How to Clean a Footer Drain

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Things You'll Need

  • Heavy, rubber work gloves

  • Plumbing auger snake

  • Crowbar (optional)

Cleaning a footer drain helps prevent basement flooding and property water damage. The footer drains on a property are usually invisible, as they are placed underneath the concrete foundation. They direct rainwater and excessive water away from the house's foundation and into the sanitary lead, which is the main drain pipe leading away from the building. Over time, the footer drains can become clogged with dirt and other debris, reducing their effectiveness and possibly creating a backup that may spill out of the cleanout in the basement.


Step 1

Open the footer drain cleanout. This can usually be found in the basement floor or on a small pipe that extends a few inches above the basement floor. The grill on top of the drain should pull off, but a crowbar can be used to pry it loose if it sticks too much.

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Step 2

Put on the work gloves and clear the drain by hand as much as possible.


Step 3

Feed the plumbing auger snake into the drain until an obstruction is reached. Twist the handle on the auger until it extends another 18 inches, then pull the snake out slowly so that as much debris as possible is removed with it.

Step 4

Remove the rest of the debris by hand. Make sure to wear the work gloves whenever reaching into the pipe.


Step 5

Continue the process with the auger snake until all of the debris is cleared or the length of the auger snake is reached.

Step 6

Replace the grill on top of the drain cleanout.


If an obstacle is reached that blocks the auger snake, a professional drain cleaner will need to be contacted. Sometimes concrete can break off or tree roots can penetrate the drain pipe, both of which require extensive work to clear.


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