How to Unclog a Floor Drain

Floor drains, found in basements all across the United States, don’t get clogged very often. When they do, many clogs can easily be removed as a part of a DIY project, provided that the homeowner has the right tools at his or her disposal. In this tutorial, we’ll discuss the best ways to unclog your stuffed up floor drain.


It can be hard to predict the type of tools you’ll need for this project, because it depends on the circumstances of your floor drain. The following tools are a best guess for the types of things you might use to clear your clog.

  • Chisel
  • Screw driver
  • Pipe wrench
  • Hammer
  • Shop vacuum
  • Plumber’s auger or electrical snake
  • Teflon tape


Once you’ve gathered your tools, it’s time to get started. The procedure may vary from one drain to the next.

  1. Remove the cover from the drain. The cover may need to be chiseled off, or it may need to be unscrewed with a screw driver.
  2. Look inside the drain. You’ll see a hole go straight down into the drain, and a clean-out plug on the right-hand side of the drain hole. The hole going straight down leads to a curved portion of the drain called the P-trap. The P-trap contains water that prevents sewer gases from escaping into your home. The clean-out plug leads to a pipe that goes straight down into the drain.
  3. Use the shop vacuum to suck out dirt, gunk and and water from the P-trap.
  4. Remove the cap from the clean-out plug. You may need the pliers or the chisel for this, if the cap is stuck.
  5. Insert the tip of the snake or plumber’s auger into the clean-out pipe. An electrical snake is the best tool for this job because snakes have more power, the cables are longer and many snakes are controlled by a pedal, which leaves your hands free to guide the cable into pipe. If you don’t wish to rent a snake, you can also use a plumber’s auger, which are available for purchase at home improvement centers. Plumber’s augers do the same job as snakes, but they often have shorter reach. Plumber’s augers also have less power, so there’s less chance that you’ll be able to clean out the drain with an auger.
  6. Drive the tip of the auger or snake down into the pipe. When you encounter the clog, remove the cable and pull out the gunk on the end of the cable.
  7. Wrap teflon tape around the threaded part of the clean-out plug to make it easier to remove the plug in the future.
  8. Insert the clean-out plug back into the clean-out pipe.
  9. Pour water into the drain to check the drainage in the pipe and to refill the water in the P-trap.

Know When to Contact Terry’s Plumbing

If you’re a novice at drain cleaning, or if you’re lacking the right tools, you may have trouble cleaning your drain. At Terry’s Plumbing, we offer drain cleaning services, have all the right tools, and we love what we do. If you live in the Pittsburgh area, call us today at (412) 364-9114.