Installing a backwater valve in your home could be the single best way to protect yourself from costly sewer back-up insurance claims.
A backwater valve is an extremely important component of any home’s plumbing system. If you have one installed in your home, that’s great! However, you should be familiar with how they operate so you can ensure yours is working properly. On the other hand, if you don’t have a backwater valve, we’re about to tell you exactly what you’re missing.
What is a backwater valve
It is mechanically a one-way valve meaning it will only allow the flow of water in one direction. Typically, backwater valves are installed on the main drain of the home. Adding a backwater valve on new construction will only cost around $200 to $300. However, retrofitting a backwater valve after a home is built will require the work of a professional contractor. In order to access the main sewer line, you will need to cut a hole in the concrete inside the home. Then, once the line is exposed, it can be cut to allow for the installation of the valve. Obviously, this is a little more labour intensive, and can cost upwards of $2000.
How does it help?
Basically, backwater valves will prevent any sewer waste from overflowing or backing up into your home. Having a properly functioning backwater valve installed could drastically reduce damage, or even eliminate basement disasters all together. As a result, you could avoid extensive damage to your home, and expensive water-related insurance claims.
How does it work?
The mechanics of a backwater valve are fairly simple. Essentially, waste water can flow two directions; towards the home or away from the home. A backwater valve is a one-way valve, which means it will only allow the flow of water in one direction. So, while in its natural open position, a backwater valve will permit the outward flow of the sewage and the venting of gases. In this open position, the flow of waste water is unobstructed. However, if water begins to flow in the opposite direction, (like it would during a flood or sewer back up) then the valve has a flap that is forced closed by the opposing flow of water. While closed, sewage is prevented from making its way back into the home. Check it out.
Does having one guarantee a back-up will not happen?
Unfortunately there is no guarantee. While backwater valves do offer a lot of protection, there is no way to completely prevent sewer back up losses. However, there are steps you can take to ensure that your valve is offering your home the maximum amount of protection from water damage. Here are the two biggest factors that will impact the effectiveness of your backwater valve.
In order to operate properly, the device needs to be installed correctly. This includes the location, orientation and position. For this reason, it is always best to have a professional plumber install the valve. These are the biggest considerations regarding the proper installation of your backwater valve:
The device must be located downstream of all sanitary fixtures, but upstream of any connection from the foundation drain.
Each device has directionality to it, which means that it will only work if oriented correctly. Devices therefore usually have clearly illustrated arrows on them.
Every device will typically have minimum slope requirements.
Similar to most other components in your home, backwater valves are not maintenance-free. They are mechanical devices in a dirty environment, which require regular inspection, maintenance and cleaning to ensure they continue to operate correctly. For this reason, read and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the type and frequency of maintenance required.
The damage caused from sewer back up losses can get very costly. With the increase in frequency and severity of extreme weather recently in Ontario, water damage insurance claims have become even more common, and more expensive. While it’s not possible to completely protect your home from this type of loss, there are steps you can take to drastically improve your protection. Having a properly functioning backwater valve is definitely at the top of that list.
If your home does not currently have a backwater valve, but you are you considering having your home retrofitted, check with your local municipality first to see if there are any financial subsidy programs in your area.
Still have questions about backwater valves or water-related insurance claims? Get in touch with one of our professional brokers 7 days a week.