How to Clean a Basement Walkout Drain

How to Clean a Basement Walkout Drain

Have you ever experienced the dreaded scenario where your basement walkout drain gets clogged, leading to water pooling around your home’s foundation? If you have, you’re not alone. A clogged basement walkout drain can be a real headache, causing water damage and potentially costing you a pretty penny in repairs. But fear not, because, in this comprehensive guide, we’re going to walk you through the process of cleaning your basement walkout drain step by step.

Think of your basement walkout drain as the unsung hero of your home’s drainage system. It plays a crucial role in directing rainwater and other runoff away from your foundation, preventing water from seeping into your basement. However, over time, debris, leaves, dirt, and even small critters can accumulate in the drain, obstructing the flow of water. When this happens, it’s essential to roll up your sleeves and give it a good clean to keep everything flowing smoothly.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to tackle this task successfully. We’ll explore the tools and materials you’ll need, walk you through the cleaning process, and provide tips and tricks to make the job easier. So, let’s get started on this DIY adventure to ensure your basement walkout drain is in tip-top shape!

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Before we dive into the cleaning process, let’s gather the essential tools and materials you’ll need. Having the right equipment on hand will make the job smoother and more efficient. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  1. Safety Gear:
    • Rubber gloves
    • Safety goggles
    • Dust mask (optional)
  2. Cleaning Tools:
    • Garden spade or shovel
    • Rake or broom
    • Bucket or wheelbarrow
    • Garden hose with a high-pressure nozzle attachment
    • Plumbing snake or drain auger
    • Wire brush or stiff bristle brush
    • Scraper or putty knife
    • Shop vacuum or wet/dry vacuum
  3. Cleaning Supplies:
    • Baking soda
    • Vinegar
    • Mild dish soap
    • Boiling water
    • Bleach (optional, for disinfection)
  4. Maintenance Items (Optional):
    • Grate or drain cover
    • Splash block or downspout extension

With your toolbox ready, it’s time to tackle that clogged basement walkout drain.

Step 1: Safety First

Before you begin, remember to prioritize safety. Put on your rubber gloves, safety goggles, and, if you’re working in a dusty area, a dust mask. Dealing with debris and stagnant water can be messy, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Step 2: Remove Debris and Obstructions

Remove Debris and Obstructions to Clean a Basement Walkout Drain

Now that you’re geared up, let’s start by removing any visible debris or obstructions from the drain’s surface. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Using a garden spade or shovel, gently scoop out any leaves, twigs, dirt, or other debris that has accumulated on top of the drain grate. Be careful not to push debris further into the drain.
  2. Sweep the area around the drain using a rake or broom to collect any loose debris. Dispose of this waste in a bucket or wheelbarrow.
  3. Lift the drain grate if possible and inspect the interior of the drain. Remove any additional debris or blockages that you can reach with your gloved hands. If there’s a lot of gunk down there, consider using a shop vacuum to suck it out.

Step 3: High-Pressure Rinse

Now that you’ve cleared away the surface debris, it’s time to give your drain a high-pressure rinse. This step is essential for dislodging stubborn dirt, sediment, and smaller debris that may be clinging to the drain’s interior.

  1. Attach a high-pressure nozzle to your garden hose.
  2. Position the nozzle inside the drain opening and turn on the water. Use the high-pressure stream to blast away any remaining dirt and debris. Make sure to direct the water flow downward into the drain to avoid splashing.
  3. Continue rinsing until the water flows freely through the drain and no more debris is coming out. This step can be quite satisfying as you witness the gunk being washed away.

Step 4: Snaking the Drain

If you still have a clog that won’t budge after the high-pressure rinse, it’s time to bring out the plumbing snake or drain auger. This tool is your secret weapon for tackling deeper blockages.

  1. Insert the plumbing snake or drain auger into the drain opening. Slowly crank the handle clockwise while gently pushing the cable further into the drain.
  2. Keep feeding the cable into the drain until you feel resistance. This resistance is likely the clog. Apply gentle pressure and continue rotating the snake to break up and dislodge the obstruction.
  3. Once you’ve broken through the clog, slowly retract the cable, ensuring that you bring the loosened debris with it.
  4. Repeat this process as needed until the drain is clear and water flows freely.

