Tiling around rusty old basement floor drain

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Sassnak

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So I've been working on tiling about half of my basement, and I'm finally at the last room which is the utility room. It has an old rusty floor drain that I need to decide what to do with. Despite the rust it still drains fine and I really don't want to have to break into the slab.

The main reason it is so rusty I think is that there were previously 3 layers of flooring - linoleum on the bottom (with asbestos, so I had this all professionally remediated), then stick-on vinyl tiles, then floating sheet vinyl on the top (it was floated on top of a layer of underlayment). They had just (poorly) cut holes around this drain for each layer, so any time water drained in/out of it, it sat in the floor layers around it. Yuck.

If you're wondering why I said flows out of it, that's because this drain is unsurprisingly the first thing to back up when there is a clog in the main line. We have a septic system which is located significantly lower than the house, so backing up from the septic is never going to happen, but for instance we recently had to deal with tree roots and it backed up with bathwater. The lowest place around this drain is under the wall, which leads into a bathroom - so anytime it backs up even a tiny bit, it goes straight under that wall which is less than ideal. The wet floor in the pic is just from me playing around with it a bit.

So my main two questions are, how should I deal with this floor and how should I deal with this drain?

This is in a room about 125 sq ft, but most of the floor is quite flat and does not slope towards this drain at all. Maybe 1-1.5' around it is sloped towards it, and if there is any water coming from behind the washer (to the right) it runs under the wall and then kinda sorta towards this drain - so it isn't well sloped. My inclination is to run tile up the wall in addition to on the floor to prevent water from running under the wall, any other suggestions? I'm also not sure if it would be better to level the slope in the floor (such as it is) or to use a different/smaller tile just around the drain to accommodate the slope. I'm using 6x36" tiles in the rest of the basement/room. The only things near enough to this drain to possibly overflow into it are a utility sink and the washer - my water heater is located across the room where it isn't sloped towards this even a little bit.

Even if I just did the smaller tiles and didn't change the slope though, I'm not sure what if anything I should try and do with this drain since it would be below the level of the tile. Is there a way to replace the rusty grate? Raise the whole thing a bit? Suggestions appreciated!

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John Gayewski

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What I did recently was cut a piece of 3 inch pvc and set it into the drain body. Stand it on end, cut slots into the end its standing on, then the grate will have something to rest on. That'll hold the grate at the right elevation for you, while letting it drain. Clean the grate up with a wire wheel. It almost likes like 4 inch pvc might work for your drain size.

If you wanted you could slope the floor to the drain with cement board and mortar.
 

jadnashua

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Check out www.johnbridge.com for help with tiling. Depending on the slope, you might get by if you cut the long tile into smaller squares and applied them in the order you cut them to keep the pattern.

Keep in mind that tile isn't waterproof, but not damaged if it gets wet. The mortar needs to cure first before you let it get wetted, though.

Are there any cracks in the existing slab? Those would require special handling, and if there are any, and they're at different heights rather than spreading cracks, you should not tile it at all.

You could try a wire wheel on a drill or something similar, but I'm not sure you'll really end up getting it to look good!

After doing that, you might try one of the rust conversion coatings, but I don't have a lot of confidence it would help much. Replacement grates may not be easy to find, but one of the pros may have a better idea on that. This link MIGHT help https://www.grainger.com/search/plu...+drain+grate&searchBar=true&suggestConfigId=6
 

Sassnak

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What I did recently was cut a piece of 3 inch pvc and set it into the drain body. Stand it on end, cut slots into the end its standing on, then the grate will have something to rest on. That'll hold the grate at the right elevation for you, while letting it drain. Clean the grate up with a wire wheel. It almost likes like 4 inch pvc might work for your drain size.

If you wanted you could slope the floor to the drain with cement board and mortar.
That is pretty much what I was thinking of doing for it, I just wasn't sure if it was actually a good idea or not lol. Good to know it worked for you!

As far as sloping the floor goes, I think it'd be more work than it's worth. I have water sensors under everything that could possibly leak, so it'd have to be something catastrophic for me to not catch it before it is really a problem. I don't really expect this drain to get used ever, and now I know to use root killer regularly, so hopefully no more backups either. I just want to keep it useable in case something catastrophic does ever happen.
 

Sassnak

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Check out www.johnbridge.com for help with tiling. Depending on the slope, you might get by if you cut the long tile into smaller squares and applied them in the order you cut them to keep the pattern.

Keep in mind that tile isn't waterproof, but not damaged if it gets wet. The mortar needs to cure first before you let it get wetted, though.

Are there any cracks in the existing slab? Those would require special handling, and if there are any, and they're at different heights rather than spreading cracks, you should not tile it at all.

You could try a wire wheel on a drill or something similar, but I'm not sure you'll really end up getting it to look good!

After doing that, you might try one of the rust conversion coatings, but I don't have a lot of confidence it would help much. Replacement grates may not be easy to find, but one of the pros may have a better idea on that. This link MIGHT help https://www.grainger.com/search/plu...+drain+grate&searchBar=true&suggestConfigId=6

Thanks, I'm comfortable with the actual tiling just trying to decide on if I should keep the slope or flatten it out since the slope isn't terribly useful and the drain doesn't get used normally anyway. But if I flatten it, then I have to raise the drain a bit. I really hate that water wants to go under the wall so easily, the old vanity on the other side is rotted out underneath and I'm going to have to get a good look at the framing in the wall (it is better ventilated though due to some shoddy access openings on the utility side, so might be in better shape). So I do need to find a way to prevent that. It isn't a large sloped area but I think it might be enough of a slope to not be able to easily do the cutting it up into smaller pieces method, but I have plenty of extra tile so maybe I'll just cut some up and play with it. This is the tile I'm putting in, pic is from the first room I did, don't mind the haze pic was taken before the last cleaning:

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The slab is in good shape, no cracks. I did know tile isn't waterproof, but that is actually part of why I thought the drain top/grate should be at the tile level rather than the slab level? It just seems like it would be better to try and keep water on top of the tile, rather than next to exposed tile sides/grout/thinset. I suppose I could caulk the tile around the opening I'd leave for the drain to try and seal it off a bit. I might just be paranoid about this though, after seeing (and smelling) how disgusting it was under that old floating floor (a floating floor around a floor drain is a TERRIBLE idea).

I will definitely try a wire wheel on it, good tip. I'm assuming that I either have to keep that grate, which is falling apart, or cut it off at the hinge and put a different type of grate on it. I don't see any way to get the grate off, but there is so much rust I could be missing something obvious?
 

John Gayewski

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If you scoured the internet you maybe could possibly find a new top for that drain, but then again mostly likely not.

Really the only way to have it look real nice is to have it sandblasted and painted. Or cut it out and start over.
 

Sassnak

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If you scoured the internet you maybe could possibly find a new top for that drain, but then again mostly likely not.

Really the only way to have it look real nice is to have it sandblasted and painted. Or cut it out and start over.
Thanks, I took a look around online and did find an epoxy-coated cast iron grate that is exactly the right size, so I've ordered it. I will clean off the parts of the drain I can get to and maybe try a rust converter on it - pretty sure I have some sitting out in the shed, so it'd be easy enough to try.
 
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