LESLIE: Kenny in Iowa, you’re on the line. What can we do for you?
KENNY: Well, I got a problem with a drain in my basement and I’ve owned a house before and I’ve never run into a basement drain that looked like this one.
LESLIE: Well, what does it look like?
KENNY: Well, it’s got the center drain in the middle; about a two-inch pipe going straight down. And then, on the rim of the basin, it’s got another drain running parallel to that one going straight down about an inch in diameter. And then, running underneath the floor, on an angle towards another floor drain, is another pipe. And – which one do I snake? (chuckling)
TOM: What are these drains draining? Is this for the plumbing system or is this a basement floor drain that you’re talking about?
KENNY: It’s a basement floor drain that’s for my washer. The person who built the house had built about a – oh, a foot-high basin around it with cinder blocks and sealed it to the floor …
KENNY: … and the washer sits on top of that. And then, it drains into that when it drains.
TOM: And the basin is being drained by this pipe?
KENNY: Right. It goes down into one of the three holes. (chuckling)
TOM: Well, it sounds to me like it’s not a proper drain for this particular sink that’s draining the washer. It sounds to me like it’s probably draining back into the soil somewhere. Is that what you expect is happening to this water?
KENNY: Oh, I’m not sure. I do have some awfully green grass out near the …
TOM: (chuckling) Yeah, it doesn’t sound right to me. You know what you might want to think about, because this is what’s known as gray water – in other words, there’s no sewage in this – you could install a very inexpensive lift pump, which looks like a plastic bucket with a float in it and a pump that, when it fills up with water from the washing machine, it simply kicks on and then it pumps the water up and drops it into the regular drain. It’s about the size of a five-gallon bucket. It’s not very noisy. It works off a regular outlet and it’ll eliminate this problem. Because it sounds to me like this was never plumbed right to begin with.
KENNY: Alright. Yeah, I just never seen a drain quite …
TOM: Well, floor drains can do that. Floor drains can start in different parts of the basement floor and usually they’re going to go out somewhere; we don’t know where. They could go into a dry well and if you don’t see them coming out to daylight somewhere, that’s probably where they’re ending up. And again, that’s not the right place to drain this water because if it’s draining too close to the foundation, it could undermine the footing or do some damage like that. So I would suggest you simply get a lift pump and have one installed and pick the water up to where it’s high enough where you can get into the drain waste vent pipe coming out of your plumbing systems in your house and drop it right back into the municipal system that way.
KENNY: Cool. I appreciate that.
TOM: You’re welcome, Kenny. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.