Are You Protected by a Backwater Valve?

February 4, 2019 Brendan Ellingham

There’s nothing worse than a flooded basement. Well, actually there is – when the source of that flooded basement is from a sewer line backup. The damage can be devastating. And the situation can present health concerns to those living in the home. It’s a nightmare many homeowners have faced and it’s becoming an increasing issue – especially in older, urban areas.

Cracked sewer piping is often the culprit of these backups. Ground water, especially during heavy rainfalls, seeps into the sewer lines and it becomes overwhelmed. Another concern is the accumulation of Fats, Oils and Grease – often referred to as FOG - in the sewer system; it hardens and combines with other debris to cause clogs. And when that sewage has nowhere else to go, it’s forced back up the lines. Far too often it’s a situation that’s discovered when a homeowner opens their basement door.

There is a solution. It’s called a Backwater Valve. These devices prevent drains from backing up into the home or building. The valve is equipped with a flap system that will open and close with the direction of the water; only allowing water and sewage to flow one way – out. Especially for homes in flood-sensitive areas, this can provide a homeowner with some assurances that they’re protected against back-ups and, in-turn, a great deal of peace-of-mind.

As with any home improvement or security feature, there is a cost. And depending on when installation occurs, this cost can vary. It’s becoming a growing (and advisable) trend that municipalities are requiring Backwater Valves to be installed during construction. This eases the cost significantly. Installation during construction can be done for approximately $200. But, costs increase significantly when the installation is a retrofit of an already-constructed home. And the inconvenience and effort is dialed up even more if the basement has already been finished. Depending on the layout of the drain piping, The cost of this project in an unfinished basement would be in the approx. $1,000 to $2,000 range. For most homeowners, this is a significant investment – one that they probably aren’t overly enthused about making. But, especially for those in areas of even minor risk, it’s well worth the price.


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