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How to prevent sewer backups?           

Presented by PMT ROY Agency 

Water damage caused by sewer backups in the basement is a nightmare for everyone. A backwater valve can protect you. Here's how it works and why you should install one in your home, if you haven't already.

What causes sewer backup

Sewer backups occur when the sewer system can’t cope with all the runoff. Many factors, either singly or combined, can cause this type of disaster:

  • torrential rain that overwhelms the municipal sewer system
  • pipes between your home and the municipal system that become clogged with debris or grease
  • poorly-leveled ground
  • misaligned gutters.

Whatever the cause, the result is the same: wastewater floods your basement because your plumbing can’t handle the backflow.

How backwater valves prevent sewer backup

A backwater valve is a device that allows water to flow in only one direction – from a dwelling house to a municipal sewer. Some valves are connected to a plumbing fixture like a toilet or sink, while others are connected to drains shared by a laundry room or entire bathroom.

Most backwater valves are of the "normally closed" type: they open, when needed, to let wastewater empty into the municipal sewer and then automatically close to prevent water from flowing in the opposite direction.

Backwater valves are very effective in preventing backflow. Some municipalities have even made backwater valves mandatory. Homeowners who fail to install them often have no recourse against their municipality in the event of sewer backup.

Installing and maintaining a backwater valve

A backwater valve should be installed between the municipal sewer and under-floor drainage pipes and basement plumbing. The valve should be easily accessible for maintenance. If it’s housed in a wall or under the floor, a door, trapdoor or removable panel should be fitted for easy access to the valve. Professional plumbers can do this for you.

It’s essential to inspect and clean the valve once a year to keep it in good working order. Clean the small rocker door on the inside and check for any debris that could prevent the valve from freely opening and closing. Make sure the rubber seal is tight.

If you have any doubts, call in a professional.

What to do in case of sewer backup

A sewer backup can cause considerable property damage. Wastewater also carries bacteria and causes mold. 

Due to the health risks involved, it’s best to hire a specialized company to do the cleanup and restoration work if your sewer system backs up. If you must start the cleanup yourself, take every precaution. First, turn off the electricity to the basement before you go down, especially if standing water’s still there. Wear a mask, gloves, safety goggles and rubber boots. Don’t use your plumbing until the source of the backup has been identified, and, if it’s because of a blocked pipe, wait until the pipe has been unblocked.

Contact Intact Insurance's claims department for advice on how to proceed with your claim and remember to document your losses (with photos, etc.) as soon as it’s totally safe to do so.

Sewer backup and home insurance

Don't forget to notify your insurance representative when installing a backwater valve. To inquire about your current sewer backup coverage, or for any other home insurance advice,  or just to get a quote, contact PMT ROY Damage Insurance Agency.

Certain conditions, restrictions and exclusions apply. This website provides general information only. Your insurance policy contract takes precedence at all times.  

PMT ROY Damage Insurance Agency helps you find the right coverage for your needs. Don't hesitate to contact on of their 100 agents, specialized in Intact Insurance solutions.

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