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Old 02-01-2011, 09:31 AM   #1
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Buying a home: basement drain


Good Morning All,
My wife and I are in the process of buying a home and the inspector noticed that what appears to used to be a floor drain in the basement has been sealed with concrete. The floor still slopes toward this center spot in the floor and the condensation line from the AC unit is still pointed at the covered drain. Is this a significant problem? The room houses the washer and dryer, furnace and water heater as well. There is a sump pump that leads from this room to under the floor. If this is something that needs to be addresses would it be an expensive venture to go about opening the drain again?
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Old 02-01-2011, 09:43 AM   #2
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Buying a home: basement drain


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Originally Posted by BelgianWaffle View Post
Good Morning All,
My wife and I are in the process of buying a home and the inspector noticed that what appears to used to be a floor drain in the basement has been sealed with concrete. The floor still slopes toward this center spot in the floor and the condensation line from the AC unit is still pointed at the covered drain. Is this a significant problem? The room houses the washer and dryer, furnace and water heater as well. There is a sump pump that leads from this room to under the floor. If this is something that needs to be addresses would it be an expensive venture to go about opening the drain again?
May or may not be an easy fix, but yes can be a significant problem. If there's a flood where would the water go? It could be as easy as chipping the concrete off the top of the drain or may require jack-hammering up the floor and replacing the drain all together. Depends on how it was sealed.

What would concern me more, is why it was sealed up in the first place? Typically when there's a blockage in the sewer lateral; the point of least resistance (floor drain) in your case, is where sewage would back up into the house. Someone may have sealed it to bandaid a much larger problem.

Post a picture if you can.
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Old 02-01-2011, 01:06 PM   #3
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Buying a home: basement drain


Assuming you haven't bought the house yet, I'd ask for a written explanation from the seller for the reason it was sealed.

If it sounds at all strange, you could ask for a good plumber to inspect the lines and see what was being hidden. You'd have to pay, but it'd be a lot cheaper to find out about it that way. Plus, the seller then has to disclose whatever is found to any other prospective buyers.

I wouldn't re-open the drain without knowing why it was sealed.
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Old 02-01-2011, 01:17 PM   #4
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Buying a home: basement drain


Thanks for the suggestions. I am not particularly concerned about sewage back up for two reasons. My father is the director of public works for the city the house is in and has never had a problem in the area. Additionally I know someone else that lives 2 doors down who has not had any problems. Im sure it is still possible for that to have been the problem but that seems unlikely. I cannot really get an explanation about why because the house now belongs to a trust since the owner died. My guess was that maybe they just had some odor issues? I just can't wrap my head around why they would cover it but still have the AC condensation leading to it...
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Old 02-01-2011, 02:02 PM   #5
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Buying a home: basement drain


If it was covered because of odor issues, that wasn't the way to fix the odors.

Floor drains should have traps below the floor and those traps must be kept full of water to keep the sewer gases from backing up into the property. People usually ignore floor drains and they go dry over time. An air conditioner condensation line will keep the trap full of water in the summer but what about winter?

I think I would have this further investigated by real plumbers.

Sewage backup isn't necessarily an issue but sewer gas is.
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Old 02-01-2011, 05:32 PM   #6
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Buying a home: basement drain


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Thanks for the suggestions. I am not particularly concerned about sewage back up for two reasons. My father is the director of public works for the city the house is in and has never had a problem in the area. Additionally I know someone else that lives 2 doors down who has not had any problems. Im sure it is still possible for that to have been the problem but that seems unlikely. I cannot really get an explanation about why because the house now belongs to a trust since the owner died. My guess was that maybe they just had some odor issues? I just can't wrap my head around why they would cover it but still have the AC condensation leading to it...
With all due respect; your father may be the director of public works, and your neighbor may have never experienced problems, however it may not be the "city main" with the problems. The sewer lateral between the house the street is private. Meaning it belongs to the homeowner. If there's a problem in that line, sewage can back up into your home.

When was the house built?

As others suggested if it was a problem with sewer smells, capping it off isn't (wasn't) the solution.
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