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Sewer Backup Prevention Tips

backflow valve

Taking note of sewer backup prevention tips may save you an unpleasant, costly, and smelly experience. Statistics state that water damage claims, including sewer backup incidents, for Canadian homes makes up 40 percent of all home insurance claims.

Gutters, Downspouts, and Sump Pumps

Rain pouring out of downspouts may cause your drains to become overloaded. Make sure that your eavestroughs or gutters are cleared of debris regularly so that they don’t begin to empty water haphazardly onto foundations and into drains. Downspouts should extend about 1.2 to 2 metres (4 to 6 feet) away from the building so that the water is directed well clear of your sewer drains to prevent floods or sewer backups.

The same applies to sump pumps. If you’re pumping water from your basement or another low point on your property during heavy rains, ensure that it is not draining into the sewage lines; discharge the water onto your lawn or driveway — as long as the latter doesn’t slope toward the house.


Roots from trees and shrubs may damage sewer pipes and cause backups. To prevent roots from damaging sewage lines, drain inspection and maintenance is strongly recommended.

If you’re planting trees in your garden, locate your sewer lines and choose trees carefully. Purchase trees and shrubs that have shallow roots and plant them well clear of underground sewage pipes.

FOG and More

Fats, oils, and grease, commonly known as FOG in the plumbing world, create havoc in sewage lines. Even if you rinse FOG down the drain with hot water and dishwashing soap, it will eventually harden and clog your drains.

For surfaces that are only covered lightly in oil, wipe them with a paper towel and throw the paper into the trash. The best way to dispose of large amounts of FOG is to pour it into a container, such as an old coffee can, seal it, and either place it in the trash or contact your local municipality to find out what to do with it.

Items like wet wipes, diapers, personal hygiene products, and latex gloves may be labelled “disposable” but that doesn’t mean they are flushable. Once they reach sewer lines, these objects don’t dissolve but end up blocking pipes, damaging expensive equipment, and causing backups.

Back Water Valves

A back water valve (also called backflow valve by homeowners) installed in a home’s sanitary system is a great sewer backup prevention tool as it stops sewage from flowing back from municipal pipes. Your local plumber can install a back water valve easily and efficiently. Points to note about back water valves:

  • During heavy rains don’t flush the toilet, drain the sink, or use the dishwasher or clothes washer as the valve stops water from leaving your sewer pipes. If you release water while the valve is closed it will bubble up through your basement drains.
  • These valves need to be cleaned and maintained periodically – this task is best done by a qualified plumber.
  • Check with your municipality or through your plumber to make sure that back flow  valves are allowed in your area.

Check Insurance Coverage

An all-risk home insurance package does not necessarily include cover for sewer backups, and is often regarded as an add-on by many insurance companies. Check the fine print on your policy to see what your insurance covers.

For more information about sewer backup prevention, contact ExpressRooter Plumbing today. Our experienced, professional staff utilise the latest technology and offer quality workmanship.

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