Backwater Valves in Niles, OH

What is a backwater valve?

They’re known as check valves or backwater valves,  a simple mechanical device designed to allow the flow of water in a single direction, away from the home. It allows the water from sinks, toilets and tubs in your home to flow into the sewer system while blocking the sewer system from flowing back up into the home. The backwater valve has a flap that shuts close if the sewer system should start to back up and flow back into the home’s pipes.

Although a backwater valve is a fairly simple device in construction and design, it can be complex undertaking to understand how they operate. As part of the name states, the device is a valve and therefore can be closed or opened. The closing and opening of the gate, or flap as it’s sometimes called, is controlled by floats below the gate which cause the gate to lift and close to stop the backflow of water as the level of water in the valve raises in the sanitary sewer line. As the level of water flowing from the sewer line increases, the gate is lifted further and the pressure increases, creating a seal between the gate and the gasket, therefore blocking the sewer water from flowing into the home’s pipes and plumbing. Once the level of the sewer line’s water recedes back to a normal level, the gate falls back down and opens the valve.

There are a couple types of backwater valves. Although we won’t go into detail and bore you with each type, the main difference is where the device is installed. The most common type is installed inside the home or business by cutting a hole in the foundation above the main sewer line. It’s known as a mainline full port backwater valve. The other less common type can be installed outside of the home on the sewer line, like in the homeowner’s yard.

While backwater sanitary valves are quite effective in protecting a person’s home from flooding, there’s no guarantee that a sewage backup will not occur. To lessen the risk of a malfunctioning backwater valve, consider the following tips:

Use a Reliable Plumbing Contractor

The average homeowner is not expected to be as knowledgeable as their plumbing contractor when it comes to backwater valves. But, like any home improvement or repair, you want to know that it's being done correctly. Major problems can be encountered when the plumber is not diligent in their installation of a backwater valve. Sadly, we hear too many stories and complaints about dishonest or lazy plumbing operations that do not properly install these valves, or worse yet, install backwater valves and do not disconnect the footer drains from the sewer lateral. Often times, we're the ones coming in to fix the mess our unprofessional competitors have left these homeowners with. Fortunately, when you use A to Z Plumbing & Drain Service LLC for any of your plumbing needs, you have the peace of mind knowing that we do the job right the first time, every time, not just to protect our reputation, but most importantly to protect the homeowners we serve.

Backflow Valve Installation - Leave it to the Pros at A to Z

Unfortunately, backflow valves will not work if they are not installed properly and maintained. There's no doubt, you will need a certified licensed plumber to correctly install a backwater valve. The basement floor will need to be broken so that a section can be cut out to provide access to the sanitary sewer lateral. This hard work is only just the beginning of it.

A to Z Plumbing cannot stress enough the importance of proper installation and placement of a backwater valve unit. The valve should always be installed according to the manufacturer's instructions which include very specific placement and slope requirements. Without proper location, placement, and installation, the backwater valve could be rendered useless, giving the plumbing and drainage systems no protection at all. The wrong placement of the valve relative to the plumbing fixtures and sanitary pipe can easily lead to the excess water and backup bypassing the valve and spilling into the home, leading to disaster. The wrong location can also cause sewer backup to build up pressure which can lead to cracked basement floors and flooding, not to mention possible structural damage to the foundation.

The Trouble with Footer Drains & Backwater Valves

The water discharged from a home is designed to have a pathway to the sanitary sewer system. This pathway is known as the sanitary sewer lateral. FYI, lateral is more or less a fancy term for pipe. Normally, this sewer lateral allows water to flow away from the house towards the sewer, but when the sewer backs up or over flows it can potentially flow back up this pathway and into the home's plumbing system. It's pretty gross to say the least.

There are some buildings and residences that do not connect foundation or footer drains directly to the sanitary sewer lines. These homes instead divert the flow of the foundation's drainage to a sump pump which then discharges it elsewhere like a backyard or lawn. These homes will not encounter complications if they install a backwater valve. But, if the home's foundation drainage system connects to the sanitary sewer, then that connection needs to be severed. The footer drains cannot be connected to the sewer lines if a backwater valve is used. Connected foundation drains can cause sewage and unsanitary water to back up into basements or other drainage material around the foundation.

Before installing a backwater valve it is of the utmost importance that the foundation drains, footers, and downspouts be disconnected from the sanitary sewer line. If this important step is left out, the homeowner will literally find themselves in one heck of a mess. If left connected, your basement can easily become flooded during heavy rain. Simply put, when the rain comes the sanitary sewer system becomes flooded with water and becomes backed up, this increased sewer water level causes the backwater valve to close shut, which gives the water flowing from the footer drains and foundation drains nowhere to go but into your basement.

Maintenance & Upkeep

Structures with backwater valves should avoid using large amounts of water during heavy rainfall or snow melts. If the backwater valve is closed the backup from the sewer cannot enter the home, but at the same time the sewage and water discharge coming from the home (i.e. washing dishes, flushing toilets, washing clothes, taking a shower) cannot be released into the sewer line because of the closed valve. This means that when the valve is shut due to heavy rain or snow melting, which causes a rise in the level of the sewer lateral, a homeowner should be careful not to exceed their home's internal plumbing's limited storage capacity. If they do, the discharge and water coming from the home will start to flow from the home's lowest drainage point, which is normally a floor drain in the basement.

Backwater valves are by no means maintenance free. They operate in a dirty environment and to ensure proper performance, periodic maintenance of the valve is necessary. Manufacturers often provide recommendations for the type and frequency of maintenance needed. If not properly maintained, failure of the valve may occur when you need it most. Many models of backwater valves are clear or see through on top so that they may be easily checked for clogs or debris. If a problem is found or maintenance is needed, it is best to seek the help of a qualified plumbing professional like A to Z Plumbing.

If you are looking to install or replace a backwater valve, Install or replace a sump pump, or install or replace a battery operated backup pump in the Niles, Ohio or surrounding areas, contact our professional plumbers.

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