Learn how to diagnose slow drainage problems from appliances. Find out why appliances like washers and dishwashers should not drain into your basement floor drain, and how to fix it.
LESLIE: Mary in Utah is having a plumbing issue. What’s going on?
MARY: Well, we’ve got a floor drain in our basement that’s really giving us a bad time.
MARY: The washer and dryer are right there by it and straight up above on the first floor is the kitchen sink and the dishwasher. And the floor drain doesn’t seem to take the water through the pipe fast enough. When I do a load of clothes …
TOM: Well, why is the dishwasher and the washing machine draining into the floor drain?
MARY: Gosh, I don’t know. (Leslie chuckles) They told me …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, there’s the question, don’t you think?
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah.
TOM: Because you’re not supposed to be draining into a floor drain; you’re supposed to be draining into your plumbing system . The floor drains are designed just to take the water that accumulates in the event of a basement flood  or something of that nature and run it out but it’s not designed to be an open drain for your appliances.
LESLIE: Wait. And also, aren’t your appliances, because of the nature of the soap and the product in the water, need to go into what is called – like, the gray water drainage so that your community can filter it out for proper disposal, correct?
TOM: If you have a septic system, you need to keep it separate but if you have a regular sewerage system, then it’s not as necessary.
MARY: It is a regular system.
TOM: Well, you need to have it plumbed outside; it should not be going into the floor drain and that’s why it’s backing up, because those drains are not designed for regular appliance use.
TOM: You follow me?
TOM: That’s the problem, Mary. It’s not unclogging the drains ; it’s just that it was never plumbed right to begin with.
MARY: Oh. Great.
TOM: Now, if it turns out that you don’t – you don’t have a waste pipe that’s in the right position, because it’s too high …
TOM: You can put in what’s called a lift pump , which is actually not that expensive. Kind of looks like a five-gallon bucket with a pump in it. It can sit under a sink and it’ll collect that water and lift it up and then drop it into the main drainway’s vent pipe and take it outside.
MARY: Oh! OK.
TOM: Alright. So there’s an option for you, OK?
MARY: (overlapping voices) Appreciate that.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, good luck with your project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.