How to Fix a Clogged Basement Floor Drain

To unclog your basement floor drain, plunge it after pouring boiling water down the drain or use a baking soda solution to help remove the blockage.
Written by Andrew Biro
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
If your basement floor drain becomes clogged, the best course of action is to act quickly to minimize potential damages—you can use boiling water and a plunger to dislodge the clog or pour boiling water, baking soda, and vinegar down the drain to unblock it without having to call a professional.
While your basement is underground, you don't want your basement to be underwater, too. A clogged basement floor drain can cause minor flooding resulting in property damage or even lead to mold growth.
Knowing how to unclog a drain yourself can make all the difference and will likely save you time and money if done correctly. That’s why licensed
home and auto insurance
has put together this guide on how to fix a clogged basement floor drain.
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Why is my basement drain clogged?

Many things can potentially clog a basement drain, but some of the most common are dirt, debris, and pet hair. Any water that’s present—either from leaks in the foundation or the HVAC system—in your basement will be directed to the drain, so any dirt or hair around the area will be carried into the drain as well. 
It’s also possible for damaged or broken pipes, mainline backups, and other plumbing issues to clog the drain.
MORE: How to clear clogged windshield washers

The problem with clogged drains

If your basement drain is clogged and allowing standing water to accumulate, it can lead to a handful of other problems:
  • Excessive moisture buildup resulting in the growth of mold and mildew, both of which can cause health and respiratory issues when present in large quantities
  • Warping and other forms of water damage to wood flooring, baseboards, and walls
  • Water damage to personal property (e.g. furniture, books, and boxes of stored items) or even the total destruction of documents, photographs, and other paper items
Regular cleaning of—and around—the floor drain can help minimize the possibility of these compounding issues, as can the quick remedying of any clogging that does happen.

How to unclog a basement floor drain

There are a couple of ways to unclog a basement drain without having to call a professional, including:
  • A plunger: Remove the drain cover and pour a pot of boiling water down the drain. Then, wait 15 minutes and then place the plunger directly over the drain, giving it a few strong plunges.
  • Boiling water, baking soda, and vinegar: After removing the drain cover, pour a pot of boiling water down the drain, followed by ½ cup of baking soda, and let sit for two minutes. Then, mix 1-cup of vinegar and 1-cup of hot water and pour over the baking soda. Let sit for five to ten minutes and finish by pouring one last pot of boiling water down the drain.
If none of these DIY solutions work, you should call a licensed plumber and have them fix the issue—they’ll be able to use a mechanical drain cleaning machine to unclog it.

Prevention tips

To help prevent your basement drain from clogging in the first place, make sure to keep the floor of your basement clean and free of debris—and never sweep dirt and dust into the drain, no matter how convenient it may seem. It’s also a good idea to clean your drains regularly to prevent buildup from happening on your end.

Does home insurance cover basement water damage?

Yes and no—it will always depend on the source of water damage and whether or not it was caused by one of the named perils listed in your homeowners insurance policy. In most cases, your home insurance will provide coverage for sudden water damage caused by a burst pipe, overflow, or discharge—but it will never protect against flood water basement damage or water damage resulting from homeowner negligence.
A backed-up sewer or water main that floods your basement can be a bit of a legal grey area, as these lines can be considered external sources of water damage and thus may not be covered—always consult with your insurance agent before submitting a claim.

How to save money on home and auto insurance

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You can unclog a blocked drain with boiling water and a plunger placed over the drain or by pouring boiling water, followed by baking soda, vinegar, and more boiling water, down the drain. 
If these DIY remedies fail, call a professional.
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