Step 5: Scrub and Disinfect

Now that your drain is free of major obstructions, it’s time to give it a thorough cleaning to prevent future clogs and maintain proper drainage.

  1. Mix a solution of warm water and mild dish soap in a bucket.
  2. Dip a stiff-bristle brush or wire brush into the soapy water and scrub the interior of the drain, paying special attention to the sides and bottom.
  3. Use a scraper or putty knife to remove any stubborn deposits or mineral buildup from the drain’s surface.
  4. Rinse the drain thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.

Optional: To disinfect the drain and kill any bacteria or mold, you can pour a mixture of one part bleach and ten parts water into the drain. Allow it to sit for about 10-15 minutes before rinsing it away with copious amounts of water.

Step 6: Final Rinse

Give your freshly cleaned basement walkout drain one more thorough rinse to ensure it’s completely clear of any cleaning residues or lingering debris.

  1. Use your garden hose with the high-pressure nozzle attachment to flush the drain with plenty of clean water. This will help wash away any remaining particles and leave your drain squeaky clean.
  2. Ensure that the water flows smoothly and doesn’t back up. If you notice any issues, revisit the drain with your plumbing snake or auger to make sure there are no hidden blockages.

Maintenance Tips

Maintenance Tips

Congratulations! Your basement walkout drain is now clean and free-flowing. To keep it that way and prevent future clogs, consider implementing these maintenance tips:

  1. Install a Grate or Drain Cover: To prevent leaves and debris from entering the drain, consider installing a grate or drain cover. These barriers allow water to flow while keeping larger objects out.
  2. Regularly Clean Gutters and Downspouts: Keep your gutters and downspouts clean to minimize the amount of debris that can find its way into the walkout drain. Clogged gutters often lead to clogged drains.
  3. Use a Splash Block or Downspout Extension: Redirect rainwater away from the foundation of your home by using a splash block or downspout extension. This can help minimize the amount of water that enters the drain.
  4. Schedule Annual Cleanings: Make a habit of inspecting and cleaning your basement walkout drain at least once a year, especially before the rainy season. Regular maintenance can prevent major blockages and costly repairs down the road.
  5. Be Mindful of Landscaping: Avoid planting trees or shrubs with invasive root systems near your walkout drain. Tree roots can infiltrate and block the drainage system over time.


Cleaning your basement walkout drain is a straightforward yet essential task that can save you from costly repairs and water damage to your home’s foundation. With the right tools, materials, and elbow grease, you can easily keep this vital part of your drainage system in tip-top shape. Remember to prioritize safety, follow the steps outlined in this guide, and consider regular maintenance to prevent future clogs. Your clean and efficient basement walkout drain will ensure that rainwater flows away from your home as smoothly as a well-oiled machine, keeping your basement dry and your worries at bay.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I use chemical drain cleaners to unclog my basement walkout drain?

It’s generally not recommended to use chemical drain cleaners on outdoor drains, as these harsh chemicals can harm the environment. Stick to mechanical methods like snaking and high-pressure rinsing for outdoor drains.

How can I prevent my basement walkout drain from getting clogged in the first place?

Installing a grate or drain cover, keeping your gutters and downspouts clean, and using splash blocks or downspout extensions can all help prevent clogs. Regular maintenance is key.

What should I do if my basement walkout drain is still clogged after following these steps?

If you’ve tried cleaning the drain and it’s still clogged, or if you suspect a more severe issue like a damaged pipe, it’s best to consult a professional plumber or drainage expert for a thorough inspection and repair.

Can I use a pressure washer to clean my basement walkout drain?

While it’s possible to use a pressure washer, it’s important to exercise caution. High-pressure water can damage older pipes or dislodge them. Start with lower pressure and gradually increase it if necessary.

Is it necessary to wear safety gear when cleaning the basement walkout drain?

Yes, wearing safety gear, including rubber gloves, safety goggles, and a dust mask if needed, is crucial to protect yourself from potential hazards such as debris, chemicals, or splashing water.

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