In Toronto, the city offers owners of single-family, duplex and triplex residential homes a subsidy of up to $3,400 per property for the installation of flood protection devices like a sump pump, backwater valve, and severance and capping of a home’s storm sewer or external weeping tile connection (which means the disconnection of the weeping tile pipe from the city’s sewer system).
There is a good reason for this. Basement flooding is a common problem for homeowners. And with climate change, and heavier rainfall, it’s becoming more common. Too often waterproofing companies are brought in after the fact – after a flood, sewer back-up, or water damage. Homeowners are then out thousands of dollars to clean everything up, not to mention personal possessions, important documents and momentos that are damaged or lost forever.
We hear a lot about how budgets are stretched at all levels of government. In Toronto, the city manages one of the largest water and wastewater systems in North America – all day, all night, all year. That system ensures that over 3.6 million people and businesses in Toronto, and portions of York and Peel, have access to safe, clean drinking water.
CITY SEWER SYSTEMS ARE AGING
Stormwater collection is one of the things they do. They will tell you about the budget challenges – according to Toronto’s 2019 budget there is currently $1.491 billion in backlogged, infrastructure repair needs. Significant money is required to eliminate the backlog by 2028.
A big concern is the resiliency of the city system against incidents of extreme weather, to manage basement flooding and other stormwater issues across the city.
In the budget, around $3.4 billion (25 per cent) of the city’s recommended 10-year capital plan will be allocated to projects that will improve the city’s resiliency to extreme weather events. There are thousands of kilometres of water mains and storm and sewer lines across Toronto. In recent years, sudden, heavy storms have overwhelmed the system and many areas of the city became mini lakes.
BACKWATER VALVES PROVIDE IMPORTANT INSURANCE
So for homeowners, pro-action is key. You can’t count on city hall to protect what for many of us will be the most significant investment we will make in our lifetimes. That’s why the city’s subsidy program is in place.
And that’s why you need a backwater valve installed in your home. What is it?
The backwater valve is a device with a flap that opens to allow water from sinks, toilets, showers or tubs to exit the home, into the municipal system. That flap (which has a flotation device) will close if there is backflow from the city’s sewer pipes, back into your basement.
The flap will remain closed as long as there is pressure from the water and sewage backflow. Any homeowner who has faced a sewage backup through the home’s plumbing system will attest to how disgusting a situation that is.
There is also a clear cover so the homeowner can see if the device is operating properly, manually adjust the flap if need be, and to ensure it isn’t clogged by sewage. It’s an insurance device if the city’s drainage system has broken down.
HOW TO INSTALL A BACKWATER VALVE
The installation process for the backwater valve shouldn’t be left in the hands of amateurs. Put the wrong valve in the wrong place, and it won’t work correctly. It should only be done by trained professionals.
Here is the installation process:
- Protect the work areas with tarp
- Locate the sewer lateral – where all the water from your home flows to the city’s sewer system
- Doing a plumbing inspection and looking for the most ideal location in the sewer lateral to install the backwater valve is key because technicians will be breaking up the concrete floor where the valve is going to be installed. So they will be looking to pinpoint the most ideal location to minimize damage
- A short piece of the lateral is cut and the valve in installed
- It’s important to get a city permit – there are regulations about the type of valves to be installed, to prevent backflow. In order to be approved for the subsidy, you need to install a backwater valve that’s approved by the city
- There are different valves out there on the market. The technicians will consult the homeowner and go with the one that best suits the homeowner’s needs
- Have the backwater valve inspected by the city, prior to covering it up
- Support the newly installed device with gravel, then backfill and apply the concrete
- Clean up the work areas
It will take a day to install a backwater valve. Get a qualified plumber to inspect it on a regular basis. In Toronto, the city will pay you 80 per cent of the invoiced cost of a backwater valve up to a maximum of $1,250, including materials, labour, permit and taxes. It doesn’t matter how many devices are installed on the property. (Same with sump pumps – 80 per cent of the invoiced cost up to a maximum of $1,750.)
PROTECTING YOUR HOME FROM FLOODING
In the end, it’s all about investing in an inter-connected waterproofing system throughout the home that breaks any reliance on a working, 100 per cent efficient city sewer system, at a time when politicians and staff are admitting there is a backlog of important infrastructure upgrades they can’t get to because of funding shortfalls. Other cities have similar challenges and similar subsidy programs in place as well.
