Sewer Backup Valves: Why You Need One & Their Costs

Sewage needs to get out and stay out! When waste leaves your home, it should remain outside of the house in the municipal sewer system. But, not everything always goes according to plan. Sometimes, when flooding or heavy rainfall occurs, there’s a possibility sewage could flow back to your home. The best way to avoid waste flooding inside your house is with a sewer backup valve.

What Is a Sewer Backup Valve? 

A sewer backup valve is known by a few different names. You may see it referred to as a backwater valve, backflow valve, or a sewer backflow preventer. Whatever you decide to call it—these valves have a specific design, which forces the flow of sewage in one direction, away from your home and into the municipal sewer system.

Flashing flooding and heavy rainfall can overwhelm sewer lines, and then that smelly sludge wants to move back to where it flowed from. If that happens and you don’t have the right sewer backup valve in place, you could have a real mess. Sewage could come up through sink drains, toilets, bathtubs, or showers, leaving you with a stinky disaster. While the average cost of a sewer backup varies, depending on the extent of backflow, it’s definitely less expensive than installing a valve. 

How Do Sewer Backup Valves Work?

Sewer backup valves are pretty simple, but are an important step in protecting your home. These devices have a one-way flow with a flap on it. The flap opens and allows waste matter to leave your home. If that sewage ever starts to come back toward the house, the float ball inside senses the backflow, and automatically closes the flap. When the flap is closed, it blocks the pipe, so nothing will seep back in. Backflow preventer valve to the rescue! 

How Do I Know if I Have a Backflow Valve?

It’s more likely that a newer home will have a valve in place, but it’s a good idea to check regardless of the age of your home. Better safe than sorry, right? If you have a home built before 1989, you should definitely take a peek. Backwater valves weren’t required in homes built at that time. 

These valves are usually near your sump pump, and are often installed in the floor. Head to your basement (or garage, depending on how your home is built) and look around for the valve. It may have a cover on it, also known as a backwater valve access box. If it does, be sure to temporarily take it off and familiarize yourself with the apparatus.

How Do You Perform Backflow Valve Maintenance?

The biggest key here is to keep an eye on it, especially as we head into thunderstorm season. You may want to clean it every couple of months, so there’s no build-up on the backwater valve flapper. 

To do this, put on goggles, gloves, and old clothes you’re not worried about getting dirty. Remember, sewage flows through this! Take the cap off the top and check for debris. We recommend flushing clean water through the water backflow preventer, and scrubbing if needed. When you’re done, make sure you put the cap back on securely.

When performing regular maintenance, if you find the backflow valve leaking, it will likely need to be replaced.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Backwater Valve?

If you’re looking for backwater valve installation in Edmonton, our expert technicians can take care of the job for you! And, you may be eligible for EPCOR’s Backwater Valve Subsidy Program, which could save you up to $800 on an installation.
Contact us today to talk to one of our experts and book an installation!