Basements can serve as wonderfully useful and convenient additions to a home. You may have converted your own basement into a laundry room, for instance, or added a sink assembly as part of a remodeling upgrade to turn the basement into a hobby room. However, plumbing problems can make your basement inhospitable or even dangerous.
If you want to preserve both your home’s value and your basement’s utility, you need to know what kinds of plumbing problems can cause trouble for this often-ignored subsurface structure. Consider the following questions and answers about the various kinds of plumbing problems that can affect your basement.
What Plumbing Problems Can a Basement Laundry Room Experience?
A basement can make the perfect site for a laundry room, especially if it already offers easy connections to your home’s water heater and plumbing lines. Bear in mind, however, that washing machines can develop mechanical issues as they age, and that some of those issues can leave your basement laundry room flooded.
A laundry room flood may stem from a failed seal or leaks in the hose that goes from the washing machine to the plumbing system, especially if clogs in the hose have caused abnormal pressure buildup. To avoid problems, have your hot and cold water shut off valves to the washing machine installed properly. Floods may also occur if your washing machine pumps more water into your basement drain pipe than the pipe can handle, forcing the water to back up.
Whenever a basement flood involves electrical appliances, you must shut off the power to those appliances as a safety measure to prevent electrocution. If your basement houses a sink or toilet, avoid using these appliances as well until your plumber can identify and fix the underlying problem. A failed laundry pump or sump pump can also cause flooding.
How Can Cold Weather Damage Your Basement Plumbing?
Illinois sees more than its share of frigid weather. As water freezes within plumbing pipes, it expands. The pressure from this expansion can cause plastic or metal pipes to crack or even explode. You can largely avoid this catastrophe by letting your outdoor water lines drain out completely before winter weather hits. On freezing days, let various sinks trickle to prevent pressure buildup.
How Do Sewer Line Blockages Affect the Plumbing in Your Basement?
Your entire home’s plumbing system works as an integrated network of lines, all of which send wastewater out to the main sewer line. Unfortunately, what normally goes out can also come back in. A slow or clogged basement drain line can cause or contribute to such backups, creating problems for the basement and other areas.
If your home’s main sewer line gets clogged, wastewater may bubble up through your basement floor drain whenever you flush the toilet. This problem can occur when the toilet’s line fills up with items it can’t pass easily, or when ingrowing tree roots block the water flow inside the line.
This wastewater may enter your basement drain and then recede without you realizing it. However, if you smell raw sewage in your basement or see bubbles coming up into your toilet, you could have either a clogged basement drain line or a clogged main sewer line. Get these symptoms checked out immediately.
How Do Basement Plumbing Problems Affect Your Home’s Air Quality?
Your home’s plumbing pipes allow for ventilation of sewer gas as well as the movement of water. For this reason, the system needs proper ventilation as well as clear hoses and pipes. Without this ventilation, your family could risk exposure to toxic (and potentially combustible) carbon monoxide in the air.
Even the smallest leaks in your basement plumbing can add unwanted moisture that fosters mold growth. This mold can trigger or aggravate allergies and breathing problems while also damaging the drywall and other surfaces in the basement. If you see (or smell) mold in your basement, schedule a plumbing inspection.
What Can Happen if Your Basement Sump Pump Fails?
When a plumbing malfunction or natural disaster causes your basement to flood, your sump pump should come to the rescue to some extent. This device sits in a pit dug at your home’s lowest point, making the basement a natural location for it. Excess water flows into the pit so the sump pump can drive it into a nearby drain or well.
If you don’t provide your sump pump with regular upkeep, you can’t know for sure whether it will engage and do its job when flooding threatens to destroy your basement. Ask your plumbing technicians to schedule periodic inspections of your entire plumbing system, including the sump pump, and fix any problems that they find. Consider having your plumber install a battery back-up sump pump system as well.
If your basement plumbing presents you with puzzling or worrying questions, rest assured that Jim Dhamer Plumbing and Sewer, Inc., has the answers. Call (630) 964-2222 to schedule a routine plumbing inspection from our experienced technicians or ask for help with a particular basement plumbing problem.