Backwater Valves: Your First Defense Against Basement flooding

Your basement can be flooded from a variety of different sources: it can be the sanitary drain, the storm drain, your weeping tiles, or it can be a faulty sump pump, a burst water pipe… The list goes on. Wherever the source and whatever the cause, however, the end result is pretty much the same – damage to your house, your appliances, your possessions and your precious memories.

It is no surprise, then, that a frequent query we hear from homeowners is, ‘how can I protect my house against flooding. Late winter in the GTA, when that mountain of snow starts to melt, and freezing rain begins to pour, is when a lot of homeowners start to take stock of their plumbing.

Honestly, the very best way you can avoid basement flooding – simply from a homeowner’s perspective – is to bring in an expert plumber in Toronto you can rely on to implement preventative measures. It sounds like the obvious answer, but you would be surprised how many homeowners neglect to think about basement flooding until it’s too late.

On one level, it’s understandable: why throw money at an issue you aren’t sure will happen? But on a risk analysis level, it’s better to put up the (comparatively) little amount of money to proactively prevent the issue, than the large sum it might take to repair the damage, should an emergency occur.  

As mentioned, there are numerous reasons for a flooded basement. For our purposes however, in this post we’ll be looking at the sanitary drain, which is a topic that rears its head for a lot of homeowners, because it is complex system that involves both private responsibilities and city responsibilities. A leading cause of flooding in homes, it pays for homeowners to be well informed on matters concerning their sanitary drain and sewer.

There is one measure in particular that Toronto homeowners can look into if they want to reduce the risk of basement flooding: backwater valve installation services for your drain. In this post, we’ll discuss your sanitary drain and sewer, detailing both the private and city portions of it, and then talk about why a backwater valve is an effective first line of defense.

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Private vs. City Sanitary Drains

Let’s talk about your sanitary drain and sewer, and all the little nuances and unique difficulties that come with the territory. Because the private side of the pipe is located underground, it must be checked by a special scope or sewer camera, approximately every one or two years. Cameras can detect broken spots, shifts, root penetration, cracks, depressions… any major problems that have to be resolved in order for it to function properly.

But even if your private drains and sewers are in satisfactory condition, your basement can still be flooded if a problem occurs with the city municipal main drain on your street.

The issues on the private side that cause sewage backup are within a homeowner’s control; you can just stop using plumbing fixtures and call for plumbers’ help. On the other hand, an issue on the city side is beyond a homeowner’s control. You can’t run out into the street asking every neighbour to stop using his or her toilets – it is impossible. In this case, you have to call 311, and a city crew (that is available 24/7) can come to fix the pipes.

So there’s the solution to a problem with the city side, but can you ever effectively prevent an issue from the city side? As we’ll learn in just a moment, yes you can.

Backwater Valves to the Rescue

The only one device that can be installed in a building drain to prevent backup from the city side is a backwater valve. If you’re unfamiliar with how a backwater valve works, it’s actually pretty easy to understand. The valve itself has a normally open gate that activates and closes in case of back flow, meaning that water won’t have a chance to back up… usually.

Some people think if they’ve install backwater valve, they will never have problems with the sewer, but that is simply not true. The pipes within your private side have to be in good working condition too, as does the valve itself. We can maintain or fix your backwater valve as well as your pipes, to ensure everything works in top shape. In the picture below, you can see a backwater valve that was installed near the front foundation wall to protect ALL of the plumbing fixtures in the basement.

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After a restoration of the floor, access lids were installed for maintenance. The lids can easily be removed for routine cleaning, and any inspections that the valve may need can be swiftly performed. This is a recommended addition for all homeowners serious about avoiding flooding. You know you can call us for backwater valve help anytime but you still might wonder about the cost of such an installation. Well, there’s good news there.

Torontonians are lucky to have a subsidy program for backwater valve installation with a maximum rebate of $1250. Such work has to be done with a building permit and an authorized plumbing contractor, as Mister Plumber is. Here is the official City of Toronto page that details the program, and can explain how to apply. You might as well save some money while you protect your home, right?

And when you choose an authorized plumbing contractor, go with us. Mister Plumber has a lot of years of experience in the installation of flood protection devices. Call us anytime to get the best professional plumbing and drain services in the GTA.

Remember, though, that the sanitary drain is only one of many sources of flooding in the GTA. In our next post, we will discuss how to protect your basement from other sources of flooding, so stay tuned to this blog for more helpful homeowner information. And, when your plumbing is in doubt, remember to call in the experts – 24 hours a day, we’re on call to help the GTA.