What is a “backwater check valve”?

Simply put, it is a device used in plumbing drains to prevent the flow of sewage and or drain water from backing up into your home.

Most newer homes across Canada have this feature in their drain system. Older homes typically do not. It is hard to guage if you have this in your home or not unless your local municipality has kept this on record.

There are two types of backwater check valves. One is a “normally open” installation which basically protects the entire drainage system from backups. Then there is a “branch” installation where the valve will protect the main drainage “stack” or vertical drains including any bathrooms in your basement, but will not protect your floor-drain typically in your mechanical room close to your furnace and hot water tank.

If you are completing a basement development, check with your local city permits and development department to see if you have a backwater check valve in your drainage system. If you do not, or you are not sure if you have one, your plumbing inspector will require this at the rough-in stage. If your home has one main drain from your main plumbing stack straight out to the city property, you will be able to implement the “normally open” style of install. If you have more than one plumbing drain stack in your home, you may only be able to protect the drain with your bathroom fixtures on it, such as toilets, bathtubs, and sinks on a “branch” installation.

If you have a “branch” style check valve system, you may want to provide yourself of notification the second you have a water leak or a sewage backup in your home if it ever happens. Why not add an inexpensive ”Passive Water Leak Detection Device”.

Here you can see the “Zircon – Leak Alert”. It is simply used by putting it on the floor by your floor-drain, or in other locations in bathrooms or under sinks where you may have leaks. This model is listed online at Lowes for $11.21 which is a great investment.

From my experience working for over 10 years in the flood restoration industry, time is of the essence. The quicker you can stop a leak, the more damage you will prevent.

You may even go as far to add an “Active Water Leak Protection System”, which sound an alarm and also shut off the source of water, but these are typically too expensive for residential use, and used in commercial properties with sensitive or expensive contents.

For more information on Backwater check valve systems, or water leak detection devices, please contact us and we would be happy to answer your questions!

Macdonald Contracting 403.399.0459