Basic drain problems: When a fixture like a sink or a toilet or tub won’t drain or drains slowly, there is a blockage somewhere in your system. When it’s only one fixture, the blockage could be in that fixture’s trap. If the blockage is happening at only one fixture, you might be able to repair it yourself by using a plunger or hand auger. (You will often detect a sewer smell when something backs up anywhere in the house).
If the blockage is happening at more than one location, the problem could be in the drain between the fixture and the main line (branch drain line). Again, after locating the line, you might be able to unclog it yourself with a plunger or hand auger, but you might want to call a service professional to clean it out.
If the main drain to the outside from your basement is backing up, the problem is probably somewhere between where your line goes from your house to the main sewer line along your street. Tree roots are a common cause of this problem.
If you determine that the problem is in the main waste line and you don’t have the equipment, you will probably want to hire a service professional to clear your entire system. (It’s a good idea to have this done every few years, anyway.)
If drains or fixtures are clogged in more than one location, it tells your service professional that the leak is probably located in a branch drain line or the main waste line.
Sump basics: A sump pump is used to control groundwater or rainwater in basements. When the water reaches a certain level in the sump (or pit), a float activates a motorized pump that discharges the water elsewhere.
There are basically two types of sumps.
A submersible pump is out of sight and earshot important if the basement is used as a living space. This type is also safer in houses with children. A float activates the pump when water rises to a certain level.
A pedestal pump is less expensive than most submersibles and lasts longer because it doesn’t sit in the water: A float mechanism rises as the tank fills with water, switching the pump on automatically. You’ll usually find sumps in the lowest part of your basement or crawl space.