Backwater valves are one thing you can do. Disconnecting weeping tiles from the city’s sewer connection, and connecting it instead to a sump pump that will pump water out of your basement and foundation area to an outside location, is another thing you can do.
So is disconnecting your eavestrough’s downspout from the sanitary sewer, and extended it several feet from the home, so water can drain off. You should also grade the soil next to the walls of the home on a downward slope, so water doesn’t build up next to the foundation.
These are all important things you can do to keep your home dry.
Why should you install a sump pump and a backwater valve?
The global climate is ever changing, and we are seeing more examples of this right here in Southern Ontario. Extremely heavy rains and snowfalls are overwhelming the aging sewer infrastructure, and the result has been major flooding.
Residential basements have been particularly impacted, as there has been little the homeowner could do to protect their homes against such extreme weather-related flooding.
In 2013 the insurance industry spent almost $1 billion repairing and replacing clients’ basements and possessions.
The good news – there is a solution to keep basements dry and avoid any property damage or loss. Canada Waterproofers will give you a free assessment of your home. We’ll show you how to protect your property from any future flooding with the latest in flood protection technology.
A sump pump is a highly effective way of redirecting water away from the foundation and footings of your home, ensuring your basement stays dry while others are getting flooded.
A sump pump is usually installed so that the weeping tile system that surrounds the perimeter of the house, or surrounds the interior of your basement, has a place to drain.
This is very important since the old method of draining a weeping tile was to connect it to your drainage system – which is deteriorating and cannot keep up with the huge rainfalls that we are now seeing. This will almost guarantee that your house would eventually get flooded if not addressed properly.
A key tool in keeping the basement of a home dry is a sump pump.
This is what it is, in a nutshell:
It’s a mechanical device that sits either in a submerged, three-foot sump pit in the basement of the home (where you won’t hear it operating) or above the pit, on a pedestal of some kind (where you will hear it operating).
Water flows via the perforated weeping tile/plastic pipe installed along the interior wall of the basement on a decline to the sump pump where it is then pumped via an ABS pipe to a location outside the home.
Like anything else, you can do it yourself. You can buy the sump pump liner and pump. You will have to first mark out then jackhammer the concrete floor (concrete circular saw first, to cut into the floor before bringing in the jackhammer?). You will need to dig the pit – around three feet deep and two feet in diameter. You’ll need to store all the soil.
After the pit is dug out, you will likely see ground water seeping into it – a lesson on why you need a waterproofing system in the first place. You will need to connect the weeping tile into the sump pit, install the pump, then make sure it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing. Make sure the lid of the pit is flush with the concrete basement floor.
Again, like all components of a home waterproofing system, whether it’s exterior or interior, it’s best to call on a waterproofing professional to install a sump pump. Each house is set up differently, so it’s best to get an expert in there to develop the best strategy to deal with water seepage.
The installation process involves a lot of excavation work. If you do it yourself, and it doesn’t work, and water isn’t being pumped to the outside, you will have to go back and dig it up again, if the pump is submerged and encased in gravel in a pit. It could be that the pump wasn’t installed correctly, or that it’s not hooked up properly to the drainage system.
Common causes for a malfunction include:
- The wrong-size pump was installed in the pit. If it’s too small, it may be running constantly to keep up with water seepage
- Maybe there’s a broken check valve on the pump. The check valve monitors that water is flowing outside the home instead of back into the pit. If it’s flowing back into the pit the pump will be running non-stop to pump it back out again. The more over-worked the pump is the sooner you will have to replace it
- The pump and the switches on it get clogged by impediments or dirt
- Continuous, heavy water flow into the pit can put too much pressure on the system. Maybe you need a second sump pump if you are dealing with a rising water table
It’s always best to get things done right the first time. Here is the installation process, according to Canada Waterproofers:
- Protect work areas with tarps
- Excavate the area where the sump liner will be installed
- Remove and dispose soils
- Install the new liner
- Encase the tank with gravel, then backfill the soil, and put in the concrete floor
- Install a Liberty submersible pump and connect it to the existing ABS pipe that runs to the exterior of the home (if an existing tank is already in the house). If there isn’t an existing tank Canada Waterproofers will install one plus the ABS pipe that extends outside, sloping away from the house. That will feed the water into an area safely away from the basement. Liberty pumps come in different varieties – including one-piece cast iron pumps or aluminum/poly pumps
- Test the pump, then clean up the debris and work area
Submersible tanks typically last around ten years. Companies like Liberty also offer battery back-up emergency sump pump systems that will take over if there is a power blackout. With one of these, the homeowner has the peace-of-mind knowing water is constantly being pumped out of the home, helping to keep the home safe, healthy and dry. There is also a back-up pump option that is run via a connection to the municipal water supply – no electricity or battery needed.
