Many homeowners are unaware that water causes more damage to homes and personal property than fire. Water damage is the main cause of property claims.
Water damage can occur in your home in many ways, from plumbing leaks to leaky foundations and flooding to sewer backups. Although it can be difficult to protect your home from every possible threat water poses, you can take some steps to help avoid water damage to your home, including sewer backups.
Sewer backups are caused by blockages to the flow of wastewater from your house to the municipality’s sewer. When this happens, the water has no choice but to flow back to your house. It’s important to take as many precautions as possible to prevent sewer backups because this will help you avoid costly water damage.
Here we’ll look at 15 ways to prevent a sewer backup from happening.
1. Make sure your sump pump works
Sump pumps help to manage water flow that might come into your basement. Although you might not know it, water can come into your basement, especially when there is heavy rain or snowfall.
If you have a lot of snow piled up around your home when spring arrives, that snow poses a threat as it begins to melt. Sump pumps address several issues by using a floating trigger to detect and activate when water reaches threatening levels.
It then pumps the water out and away from your home either back to the storm sewer system or drainage ditch, depending on where you live. It’s important to ensure your sump pump is working properly with an annual checkup for your sump pump to protect your home from flooding.
2. Get professional sump pump maintenance
Have a professional come in and clean your sump pump filter or grate each year to clear away debris that can interfere with it functioning properly.
3. Get a backup battery for your sump pump
Ask a professional if your sump pump has a battery backup system in case of a power outage. Because you need your sump pump to keep working during heavy rainstorms when power outages are common, you need to know that your sump pump will keep working even in the worst storms.
4. Consider getting a second sump pump
If you are in an area prone to flooding, speak to a professional about having a second sump pump installed. This will help manage excess water flow that will lead to flooding and water damage.
5. Install a sump pump alarm
Check to see if your sump pump has an alarm. If not, either replace your sump pump with a newer model with a built-in alarm or have an alarm installed. This will alert you to issues with your sump pump so you can have it checked for damage.
6. Test your sump pump regularly
Manual testing for your sump pump once or twice a year will ensure it works when you need it. You can do this by filling your sump pump pit slowly from a pail of water to watch for water levels rising. If your pump fails to start working as the water rises, it means it might not be working. We recommend you call in a professional for a regular maintenance check to prevent this.
7. Prevent basement leaks
Check your foundation wall and basement floor for cracks that might require sealing. If you aren’t sure which ones are risky, call in a foundation expert to examine it .
8. Use window wells and covers
Getting window wells or covers for your below-grade basement windows will not only help improve drainage but also help your windows last longer. As well, you will help prevent windowsill rot, which can lead to leaking. Window wells are very affordable and can be purchased as a simple plastic cover that will still allow light into your basement.
9. Ensure you have “weeping tile”
Weeping tile assists with underground water collection around your foundation where moisture can build up and lead to leaks or damage caused by dampness. It can work in hand with your sump pump to direct water away from your home.
10. Disconnect downspouts from sewer drains
Downspouts help transport water from your eavestroughs to your lawn to avoid water build-up near your home. If they are connected to your weeping tile or sanitary sewer drain, the system can become overwhelmed, leading to sewer backups. This might be best left to a professional, as if not done properly, you could end up with ice damage to your driveway or walkways, which can lead to other issues.
11. Install a backwater valve
A backwater valve will prevent sewer backups by allowing sewage to flow out of your house. This is important during heavy rainfall or when snow is melting, as it can cause the sewer system to overflow.
Newer homes usually have them installed based on municipality requirements. However, older homes might not have one. You can check with your municipality to see if a backwater valve is required and if they offer an incentive or rebate for new installations.
If you’re not sure if you have one already, you can call in a professional to check, or even tell you where to look.
12. Be smart in your kitchen
Be smart about the fats and other heavy food items you pour down your kitchen sink. This can lead to blockages that cause sewer backups. Always use your garbage for food waste to avoid damming up your drainage system even if it seems like a harmless liquid like cooking oil.
13. Clean sewage grates
In the fall, sewer grates near your home can get jammed with leaves and debris. Take the time to clear away debris from sewer grates at the curb near your home to avoid clogs in your storm sewer system. If you can see an issue with clogging on your street, contact your municipality to report it as there might be a more serious issue.
14. Don’t flush anything down the toilet
Your toilet is designed to flush human waste, toilet paper, and nothing else. Therefore, avoid flushing anything down the toilet, including baby wipes, paper towels, makeup remover wipes, sanitary napkins and tampons, cotton balls, etc. Although it might seem harmless and no different than toilet paper, it is always better to use your garbage instead of the toilet.
15. Get proper insurance coverage
While insurance won’t help prevent sewer backups, it’s the best way to protect yourself if your precautions still don’t work. Water entering your home from external sources like the sewer might not be covered by your home insurance.
To learn more about how you can prevent a sewer back-up happening, and the insurance you can get to protect yourself, call Bow Valley Insurance at 403-297-9400 or contact us here.
Disclaimer: Coverage is subject to policy wording, terms, conditions, and deductibles. Protection is limited to the perils, coverage, exclusions, and limits shown on the policy.