Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Basement water backups?

Installing a backwater valve may be the answer to your troubled waters.

Recently, we came home to a major problem in our basement shower – bits of toilet paper and raw sewage had gurgled up from the drain while we were away. “Yuck” is a major understatement. “Gross me to the max” is more fitting, even if it is straight out of 1983. When unmentionables are oozing into one’s shower, pride runs right out the door.

Even though our sewage experience was foul, we were lucky; the backflow seepage was contained to our shower (that 4″ curb does more than just hold the shower door up) and only damaged our dignity. It could’ve been much worse.

What Causes Backflow?
In our case, a clogged drain line is the culprit — this is a good time to re-state our favorite phrase: “If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t flush it.” When the line is obstructed, the sewage has no option other than to flow backwards, back through the drain line and into your home or business. Usually, nasties floating around the floor drain are the big indicator.

In other cases, such as during periods of excessive rain, it’s possible for municipal sewage or storm water systems to become overloaded (i.e., such as during the recent floods). When that happens, waste water is forced backwards through the drainage system.

Preventing Backflow: Inexpensive and Simple
By installing a backwater valve, sewage backups are easily preventable – they won’t fix the clog, but they will prevent damage to your carpeting, furniture, sense of cleanliness, and other areas.

What is a Backwater Valve?
According to www.plumbinghelp.ca, “A backwater valve is a one way flow control valve installed in a drainage system, that under normal conditions allows the waste water to drain out of the system. If, however, a reversed flow of drainage water should occur, the valve will be forced closed and protect the interior of the building from sewage backup.”

When are backwater valves required?
In new construction, backwater valves are required in below grade applications – that means basements or living areas that may be partially below grade (such as in a split level home). The experts at www.plumbinghelp.ca note that “The most common backwater points of entry into your home may be through basement floor drains, water closets/toilets, sinks, laundry standpipes and sump pits.” Word.

Backflow Prevention Sounds Perfect! How do I Get On Board?
First, check to see if you already have a backflow valve already installed. Open your floor drain cover and perform a visual inspection. If you don’t see one, it’s possible that you may not need one – especially if sewage backups rarely happen in your area. On the flip side, if you’ve experienced a backup and want to avoid more, a backwater valve is a relatively inexpensive insurance plan.

Water You Waiting For? Backwater valves can be easily installed (usually) by handy homeowners, but if you have questions or would like to learn more about how backflow valves work and if there is a need for such valves in the Greater Cincinnati and Dayton area, Ray is available to answer your questions. Call today: (513) 396-5300.