage to back up and flow from your basement floor drain.

Other Causes of Blockages

As mentioned above, tree roots can also seek out the moisture in your sewage lines and cause a blockage. Once a root system has infiltrated your pipes, the roots will grow, and the result can be a serious blockage that will continue to get worse.

How Should You Clean the Mess After a Basement Floor Drain Backup?

Once the blockage has been removed and your sewage system is flowing correctly, you will need to clean the mess.

To start, do what you can to dry and air out the area by opening windows and setting up fans. Scoop up what you can with buckets and a mop, but use items you are comfortable disposing of after you are finished, as you could be dealing with raw sewage.

You can then use a mixture of hot water and a detergent of your choice to scrub any surface that touches the sewage water. After you finish, rinse everything down with hot water. You might have to dispose of certain items that were destroyed by the flooding.

If it was a serious flood, you may need to contact professional cleaners and do a formal inspection, as there could be water damage along the walls that could lead to mold issues.

Final Words

If your basement floor drain backs up when your toilet is flushed, it is always best to reach out to a professional. While the problem could be too large to fix yourself, you can make a significant difference by preventing the problem from reoccurring in the future. Always be mindful of what you flush down the toilet and regularly inspect your basement for drain backup issues.

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