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Does My Home Need a Back Water Valve? How Will I Know?

Does My Home Need a Back Water Valve? How Will I Know?

Sewer System repair in Bellingham, Wrentham & Franklin, MA

If your home or office building is at the top of a sewer system (cul du sac, in the middle of a block at the crest of a hill or in an industrial park) the sewer may be prone to backups. If you are down stream of the backup, your situation does not change. However, if you are upstream of the backup, you may have the misfortune of having all buildings upstream of your building or house discharging sewage to your property.

A Back Water Valve is basically a check valve installed on the residential sewer line. It allows sewage to flow out of the building but does not allow sewage backups from downstream of the back water valve to be forced into homes or places of business. When municipal sewer backups occur, the sewage continues to flow from upstream the blockage. However, the sewage cannot flow downstream in the direction it would normally flow if there is a blockage. Therefore, the house or building closest to the blockage would receive the flow from upstream as the sewage would come into the building through the fixtures closest to the blockage. This includes floor drains, shower pans, toilets and laundry discharge lines.

This is a back water valve. It opens from the top and should remain serviceable when installed. If the plumbing does not flow out of the house. Do not open the back water valve unless you are absolutely certain there is not a blockage in the sewer system, downstream of this valve. The result could be you will flood your home with sewage from your neighborhood. The flood will not stop until the blockage is free and sewage is able to traverse the municipal sewer system again.

The back water valve has a flapper, check ball or a float-able gate inside. When water rises to the backwater valve, it either rest against a flapper with a rubber seal, causes the buoyancy of a plastic ball or a gate to rise to the back side of the upper chamber in the back water valve. This action does not let go until the sewage has subsided from the downstream side of the upper chamber.

When the back water valve is in place, the sewage cannot pass beyond the back water valve and your home is safe from sewage. However, if sewage is not coming up, keep in mind, no sewage will get out, either. In fact, one of the signals your sewer is backing up outside your home is usually the result of having water and sewage from your home, not being able to get out and the pipe becomes full with sewage. On the bright side, you have the ability to stop using water and clean up the mess, without sewage continuing to pour into your home. The next step is to find where the problem is. The blockage may be on a section of sewer pipe on your property or the city. If it is on the city sewer line, contact your local Department of Public Works.