Rusted Basement Floor Drain Cover Will Not Budge

A basement floor drain cover prevents items that may clog the drain from entering it, including lint, wet paper or hair in gray water discharged from a washing machine. The cover also keeps items from falling into the drain, such as toys and tools. Basement floor drain covers sometimes rust. The rust may be so severe that it causes the drain cover to "freeze" into place, making it almost impossible to remove.

Rusted metal surface
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Rust can cause a basement floor drain cover to stick.

Reasons

Basement floor drain covers are often made of cast iron, which is susceptible to rust. If the cover is beneath standing water for a period of time, it will rust. This often happens when a basement floods due to melting rain or snow, or when the drain clogs and gray water backs up into the basement. A damp basement may also cause a drain cover to rust.

Removal

If the screws that hold the drain cover in place are rusted, spray them with rust solvent or apply penetrating oil; wait a few minutes then try to remove the screws. If the entire cover is rusted to the drain, use a flat head screwdriver to scrape around the edge of the cover and remove as much rust as you can then tap round the edge with a hammer to try to loosen the cover. Insert a crowbar or spade under the edge of the cover to lift it or wrap a metal hook or a piece of strong wire through the cover's holes to use as a handle then try to lift the cover. In extreme cases, the use of a jackhammer may be necessary to remove the concrete from around the drain cover, which may also require replacing the drain.

Replacement

Consider installing a plastic basement floor drain cover as a replacement. Plastic covers are constructed of polypropylene. Not only do they provide the protection required for a basement drain, they also have the advantages of being resistant to rust and corrosion and less expensive than cast iron drain covers. The material is sturdy and will last for years.

Prevention

Regardless of the material you choose for the drain cover, regular care will extend its life. Remove the drain cover at least once a year and clean it. Use a wire brush and a mild detergent and make sure all of the drain's holes are clear. Allow the drain cover to dry thoroughly before reinstalling it. Inspect the drain cover screws for rust before replacing them. Consider setting up a dehumidifier in your basement to ensure the drain cover will not be subjected to prolonged periods of moisture.