Professional waterproofing companies like Canada Waterproofers provide 25-year transferrable warranties on exterior and interior waterproofing – all materials and labour – and a three-year manufacturer’s warranty on sump pumps.
Our sump pump installation process
When a sump pump is installed then the old weeping tile connection to the city sewer is severed. That will help avoid flooding.
We also highly recommend installing a sewer back-up valve (backwater valve) to protect you from sewage coming back from the city.
Check out our drain section to read more about sump pumps and how important they are for flood protection.
The pump is installed inside the basement along the exterior wall – as long as there is a place to discharge the water (so the water doesn’t flow back into the house). Our crews will excavate, remove and dispose of the soil, and install a water tank (also called a sump liner).
We’ll then set up a connection from the existing weeping tile (or the new weeping tile, if installed) to the side of the tank. We’ll encase the tank with gravel (3/4″ clear), re-cement around the tank, install a submersible pump, then test the system (discharge water to the exterior). If all checks out and meets our standards, a lid is then put on the tank, bolted down, and you are good to go.
Sump pump features
A sump pump consists of 3 main features:
- Tank that holds the water that is drained from a weeping tile
- A pump that pushes the water up and out of the basement to a drainage point
- There is also a third feature that can be added to the sump pump – a battery back-up system and alarm.
A battery back-up system
This system consists of a separate pump that runs off a marine battery, so in the case of a power failure or a primary pump failure, the back-up pump will automatically switch on. The back-up device can continue to pump water out of your basement without the aid of the main power for up to 24 hours.
The battery system also includes an alarm that automatically switches on every time the battery pump kicks in, so you’ll be aware when the main pump is not functioning.
The battery back-up pump is very effective. We highly recommend that you install one if you are planning to have a sump pump installed.
Water back-up system
There is also another back-up pump that can be installed, powered by your water supply. Like fighting fire with fire, water turns the pump turbine which then pumps water out of your basement.
The really good thing about this pump is that there is not a time limit to how long it will run. As long as your water supply is on then the pump will keep on pumping.
But like everything there is one catch to this pump.
You need a minimum of a 3/4″ water supply line from the city that comes into your house in order for the pump to work correctly. If you have the supply line, and it’s close to your sump pump, then this is the ideal way to go, as it’s one of the most reliable pumps on the market and doesn’t require any power.
Municipalities and insurance companies are now encouraging homeowners to install mainline backwater valves.
- The installation of the valve takes just one day
- The valve can be installed either at the front-inside foundation wall or outside
- A camera inspection of the sewer should be carried out to determine the ideal location for the valve
- Once the valve is installed it will allow waste from the home to flow to the city main
- However, if the city main becomes overwhelmed and begins to back up into the adjacent basements, the valve will close automatically, preventing flooding from the city main sewer.
Canada Waterproofers are experts in installing backwater valves, and would be happy to provide an on-site assessment and a free quote.
Our backwater valve installation process
A crew from Canada Waterproofers will excavate where the sewage connection leaves the house (normally in the front of the house), inside or outside the foundation wall. The building code stipulates that the valve has to be within a maximum of 3 feet from the front wall and you cannot have a y pipe connected within 3 feet behind the valve, or you risk having the sewage back up into the house.
Install the city-approved BWV with down-stream, clean-out access in the front of the valve. Have the valve inspected by the city. The Canada Waterproofers crew will support the pipework with gravel and then back-fill and compact the ground, followed by inside concrete finish and outside gravel finish. Clean-up is the last step.
Check out our drain section to read more about backwater valves and how important they are for flood protection.
At Canada Waterproofers, we understand that a flooded basement can be very stressful and can cause a huge upheaval in one’s life.
We also know that if you take the correct precautions, and have your basement waterproofed and protected with sump pumps and backwater valves, then you will never have to experience that stress or upheaval.
If you’ve experienced a flooded basement and you never want it to happen again, or you haven’t ever experienced any flooding, but just want to be sure that it never happens to you, then give Canada Waterproofers a call and receive a free assessment of your home. Learn how you can protect yourself and your investment from any future flooding.
Canada Waterproofers Team