Do you always test floor drains?

Hi guys,

Just wondering if it’s a part of your normal inspection to pour a bucket of water down the floor drain in the basement to check for proper drainage.

And on that note, if you didn’t, and the new owners came back to you saying it wasn’t draining, would you be responsible for the repair? For example, if the trap was damaged and needed to be dug out of the concrete and replaced…

Thanks for any feedback on this procedure and on this case scenario.


I don’t typically test floor drains but I let them know that in my report also.

A bucket of water won’t let you know if there is a slow clog out between the house and street…or any other place that can accept that amount of water and not back up through the floor drain.

Checking the sump pump is big.

Just look for signs of standing water .

If there is a walkway , look for signs of sidewalk collapse from broken drain tile.

Yes I check floor drains I carry a hose for the washing machine stand pipe and floor drains. One can generaly tell how much pipe is in use from the floor drain to the main in a basement very easy to tell if blockage is in the drain/drain line or the main.

Thanks for the feedback guys. While there could be problems further down the drain system, I would think that at least checking that water drains beyond the basement floor drain trap would be a good idea. And of course, like Larry says, including a statement in the report regarding to what extent the drain was tested.
Charley, do you attach a hose to a laundry tub or something then, to direct water into the washing machine stand pipe and the floor drain?

Thanks again,

But flushing the toilet (s) multiple times may.

I don’t test them per say except to look at them and report what is seen…


It’s been awhile Charlie however I’ve had several here state sticking a hose down the washer drain pipe is inconclusive and would take more than a few mins for any back flow to jet out your way. What’s your thoughts?

Billy that would be correct a few minutes does not cut it with me I am a water hog one thing I know when I leave a inspection the main drain is flowing as intended. I run water from all faucets and drains for at least two hours of my inspection time enough to flood any main drain line, if the main was blocked at the city connection a few minutes of running water would never detect this.

There generally is always a water outlet of some sort within the basement and I will use what ever is available to check the floor drains.

I don’t test them but if there are trees on the road side of the house I make a note that rootering may be required in the future.

Thanks for the comments. Since the Standards ask us to inspect the drain system, I’m wondering how that applies to a basement floor drain. Is a visual inspection all that is REQUIRED? And pouring any water what so ever down the floor drain then goes beyond the Standards?
Picture someone who moves into their home, and on the first day they decide to mop the basement concrete floor, and realize that the water isn’t draining at all down the floor drain…
We can’t comment on the condition of the main drain, can’t inspect it. But, should we at least EITHER test and report that the floor drain APPEARS to drain, OR only perform the visual inspection and have this limitation written in the report?

I guess I’m asking, do the Standards actually require us to do more than a visual inspection of the floor drain, or is that all it requires?

Thanks again!!!


It’s a good question and a grey area. I’ve started a poll.

And homeowners and realtors think that I’m excessive for doing it up to 45 minutes on a private well / septic system … :shock:

Thanks John, as someone who’s just getting started, I’m very interested in learning about the inspection procedures of others.


Here is my boiler plate verbatum

Water was discharged down all of the outlet for a period in excess of one hour and no blockage was observed at any fixture at the time of inspection.

In all reality I have water running the duration of the time spent within the home itself 2 hours. I have spanked realtors for turning off my faucets they know better after the first time GRRRRRR

I turn on the water in all the baths for a period of time, If there was stopage it would probably show up then. For good measure I dump 1 gallon of water down the floor drain and watch the level if possible. Every once in a while I run into an indirect and it puts me off my procedure and I have to use 2 gallons.

What’s that.

What is your procedure. Do you leave taps running unsupervised in bathrooms. What if the drain line was indeed blocked and the sink overflowed causing significant consequential damage - who would pay?
Would the blame not fall on your procedure since it seems to be significantly different from what others do?

John I take control of the water flow use my eyes and ears while I am inspecting the bathroom the lavatory will be flowing first and I will know before I leave the bathroom if it is draining slow or has proper drainage. The lavatory is the highest drain line connection in the bathroom and is not going to overflow because the main is stopped up the tub and commode are the lowest point in the drainage system and water will back into the tub before the lavatory and I do leave it unsupervised but I am in the area checking bedrooms and am in and out of the bathroom checking on the tub water has a different sound when hitting the bottom of the tub than it does when hitting water as if when the tub was backing up and I alway have my ears tuned for that sound while in the bedrooms. I shut my water flow down while I am in the attic I don’t inspect in the attic with water running in the home. Crawl space different story I always do that last if present and I will know if the main is flowing before I enter the crawl and I leave the water running while in the crawl same with a basement all water is flowing while I check the basement drainage lines.

Up stairs bathrooms slow leaks on tub drains and or shower pans are not going to be detected with a small amount of water I run a lot of water upstairs and if over the course of the inspection water appears on the downstairs ceiling so be it failed during test Owners responsibility not mine My SOP requires me to check the drainage it does not state How I do it

Thanks Charlie. Seems like a good procedure.

I do the same as Charlie. Don’t run the water for 2 yrs however I do run for a great period of time and I always check basements and crawls while water is running from all faucets full blast once I determine no stops exist. All drains must be flowing fine before I deam safe to leave them unattended.