Plumbing & Sewer System Upgrades

Back-Check Valves or Overhead Plumbing

  1. All home built after 1972 have separate sump pumps for the foundation drainage system as well as overhead plumbing for the sewerage system. A separate foundation drainage system keeps the groundwater collected by the footing drains from entering and overloading the sanitary sewer system during a rain. Overhead plumbing prevents sewer backups into the basement should the village sewer mains become overloaded or blocked. An older plumbing system can be upgraded to minimize or prevent sanitary sewer backups into the basement. These include back check valves or converting the plumbing system to the overhead type. Back check valves are generally easier and cheaper to install but they have some limitations. For one you cannot use any of the plumbing facilities in your home while it is in the closed position unless the system installed has the capability to pump around the closed valve.
  2. Do you have footing drains that are tied into the sanitary sewer service? If you do then the basement may still flood once the valve closes as the footing drain water will be trapped and could back up. If so the footing drains will need to be separated out to a new sump pump pit or the type of valve used will have to be able to pump around the valve when closed. If you have a basement with no sump pump pit assume that you have the footing drains tied directly into your sewer service.
  3. How much maintenance is required to keep the protection measure in operation? If a check valve is recommended to prevent sewer backups, you should realize that regular maintenance and exercising is needed to keep the improvement working as intended. Inspection and cleaning is recommended once a year.
  4. Will the valve work automatically or will you have to be present to activate it? If the valve that is installed is manually operated, then someone needs to be present to shut the valve before the backup occurs.
  5. Conversion to overhead plumbing upgrades your system to modern standards and offers the greatest measure of protection against backups. Any floor drains or plumbing facilities in your basement goes to a separate ejector pit that pumps it out of the house at a much higher elevation than your basement floor level. You can continue to use your inside plumbing facilities during a storm. The footing drains will need to be separated out to a separate sump pit unless they are already. This keeps excess water from overloading the sanitary sewer system.

Let’s face it, needing sewer repairs for your home can be an extremely stressful time for a homeowner. Put yourself in a position of power by asking all of the right questions and make sure you get answers that you are comfortable with. Your peace of mind will be well worth the time and energy you spent, to find a decent, qualified contractor. Asking the right questions and making an informed decision as to what repairs are needed will reduce the possibility of being surprised with a flooded basement again.