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Old 2008-03-21, 10:01 PM
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Default Tips to reduce basement flooding

I think we're now all aware of risks from the amount of snow thats ended up on roofs. I just want to make you aware that the next threat will likely be risk of water entry into the basements due to melting of all that snow.

LEAK PREVENTION: With newer homes having concrete foundations, the most common source for water leaking into the basement is at basement windows, the foundation area below doors, and at penetrations through the foundation. To reduce the risk of this form of leaks, remove snow and ice from these areas. [This week, almost every home I've seen has had substantial snow covering vulnerable areas]. This includes removing excess snow from window wells.

LEAKS (Part 2!): For new homes, most foundations are using waterproofing membranes that have been very effective in preventing significant leaks. However, there remains some risk that leakage or weeping will occur at foundation cracks. First, don't get alarmed if you see minor cracks in the foundation, as this is very common. I suggest taking a look at the foundation from the outside. Where you find a crack, remove the snow down to grade level 2 feet in each direction of the crack. Your foundation may also have "steps", where there is a change in elevation at the top of the foundation wall. Also remove all snow to below the top of each step.

BASEMENT FLOODING: Lets face it, our residential streets are a mess. A risk will be blocked or overloaded storm sewers, which could cause a backflow of water in the connection from the storm sewer to your home. At the footing level of newer homes is a drainage system that collects water into a drainage pipe that ultimately drains into the storm sewer system. Part of the system is located in your basement. In a typical arrangement, you will see three drainage components on the basement floor, usually located near your water meter. Two componets are called "cleanouts", which in appearance are plastic pipes with a cap on top. Locate the cleanouts and make sure the caps are tightly screwed down. The third component is the one where I find the most problems. Its called the "back water valve". All too often, I've found this valve to have a loose screw-down lid, or even a missing lid. I've also found water on top of the lid, indicating that they are not properly sealed. The picture below shows you what it looks like. Check the screw lid and make sure its sealed. If there is a backflow from the storm sewer, the water should be stopped at the valve, but if the cap is not properly sealed, water would come up the sleeve and flood your basement.

http://www.ackerhome.ca/admin/photox...cfm?ItemId=605
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Last edited by Inspector Phil Acker; 2008-03-21 at 10:05 PM. Reason: Add image reference
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Old 2008-03-21, 10:12 PM
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Default Sump Pits

One other thing...
If your home has a sump pit, check its operation. Lift the ball mechanism to make sure the pump works. If the sump discharges to an outside gully, then locate the end of the pipe and make sure that when the sump water is flowing, it has somewhere to drain. Make sure the end is not submerged in a pool of water, as this may cause a back-flow due to self-siphoning if there is a power failure.
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Old 2008-03-22, 01:48 AM
bmcnally bmcnally is offline
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Thanks Phil

Great suggestions.
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Old 2008-03-30, 11:21 AM
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The early week forcast is for warmer weather and rain. I'm reposting this message as a reminder to think about drainage.
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Old 2008-03-30, 03:39 PM
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If possible, clear snow around the foundation of your house. This will limit the amount of melted snow flowing down your foundation wall to the footing. With the snow starting to melt, and then rain, our weeping tiles can only handle so much water at one time.
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Old 2008-03-31, 11:45 AM
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do you recommend removing snow touching the sides of the house or digging a trench about 2 feet from the house (all around) so that the snow melts away from the home?

If water enters a home through foundation cracks, is the home builder responsibly for the damage (we have been in our new home for less than a year)?
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Old 2008-03-31, 06:47 PM
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The idea is to allow the snow which is melting, to easily flow away from your house and also reduce the amount of water near your home. In a typical winter, this isn't a concern, but this year, we did have quite a bit of snow. Also, make sure your eavestrough run-off has clear access near the ground so that the water can run away from the foundation. You want to avoid any pooling of water.

Regardless of who is responsible...you being the homeowner will be inconvenienced. You want to minimize your risks.

Last edited by golfer; 2008-03-31 at 08:18 PM. Reason: Correction
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Old 2013-07-14, 02:22 PM
kalW kalW is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inspector Phil Acker View Post
The third component is the one where I find the most problems. Its called the "back water valve". All too often, I've found this valve to have a loose screw-down lid, or even a missing lid. I've also found water on top of the lid, indicating that they are not properly sealed. The picture below shows you what it looks like. Check the screw lid and make sure its sealed. If there is a backflow from the storm sewer, the water should be stopped at the valve, but if the cap is not properly sealed, water would come up the sleeve and flood your basement.

http://www.ackerhome.ca/admin/photox...cfm?ItemId=605
Great tips Phil - Thanks.

The screw lid for our "back water valve" cannot be unscrewed for the life of me trying. The house is 2 years old (2010-2011 build). It could be that some debris got in there when they closed it.

I'm assuming that this back water valve should be checked and lubricated once a year like any "regular" sewer backflow valve?

Kal
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Old 2013-07-14, 06:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kalW View Post
The screw lid for our "back water valve" cannot be unscrewed for the life of me trying. The house is 2 years old (2010-2011 build). It could be that some debris got in there when they closed it.

I'm assuming that this back water valve should be checked and lubricated once a year like any "regular" sewer backflow valve?
To turn the lid, use a 2x6 or 2x4 placed between the tabs on the lid. This should give you enough leverage to turn and remove the lid. Use a lubricant such as petroleum jelly or liquid soap to screw the lid back on.

Referring to the drawing link above, the manufacturer recommends annual preventative maintenance: open the valve lid, check that the valve operates freely, and lubricate the valve [petroleum jelly is recommended].
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Old 2013-07-15, 11:09 AM
kalW kalW is offline
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Thanks for the tip Phil. I still can't get it to budge so I've put it on our Tarion 2-year (due today).

We have an extensively renovated basement so we're considering adding a backwater valve on the sanitary sewer line as well but I'm confused as to why builders always seem to put one the storm sewer first and never the sanitary sewer.

Background:

Our home is a newer 2010 build in Findlay creek where (from what I can tell) our neighbourhood's sanitary and storm sewers are completely separate like this Ottawa.ca picture:



(More information at Ottawa.ca here)

In our basement we have the typical 2 cleanouts and one backwater valve:



I'm assuming that our backwater valve is on the storm sewer and not on the sanitary sewer (I can't get the lid off and run a test to confirm). It does look exactly like the picture you posted from your site:



Questions:

Why do builders put a backflow valve on the storm sewer but never the sanitary sewer? I thought the storm sewer was only connected to the foundation drain outside the house and not anything inside the house. If water was to come back up our storm sewer (and a backwater valve wasn't used), wouldn't the water simply be placed outside the foundation? On the sanitary sewer side however, any backflow would immediately come up basement floor drains, basement shower drains, etc. Considerably more damaging.

So while ideally you'd want to have backflow valves on both systems, isn't it more critical to have it on the sanitary sewer?

A different question:

Why do backwater valves used for sanitary sewers always seem to be completely different from the one you showed above that are used for storm sewers? Sanitary backwater valves usually have a have clear top so that you can quickly see if they're working properly:



Wouldn't it make sense to use a similar one for the storm sewer as well? Is this simply a cost issue? We'll be tearing up the concrete floor to install a backwater valve for the sanitary sewer so it would seem advantageous (and not that much extra work or cost) to also replace the existing storm sewer backwater valve with one with an easy access lid and clear top at the same time.

Thanks!

Kal
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Last edited by kalW; 2013-07-15 at 11:23 AM.
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