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Sewer Backup Prevention Measures

Water damage to your home can take on many different forms: a leak in your hot water heater  a frozen pipe that bursts or leaks through your foundation walls. However the most frequent source of water damage to Canadian homes is through sewer backups .

A sewer backup occurs when your municipal drainage system overflows and sends water back through the pipes and into your home. This can happen for a variety of reasons but the most common is when a large amount of water either from heavy rainfall or from a large snow melt overwhelms the sewer system. This causes a system-wide failure that pushes the excess water back up the pipes and into your home.

Given that many of our basements are no longer unfinished concrete storage rooms the result of this  water and sewage damage can be quite devastating—destroyed furniture rotting floors and mold spores  are just a few of the issues—and the costs of repair and replacement can be astronomical.

There is nothing worse than the experience of having your sewer system backup into the home. Aside from the obvious initial mess, there is the potential for mould and bacterial issues. Drywall and flooring may be irreparably damaged and furniture could even fall victim to sewer seepage. You can protect yourself with sewer backup insurance coverage, optional coverage available for many home insurance policies.

You can also take preventative steps so that you aren’t left with a catastrophic mess on your hands – and did you know that this can even get you some discounts on your home insurance premium? Your insurance company may even provide funding for sewer backup prevention measures.

Tip #1 – Have plugs ready to go

Essentially when the municipal city or private septic systems back up the lines have become blocked and the only way for the water and sewage to go is to flow back into the home. Liquid and debris will start pouring back in via toilets and drains. Fortunately, you can purchase plugs for both toilets and drains and have these ready in the event of a sewer backup. By capping these areas of penetration off quickly you may be able to circumvent some of the damage that may otherwise occur.

Tip #2 – Install backflow valves in your home

If you have a professional contractor install backflow valves throughout your home’s plumbing system you stand a much better chance of not taking on any water in the event that a sewer does back up. A backflow valve will close and given the degree and level of valve you have installed not allow any water to flow in reverse and infiltrate your house. Backflow valves come in a variety of types and functionalities including those that trigger automatically and those that are manually operated. Talking to a licensed plumber will give you a better idea of function and affordability.

Tip #3 – Get a sump pump

The sump pump has the job of pumping the excess water out of the home through a crock located in the basement or foundation. As soon as the water table gets too high the pump activates and ejects the excess water from the house. You can even have water-powered sump pumps installed this way even if there is a loss of power the pump—operated hydraulically–will still continue to operate. Alternatively, you can get a battery-powered sump pump or invest in a generator.

You should have your sump pump checked annually.

Tip #4 – Keep gutters & downspouts clean

Not necessarily related to sewer backup per se but cleaning out your gutters and downspouts regularly will certainly help to control water issues in and around your foundation. You always want the water especially in the event of a downpour or heavy storm to flow away from the home. Properly functioning gutters will definitely help to accomplish this.

Tip #5 – Improve your drainage

You can improve the drainage around your property by regrading and landscaping. You want water to drain away from your home. Landscaping can also help with water retention.

While no one wants sewer backups to occur and wreak havoc on the home unfortunately it can happen. Having prepared as best as you can for this type of situation will help to mitigate the circumstances and lessen the impact of any damage. Talk to your broker about sewer backup insurance coverage for your home and ask about discounts and funding for mitigation devices.

Protecting your home with sewer backup insurance

The good news is you can further protect your home with sewer backup insurance. By adding this extra insurance coverage to your home insurance policy you protect your home and your belongings from claim costs that arise from a backup or discharge from a sewer or storm drain as well as all claims due to an overflow from a septic tank or sump.

While prices for this additional coverage vary from province to province and city to city a typical sewer backup rider will cost anywhere from $50 to $1,500 extra per year. Consider it a cost-effective solution that will prevent you from shelling out $5,000 to $50,000 should your basement become damaged due to a sewer backup.

Keep in mind though not all water damage is covered under your home insurance policy. Sewer backup is often paired with overland water or flood insurance. Since every policy is different and your home insurance coverage needs can change it’s best to speak to your insurance broker. They can help review your current needs and confirm you have the best coverage to suit those needs.