Sewer backups are so damaging that they have cost Canada billions of dollars. In fact, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the costliest natural disaster which occurred in 2013 was the torrential rainfall that flooded towns in southern Alberta. The insured damage was more than $1.72 billion. In the same year, severe thunderstorms in Quebec and Ontario resulted in more than $1.2 billion in insured losses.
Sewer backups are caused by many things such as a clog, tree roots, and broken sewer lines. But they are also the result of weather events. One of the most common causes of sewer backups in the basement is sump pump malfunctions which occur due to poor maintenance.
The Importance of Backwater Valves and Sump Pumps
If you live in an area that receives a lot of rain, a backwater valve or backflow prevention device and a sump pump ensure flood water doesn’t come back up into your basement, flooding and damaging your home.
Backflow occurs when dirty water reverse flows through clean water lines. Typically, sewer systems are gravity-based. When a sudden torrential rainstorm occurs and flushes debris into mainline storm sewers and sanitary sewers, sewer backups occur.
When you have a sump pump and a backwater valve, you can prevent sewage from backing up into your basement. When you place the valve directly into the sewer lateral in your basement, the backwater valve automatically closes when sewage backs up due to an overloaded main sewer line.
Backwater valves are so crucial that they are mandatory in all homes in some cities while other cities offer incentives by subsidizing backwater valve installation by up to a maximum of $1,250.
Maintaining Your Backwater Valve
Because your backwater valve is so important and could potentially save you thousands of dollars in property damage, you should check your backwater valve every 2-3 months. You should also check it any time there is a heavy rainfall forecast.
You want to ensure the valve is functioning correctly and clean of debris that could cause it to malfunction. Check for debris by opening the cap and flushing the valve with a bucket of water or garden hose. Inspect the interior with a flashlight. You may notice substantial blockage such as wads of paper, hair, fat, oil, dental floss, rags, and so on.
If you notice any grease deposits, you should scrub those clean. You can use a toilet brush or other cleaning tools. For tough debris, an environment-friendly solution to toxic commercial cleaners would be white vinegar and warm water. Once you’re done ensuring the valve is free of debris and grease, check the cap’s O-ring has no signs of damage before tightening the cap back in its place securely.
Many homeowners enjoy their basements and turn them into rec rooms or even guest rooms. While your insurance may cover the costs of flood damages; think about the hassle, horror, and heartbreak of watching your home flooded with backwater. Remember that backflow may be contaminated with feces, chemicals, fertilizer, and other contaminants that pose a threat to your family’s health and the environment.
There are contractors that will maintain your valves on an annual basis and will make sure they are working properly.