How to avoid sewer back up

In recent weeks there has been an increase in the number of occurrences of sanitary sewer and water backups. A sewer back up is accompanied by foul smells and can cause sever damage to the interior of your building with a potential follow up of mold.

It is important that the backwater valve be checked on your plumbing system. The backwater valve is used to prevent this sewer waste and water coming in through the sanitary and storm sewer lines, basement drains and other plumbing lines that might be connected to the septic system or sewer laterals.

A backwater valve has a flap or a gate that is hinged on top. Wear and tear on the flap due to the constant flow of sewage opening the flap may become worn and not close as tightly. Over time a build up of effluent could help to keep the flap slightly open and a water surge in the line could stream backwards, though the opening and into your home or building.

It has been suggest that the Mainline Fullport Backwater Valve gate is hinged on the bottom and floats up and into the closed position when sewage or water flow is reversed. The flow channels on the body and gate are designed to prevent a build up of debris beneath the gate. This keeps the valve open allowing a free flow of air for venting and the effluent does not clog up. This valve has the advantage of installation can be in the main drain of the building and not exclusively on a branch line. This can help eliminate or at least reduce the lateral excavation costs on the site or at the street.

Research shows that the Mainline Fullport Backwater Valve is widely used all across Canada. The diagram shown in the link below illustrates the working principal of the unit which is CSA certified Reference: CAN/CSA-B181. 1-M90 and is for use in horizontal pipe runs to building drains, floor drains, holding tanks, sewers, etc.

It is important to note that with all types of values your monitoring and maintenance is very important. You should consult with a plumbing professional prior to installing any backwater valve. If your building is in an area with a high water table, is a known flood zone, is on a town or city sewer line or down gradient of a separate or combined sanitary sewer line or storm line or is otherwise on a grade that may promote sewer or surface water back up through drains you should seek advice on the installation of an appropriate backwater valve.

As a homeowner there are other things you can do to help prevent water problems. Some of them include:

  • Check for and repair leaks in foundations, walls, windows and floors.
  • Check and clear eavestroughs and downspouts of small branches, leaves and other debris that prevent proper drainage. How far out do your downspouts go from the house? Buy a longer length but make sure it is at least six feet from the basement walls.
  • Install other devices for water proofing such as sump pumps, alarms that sense moisture, and floor drains or caps. Be sure to check that these items are working correctly on a routine basis. During heavy rains be sure to keep an eye on the sump pump to be sure it is not being overworked.
  • Consider your landscaping. If you plant trees and other native species then they should act as a natural barrier to some water problems. Be careful with tree roots being too close to the house or water lines. Part of your landscaping can be to create a garden away from the home where the storm water is directed. This lower ground area can pool water safely away from the home. This minimizes the water going directly into the local sewer systems and decreases your watering needs for that area.


Information is based in part on news release
Ecclesiastical Insurance Marketwire January 23, 2009

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