Flooding caused by back-up from your sewer system can be damaging, costly and gross! While there are many reasons that sewer back-ups can happen, including heavy rains, blockages and aging sewer systems, there are a few things you can do to prevent it before it becomes a problem. Follow the steps below to protect your home against water damage from sewer overflow.
1. Maintain the sewer pipes on your property
Although the municipality’s sewer system is their responsibility, any piping on your property is yours to maintain. Pipes that are cracked, deteriorated or have tree roots growing through them will allow groundwater in and can potentially flood your home. If you have iron or clay pipes, consider replacing them with plastic, as they can be more secure and won’t allow tree roots to break in.
2. Don’t pour grease down the drain
Never put oil or grease in the drain, as it can create a clog when it solidifies that could result in sewer back-up. Coffee grinds and other food waste also have the potential to cause a clog. These materials should always be thrown away in the compost or garbage.
3. Only flush toilet paper and bodily waste
Although many products such as baby wipes are labeled “flushable,” they don’t actually break down quickly enough, and damage caused by these items cost municipalities across the country as much as $250 million per year.1 The only thing you should be flushing is toilet paper and bodily waste to avoid clogs and build-up. Paper towels, disposable and cloth diapers, feminine products, cigarette butts and facial tissues should all be disposed of in the garbage, compost or recycling instead.
4. Install a backwater prevention valve
Backwater prevention valves (also referred to as backflow valves) are a last barrier to a sewer back-up. They are installed on the sewer line in your home’s basement and allow sewage to only pass through in one direction. A professional can inspect your plumbing and let you know if a backwater prevention valve can be installed in your home.
5. Know the early signs of a sewer back-up
Knowing what to look for can help you catch a sewer back-up early before it causes much damage. Signs of a sewer back-up include basement floor drain seepage, an odour coming from your drains, toilets that don’t flush properly, multiple clogged drains or bubbling after you flush a toilet or drain a sink. In the unfortunate event that a sewer back-up does occur, you should immediately stop using water and turn off your water supply. Depending on your local laws, call a plumber or your municipal government to inspect the problem. Hire professionals to clean up the aftermath quickly so you prevent as much damage as possible.
Even with these prevention steps, damage from a sewer back-up can still happen. It’s a good idea to check with your home insurer to see if you can purchase additional coverage for sewer back-up, as it is not typically included in home insurance policies. Note that this add-on will only cover damage from sewer back-up; to cover the costs of damage due to other flooding, you’ll need overland water protection.
If you want to inquire about adding sewer back-up coverage to your home insurance policy, call 1-800-267-6847. If you’d like to get a quote for home insurance, call 1-866-561-5559.
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