Why are my floor drains overflowing

The 3 reasons your floor drains back up are:

  1. Damage in the main drain lines for your house.
  2. Build up of slime over time.
  3. Foreign objects getting lodged in the pipes under your house.

All piping ages and decays: the pipes within your home let you know when you have a problem by leaking. The floor drain backs up and makes us home owners aware there is a problem. It is often unclear what has caused the problem while we watch detrius floating about.

A drain will always be blocked or obstructed in some way for waste water to back up onto the floor.

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So what can cause a block in the pipes?


Sewage lines under or leaving you home could be rotting, could be incorrectly installed,or could have become disjointed due to ground heave. Any break or misalignment of the piping can allow dirt, roots or any other external item to enter and block the pipe.


The gels, soaps, creams and lotions that we use nowadays along with the frequency they get used have caused more and more slime to build up inside the piping.  As all the soaps toothpaste etc. build up on the walls of the drain piping, the area for the waste to flow decreases which in turn allows more slime to build up. This slime build up is inevitable but the condition, type and installation of the drain pipe will affect how long it takes to become a problem and be seen as a puddle around the floor drain.


We’re not looking for the little green men here but objects that can and do produce flow restrictions and blockages. A foreign object is anything that gets into the drain that should not be in it! Other than toilet paper, this limits the waste to only what we eat!! Even the “Flushable” wet wipes should not go in as we have seen plenty caught up on sharp edges or joints in the piping.

Repair and Prevention

The remedy for damaged pipes is to first clear the blockage using a plumbing snake to restore flow and then investigating the cause with a sewer camera. The images from a drain camera can tell you a lot about your sewage drain line; where the issue is, what caused it to happen and therefore help you chose a course of action to prevent it happening again.

For the slime build up, Biosmart or similar type of preventative ‘maintenance products’ are all that is needed. Biosmart used on a regular basis removes any slimy organic build up from the walls inside the drain pipe and keeps flow at a maximum. These products can never repair or correct for any poor plumbing already in place.

If a drain UFO was the cause, determining where and how the object found its way into the line is a good start. Most UFO’s can be traced back to toilets from items falling or being thrown in them and ‘Flushed Away’ or during renovation type work.  A simple but very effective prevention method is to put the lid down after each use.

Collapsed, cracked or misaligned piping will need to be either replaced or patched. A severely broken or collapsed pipe will need to be dug out and replaced. For a lot of disjointed or cracked piping, pipe patching may be a solution.  Pipe Patching or trenchless is a relatively new way to repair the underground or main lines with out digging. This system involves inserting a fibre-glass pipe patch into the main sewer, thereby covering the damaged part and preventing future back ups.


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