With spring rains just a few weeks ahead, this is a good time to check on your Scarborough backwater valve to make sure it’s ready (and able) to work hard. In the event of the sudden heavy downpour, we are almost certain to get at some point, your risk for a sewer backup increases exponentially if your valve is old or out of condition. Without a properly installed and functioning valve, sewage could come into your basement through a floor drain, sinks, bathtub or toilet. This video from the Insurance Bureau of Canada explains how a backwater valve works.

How a Backwater Valve Works

The sewer system in your home enables the controlled flow of water and sewage out of your house. If the sewer becomes full of water, it can rise above the level of your outlet pipe and cause the dirty water to flow back into your system. A backwater valve has a small flap that allows water and sewer gases to travel in the direction away from your house. Small flotation devices work to close off the flap if water tries to flow in the opposite direction, preventing it from coming back in and flooding your basement.

Why You Need a Backwater Valve

Older homes in Scarborough are at a higher risk of flooding than some other areas in the GTA. The City of Toronto has been working to reduce this risk for some years, but when homeowners take steps to protect themselves against flooding it helps reduce insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs, too. If your home doesn’t have a backwater valve installed, you can have one retrofitted and claim a subsidy from the City of up to $3,200 towards it.

Installing a Scarborough Backwater Valve

It’s best to contact a professional plumber to install your backwater valve because retrofitting can require some excavation to uncover the sewer line to the home. You’ll need the right valve for your application, and you’ll also have to install a removable cover so it can be accessed for inspections and maintenance.

The cost of installing a backwater valve depends on the complexity of your particular situation. Your best bet is to get a customized estimate for fitting the valve and discuss with the contractor whether the quote includes restoring any basement finishes that might be disturbed in the process.

Maintaining the Valve

Your Scarborough backwater valve should be inspected annually for debris that could cause a blockage. Check all the moving parts to ensure they are in good condition and aren’t constricted in any way, and clean out the housing area of the valve.

It might sound like an unnecessary expense, but installing a backwater valve in your Scarborough home can make a difference to your peace of mind, your insurance premiums and your long-term costs.