Remember the heavy rainstorms this past spring and summer? For those who were not affected by flooding and sewer backups, these storms may seem like a faint memory. However, for those who experienced a large amount of standing water in their basements, I’m certain that these incidents remain fresh in their memory. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon during heavy rainstorms for sanitary sewer sewers to become overloaded with more volume than they can handle. This is a common thread throughout this country, not just with the District.
Most of the District’s sewer system is gravity fed, meaning sanitary sewer flow travels on a downward path naturally to its final destination-the waste water treatment plant. When a gravity system is overloaded, the excess flow is forced back into the system including owner’s service lines which ultimately means into basements or other low lying drains, toilets, etc.
The good news is that there is protection that can help prevent a potential sewer backup. One easy, affordable way is to have what’s called a “check valve” installed. Generally, a licensed plumber or contractor should be hired to install such a device. This device is usually installed either into the sewer line, your sump pump or any other exit point from your home so that when a sewer system is overloaded and the flow begins to push towards your home, the check valve closes and keeps the sewage out of your exit points.
There are many types of check valve systems available today. We recommend consulting with a professional (remember to use a District licensed plumber or contractor-see website for current list) that can assist you with the correct device for your home.