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Will floor guard/plug in basement floor drains eliminate sewer backflow problems

Will floor guard/plug in basement floor drains eliminate sewer backflow problems


Old 08-31-15, 12:52 PM
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Exclamation Will floor guard/plug in basement floor drains eliminate sewer backflow problems

I recently had a situation where we received an inordinate amount of rain in a very short time span (5" in a few hours). As you can imagine this amount of rain overflowed the sewer systems and most likely cause the Town to close the floodgates, as they were unable to properly treat the sewer water due to the increase in volume. This caused the sewers to then back up into the homes, starting with the lowest points.

In our home we have two floor drains in the basement, as well as a wash tub for laundry. The floor drains were spouting sewer back flow high into the air, which eventually filled the entire basement with approximately 5-6" of sewer water. The water stood for a couple hours and then drained, presumably once the flood gates were opened again by the sewer authority in our area. Luckily our basement is concrete floors and walls with no carpeting or drywall, so the damage was relatively mitigated. It still cost $3,000 to have professionals come and completely take care of the cleanup and drying of the basement.

So, a few days later I went out and purchased two of these floor guards for our basement drains:

Buy Flood-Guard General Specialties 2" Floor Drain Backwater Valve

I installed one in each drain pipe successfully. Now, my major concern is this: in the event we have a similar sewer back flow event due to excessive rain overflowing the sewers... and assuming both of these floor guards work exactly as intended... what would happen to all of the incoming back flow sewer water?

My inclination is to think it will push further up the pipes or stack, and come out at the next point (probably the wash sink in the basement for the laundry). Is this what would happen? Is there any risk of this back flow water going even further up and trying to force it's way out through the 1st floor toilet or sink? (which would be a far worse scenario than having it in the concrete basement) If this is what would happen, why are these products popular and what's the advantage to using them?
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Old 08-31-15, 04:39 PM
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I would have installed a back flow preventor outside the home in the main line.
The plumbers will be along with all the details.
Old 09-01-15, 11:52 AM
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Yes, I'm familiar with the back flow valve to install directly in the main line. If I had a few grand laying around I would definitely do that. In the meantime, I've installed these floor guards hoping they will work in the event a similar situation arises before I can have the valve installed. I am really wondering how effective they are for what I'm looking for them to accomplish and whether or not they could create any potential problems as mentioned in my post.
Old 09-02-15, 01:34 PM
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I've never used or seen these before. I will say that I've used pressure-fit plugs before when water testing the DWV system, and let me tell you, they didn't hold up nearly as well as I thought they would. When filling the pipes up with water to leak test them, after an extra foot or two of water up the vents, they blew out, making quite a mess, though at least it was all clean water.

From the warning on the product page:
For extreme, extended pressure (for instance, where home-made seals have popped out of the line,)
I'd be a bit concerned.

I would also be worried about the backup continuing up your piping to the sinks or higher.

I would suggest you talk to your water provider/town and see if they have any programs to subsidize the installation of a main backflow valve. I"ve heard when cases like this happen, many cities/towns will help out with the cost to help prevent the lawsuits and such that arise after thousands of dollars of damage.
Old 09-02-15, 10:28 PM
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My mother's house has a problem with sewer backups due to heavy rain and/or clogged mains. She had a simple ball check valve installed in her basement floor drain. It was basically a lightweight plastic ball that was designed to float upwards during a backflow of sewage and block off the passage. Unfortunately, it only partially works. To be fully effective, the ball and seat need to be squeaky clean, which just isn't going to happen with a floor drain that receives gray water. She still had sewer backups after the check valve was installed, but I feel the severity of the events was lessened, since even though the ball check did not stop the backflow 100%, it did help reduce the backflow, so not as much sewage backed up into her basement. Her plumber did advise her to install a check valve in the main sewer line, but that would have been very costly, as her sewer line is below the basement floor level, and I still think there would be issues with debris collecting on the check valve and making it less effective at preventing backflow.
Old 09-03-15, 07:25 AM
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I spoke to the Town Plumbing Inspector and received the following advice. The floor guards (if effective) would not cause the sewer back flow to move further up the stack to the wash bin or higher floors (in the case of 5-6" flooding in basement). However, he said the floor guards are not a good solution and in all likelyhood would fail in the face of even moderate back flow from overflowed sewers. He also said the back flow valves installed in the main line are not a good solution either, as even a small piece of debris could close the valve and require maintenance to have it reopened. The optimal solution is to break through the concrete and completely block off the floor drains, and then install a sump pit and sump pump.

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