A floor drain usually doesn't need frequent maintenance. Most households only have floor drains in a few areas — for example, the garage, basement or outdoor patio. These drains are easy to forget about and can become plugged with buildup over time. This encourages rusting since most floor drain covers are made of cast iron or other untreated metals that are susceptible to rust and damage.
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Why Do Floor Drains Rust?
Rust is caused by water contact, so when buildup starts to affect drainage, rusting can begin. Sometimes the rust can grow and spread until the floor drain cover seems attached to the floor around it, making it difficult to remove. There are a couple of things to try to help remove the cover, although keep in mind that in extreme cases, the rust can cause irreparable damage to the floor drain cover itself.
Removing the Floor Drain
First, examine the floor drain cover to see whether it's set into the floor or screwed in. In either case, you'll want to apply rust remover and/or lubricant around the edges of the drain cover and allow it to soak in. If there are screws that have rusted in, allow them to soak for about five minutes and then attempt to remove them with the proper screwdriver. You should wear gloves and eye protection during this part of the project.
Use a flat-head screwdriver to scrape aside enough rust that you can insert the flat metal head into the space between the cover and the floor, then try to pry the drain cover up from the floor. Ideally, parts of the drain cover will start to loosen, and further application of lubricant and prying with the tip of the screwdriver will break the drain cover away from the rust and allow it to be removed.
Removing Different Types of Drains
If this isn't sufficient to release the rusted floor drain cover, examine it closely. If it's a drain cover with holes in it, you can try to use the leverage of a screwdriver in those holes to further pop the drain cover out. AdvantaClean explains that all floor drains are different and that you may need to use other methods.
Alternatively, use a metal coat hanger or other strong material to loop around the holes in the drain cover, then pull, or use the hook end of a hammer to pry the cover loose. Often, repeating these methods with the addition of lubricant and rust remover will eventually loosen the cover. It can require more than a little bit of elbow grease as rust can be very strong, so some cases will need more physical labor.
If the holes in the cover are rusted over or the cover is solid and the entire thing is rusted to the drain or floor, try wedging the flat edge of a flat-head screwdriver between the lid and floor and tapping it with a hammer to attempt to pry the pieces apart. Sometimes the force of the hammer taps will break the rusted surfaces apart. If all else fails, you may have to chip away at the concrete outside of the drain to remove it. This is a much more complicated and expensive task.
Avoiding Rust on Floor Drains
To avoid rusted floor drains, make sure they're checked out every few months for growing damage. Remove the drain cover and scrub it clean; clean the drain line of any visible buildup or plugging. Consider replacing existing floor drain covers with new materials like plastic or treated metal, which are rust-resistant and may have a longer life expectancy.
If rust does make its way onto your drain cover, Home Depot explains that you can remove it with an abrasive tool like steel wool or the head of a flat-head screwdriver as soon as you see it. This will help avoid the need for chemical solutions.