What Are The Types Of Floor Drains? [Answered]


Have you ever caught water standing somewhere in your toilet, cringed, and wished you could just get it out of the way?

Water can enter your house when you least expect it. It could be from a pipe leak or leaking air conditioning system or laundry machine failure or even through wall cracks. Getting this water out of your home can be challenging without a floor drain. With a floor drain, you can easily channel the water away from your home.

floor drain

Floor drains come in different types based on different criteria. As a homeowner, it can be challenging choosing which floor drain is right for you, especially if you do not know how they work and where they fit best in the house.

For your convenience, we have put together a concise list of the types of floor drains and their uses. However, in summary, floor drains include the floor types:

  • Types of floor drain based on operation and function
  • Types of floor drain based on design
  • Types of floor drain based on location and placement

Types Of Floor Drain Based On Operation and Function

A floor drain is either a wastewater drain or a groundwater drain. Wastewater drain brings water into pipes that are connected to the home’s sewage system. Groundwater drain guides the water to pipes that transport the water outside the house.

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Floor drains channel water out of your home either to the sewage system or to a groundwater option. They work effectively in areas of the home that are gently sloped. Therefore, areas in the home where floor drains need to be installed must be gently sloping towards the drains.

Wastewater Drain

A wastewater drain takes dirty or floor water out of your home to your sewage systems through pipes in the drain. Because bad odour can escape from sewage systems into your home through a floor drain, traps must be installed in the drain. Traps hold water that stops sewage odour from passing through drain pipes and entering your home. In addition, they’ve vent pipes that link to all the toilets and bathrooms in the home, which carry any sewage odour up to the roof or outside the house.

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Examples of traps in plumbing include P trap, gully trap, S trap and Q trap.

Sometimes, traps can run out of water. When this happens, sewage odour will enter your house. You can prevent this by installing a wastewater drain with a trap that has a water line. The water line is a water primer that adds water when the water in the traps evaporates. It ensures that there’s always water in the trap and prevents odour from getting into your home.


  • Wastewater flows out of the house easily
  • When the ground outside your home is filled with water, this type of drain is unaffected because it is connected to your sewage system.


  • Some municipalities allow homeowners to use one drain pipe for human sewage and wastewater. However, this can overwhelm the pipes, especially during rainy periods, resulting in raw sewage backing up into your home.
  • Upgrading from a one-pipe system to a two-pipe system is expensive.

Groundwater Drain

These drains carry water from inside your house to outside your house. The water is dumped into the soil away from the foundation. Because groundwater drains are not connected to the sewer system, they do not need traps.


  • Groundwater drains keep the soil nourished with water from inside the house.
  • Because they require no traps or vents, groundwater drains are more affordable for homeowners living on a budget.


  • If the ground outside is saturated with water, water from the groundwater drain may not drain properly.
  • They can get clogged by growing tree roots over time. Even older pipes can crack as a result of thawing or freezing, particularly in colder.
  • PVC pipes in new homes can also be affected by tree roots, leading to a clog.

Types Of Floor Drains Based On Design

Box Drains

These are the most common types of floor drains. Box drains are square-shaped — though some can be round too — and can be used as both a wastewater drain and groundwater drain. Box drains have a grate over a box that holds water beneath the floor until it can move through the pipes. Some have baskets that catch debris or obstacles like human hair.

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Many homeowners use a box drain for their showers. Since this box drains collect debris like human hair, which can easily clog or block the drain system, they need to be clean often. Shower box drains can be rectangular or round.

Baseboard Drains

These drains are mostly found in older homes or in homes that have experienced flooding before and need more drainage options. Baseboard drains gather wastewater and channel it to a pipe in the baseboard. This water is moved out through a pipe that leads outside of the house.

Baseboard drains can easily be added to floors where drains are absent. They are inexpensive to install and can be added to floors without tearing up the floor.

Although they’re cheap to install, baseboard drains aren’t a good long-term option for homeowners looking for drains that save money and last a long time. Water hardly flows into a baseboard drain until it has spread across the entire floor, making it a short-term option.

Foundation Drains

Unlike baseboard and box drains which are visible, foundation drains are hidden under the home foundation. Foundation drains are a special kind of floor drain. They absorb water under the house and channel it to the pipe for either wastewater drain or groundwater drain.

Types Of Floor Drains Based On Location And Placement

There are various types of drainage systems and they’ve different roles and functions. We have described the drainage system below and how they work to help you understand.

All four types of drainage systems can be combined to remove water and guide it to an appropriate place. It doesn’t matter how they’re combined. What matters is that these drainage systems are getting volumes of water away from the ground surface, making them an essential part of water conservation and preservation.

Surface Drainage System

Surface drainage removes excess water from the land’s surface via channels and ditches. To ease the flow of water into the drainage, some ground surfaces are sloped toward the surface drainage.

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We have different types of surface drainage. They are humps and hollows, open drains, levees, and grassed waterways.

Subsurface Drainage System

They are installed beneath the top layer of the soil. Subsurface drains are sometimes called French drains and work at the base level to remove excess water.

Slope Drainage System

They are built to allow water to flow from a structure down and towards the drain. The slope drainage system can be constructed with pipes. These pipes are laid in an inclined manner and help collect dirty water from the ground surface into the drain.

Downspouts and Gutters

Gutters and spouts are among the most common drains out there. They are a system’s first defence against standing water and overflow from storms. Water is often drained into aluminium extension, rain barrel or buried drainpipe. Downspouts and gutters are sometimes connected to an underground sewer line. Their single purpose is to move water away from the ground surface and direct water to other drainage systems.

Bottom Line

Drainage systems are an essential part of every community’s water system. Without them, it would be difficult to rid the ground floor of surface water that may occur as a result of a flood from rain. Drainage systems can be in form of gutters and downspouts, which often act as a structure’s first line of defence against flood.
The drainage system can be hidden under the surface like the subsurface drains.

Floors drains are a perfect example of a surface drainage system. They can act as either a groundwater drain or a wastewater drain. Wastewater drains are connected to the sewage system. They transport wastewater from the house to the sewer.
Groundwater drains, on the other hand, guide the water to pipes that transport the water outside the house.


Understanding the Types of Drainage Systems

4 Types Of Floor Drains To Know