According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, water damage caused by sewage backup is one of the most common threats to Canadian homes. Impossible to ignore, flooding and sewage backup in your home will very likely cause substantial damage and long-term disruptions to your daily life. Not only will your home require months of construction work, you’ll also face the very real chance of losing irreplaceable personal items to water damage. Like many disasters, homeowners don’t usually think much about water damage until it’s far too late. This article will go through some easy steps you can take to protect your home against damage caused by sewage backup.
How does sewer backup occur?
The majority of modern residential homes in newer cities and towns connect to separate sanitary and storm sewers; this helps to prevent overflow by splitting the inflow of water. But in somewhat older areas, these two systems are combined, making them more prone to overflow during periods of heavy rainfall. In some cases, this can cause sewage to be forced back up the system to eventually find its way into the lower levels of your home through things like storm drains, sewer cleanouts, basement toilets, sinks and even showers. And depending on how much of it finds its way into your home, you could be faced with some pricey repairs.
What can you do to protect your home?
Protecting your home against water damage can be as simple as taking a few preventative steps.
• First, you’ll want to determine whether or not your home has dedicated sanitary and storm sewers. Finding out is easy; simply contact your local government office and ask! If they tell you that your home is linked to a combined sewer system, you’re at a higher likelihood for sewer backup. In this case, you’ll want to take additional steps to help protect your home and belongings.
• Have a professional plumber install and properly maintain a backwater valve in your home’s main sanitary sewer connection. During periods of heavy rainfall or flooding, this valve will automatically prevent sewage in an overloaded line from backing up into your backwater valves. If this valve is something you require, you may be eligible for a subsidy from your municipal government!
•If your basement is below grade (meaning that it is below ground level), it would be wise to contact a professional and inquire about the installation and maintenance of a sump pump system and battery backup. Sump pump systems are used to remove unwanted water before it finds its way into your basement, and the battery backup ensures that it keeps working during power outages (common during storms).
More everyday tips for avoiding water damage:
• Unless absolutely necessary, do not keep valuables in your basement. If you can, keep them on the higher floors of your home.
• Avoid pouring fats, oils and grease down household drains
• Keep storm sewer grates and all drains around the home clear of debris
• Seal cracks in foundation walls and basement floors
• Reduce home water use during heavy rainfall events
• Maintain eaves troughs and downspouts and ensure downspouts are pointed away from the home
• Upgrade weeping tiles, sump-pits and sump-pumps
• Have battery backup for sump pumps
• Install backflow valves (check your local community government office for incentives)
• Maintain window wells to allow maximum drainage
• Ensure all windows and doors seal tightly
• Arrange for a competent person to frequently check your home while away
• Store basement items on shelving off the floor and in plastic storage boxes
Though water damage is very likely to cause serious damage to your basement and foundation, it’s also very preventable with proper maintenance. To recap, it’s very easy to determine whether you’re at risk; simply contact your municipal government to find out. If that inquiry reveals that you’re connected to a combination sanitary and storm sewer, speak to a plumber about installing a sump pump system and battery backup.
Don’t wait until it’s too late; protect yourself, your home and your belongings today! For more information on how to protect your home from water damage, visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website.
Learn more about CAA Home and Property Insurance or call 1-877-665-1222 for a quote.