HOME OWNERS

Why are there so many flood events in the news lately?

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The answer, to put it simply, is climate change. Temperatures around the globe are rising and since warmer air can hold more water, a higher volume of rain is falling now as compared to previous decades. To aggravate the situation, increasing populations in urban areas are putting added strain on outdated and undersized municipal drainage systems. The result is an overwhelmed system and sewage that reverses flow through the main sewer line connected to your home.

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Am I at risk?

Absolutely! Sewer backup can affect households in a variety of locations whether urban or rural. You do not need to be on a flood plain to be at risk! Currently, there are 1.7 million  Canadian households at risk with sewer backups outpacing all other types of flooding, with over 47% of the total according to the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. That number is expected to grow year by year.

Sewer backup floods are devastating, not only because the water itself is so damaging to property, but because sewer water carries with it bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and parasites that can cause serious and sometimes deadly health consequences.

Can I protect my home from sewage backup flooding?

Yes, you can. Every house built to Provincial Building Code specifications has a drainage system designed to keep your home’s interior dry. It is up to you to have that system maintained and to keep it functioning and in good working order. Your drainage system includes your roof, eavestrough and downspouts, weeping tile, sump pump, and even the slope of your property. All are important, but the single most effective sewer backup prevention device that you can own is a backwater valve.

What is a backwater valve?

All the waste water from your sinks and toilets exit through your home’s main sewer line to the municipal system. If a heavy rain or flood event should overwhelm the municipal drainage system, sewage water may reverse direction and enter your basement through the main sewer line. A backwater valve is a one-way, free-floating door that works with the weight of sewage water travelling out of the home. When water flowing through the sewage line reverses direction, the door closes and seals, preventing sewage water from entering your basement.

If you do not have a backwater valve installed, then there is nothing preventing sewage water from entering the basement through the main sewer line. Learn more about Backwater Valves. In the event of a sewage backup, your home has no protection. And although the Insurance Bureau of Canada endorses the installation of a backwater valve “as a valuable mitigation technique,” the valve itself is useless if not maintained at regular intervals.

MAINTENANCE PROGRAM

Backwater valves are highly effective but they won’t continue to function correctly if neglected. The Insurance Bureau of Canada agrees. ““We recommend having it inspected by a qualified person on a regular basis.”

How can I be sure my backwater valve will work?

Backwater valves operate in extremely challenging surroundings. As waste water passes through the valve, it leaves residual oil, feces, hair, toilet paper, chemicals, and paint–anything you would flush or drain out of your home. In a matter of months, this waste residue will build up in and around the valve door, preventing it from functioning properly. It is inevitable. If the municipal system should back up, the backwater valve may fail, which will result in a sewer backup.

The very best way to ensure your backwater valve will work as it should and when needed, is to participate in a Water Management Inspection System by a company specializing in backwater valve maintenance. By allowing a technician to clean, inspect and test your backwater valve on a bi-annual basis, you can be assured that your home is protected from sewer backups. You can think of a backwater valve as having two parts: the valve unit, and the mandatory maintenance required to keep it functioning.

Will my insurance cover damages in the event of sewer backup?

Not necessarily. Some insurance companies require special riders that cover for sewer backup damage while others include those types of damages in your general policy. To be sure, you should refer to your insurance contract or speak with your insurance provider. Regardless of how your insurance company covers sewer backup damages, if you have a backwater valve but failed to have it properly maintained, then you may be disqualified from coverage!

Can I afford to have a backwater valve installed?

You can’t afford not to! The cost to install a backwater valve is a fraction of what a sewer backup flood would cost you. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the average cost of a flood incident to the homeowner is approximately $43,000 ++.  That figure does not take into account the physical and mental health cost to you and your family when dealing with a sewage backup damage.

But if you are on a tight budget, there may be help available. More and more municipalities and government bodies are recognizing how critical a backwater valve is to the protection of a home and so have created grant and incentive programs to help homeowners mitigate the cost of installation. As existing programs change and more are created, you would be best served by contacting your municipality for updated information on these programs.

How do I know if I have a backwater valve or not?

All new homes in Ontario built after 2012 are required to have a backwater valve. If your home is older, then you can call Backwater Solutions Canada and one of our technicians will come to your home to assess your drainage system, locate your backwater valve, and see that you are part of a program of regular inspection and maintenance and are fully protected against sewer backup. We can help, Book your Water Management Inspection System