3. What is a backwater sanitary valve and how does it work?
A backwater sanitary valve is a type of check valve that is designed to only allow flow in one direction. Different backwater sanitary valves work in different ways, but in general, the type of device that is used in sanitary sewer scenarios works like this:
4. How a backwater sanitary valve works
- The valve is normally in an open position: the “ball” (or “flap/gate”) is open.
- When a backflow condition occurs, floats under the gate lift it up and start to block the backflow.
- If the backflow condition increases, the gate/ball closes against a gasket and creates a seal which does not allow water to pass in the backwards direction.
When the backflow condition ends, the gate/ball falls back down due to gravity and returns to the open position to allow normal outflow of sewage from the home’s plumbing system.
5. How does one install a Cyclone backwater sanitary valve?
There are a couple different types of backwater sanitary valves and they are installed in different ways. The location of installation needs to be downstream of all fixtures to offer full protection, in addition to any other manufacturer’s requirements that may exist. Installation of a backflow prevention device is simple, but some times this work is best undertaken by a licensed and qualified plumber, and it may require a Plumbing Permit from the City. Knowing if your foundation drain goes to the sanitary sewer or not is critical, and ideally, it should be redirected. Because there are a number of code requirements pertaining to backwater sanitary valves, a plumbing permit is some times required for installation. A plumbing inspection will allow for confirmation that the contractor has installed it correctly. A note of caution, while contractors are aware of this, they do not always acquire a permit or even inform you that one is required.
6. Does a Cyclone backwater sanitary valve guarantee that a backup will not occur?
NO. Cyclone Valve products offer a lot of protection, There is no guarantee that a sewage backup will not occur because of a number of factors:
- Installation: The device needs to be installed correctly, including the location, orientation and position. If the plumber is not diligent in ensuring that the Cyclone’s specifications are followed, the device may not operate correctly. It is therefore worthwhile taking the time to understand the requirements of the device being installed and verify the contractor’s workmanship. Some issues are as follows:
- The Main Sewage Valve device must be located downstream of all sanitary fixtures yet upstream of any connection from the foundation drain.
- Each device has directionality to it, in that it will only work if oriented correctly. Devices therefore usually have clearly illustrated arrows on them.
- Your foundation drainage complicates things: If your home’s foundation drainage is collected by a sump and then discharged to the lawn, a backwater sanitary valve has a good chance of being suitable. If your foundation drain is connected to the sanitary sewer, the best scenario is to sever that connection. A connected foundation drain is problematic for two reasons:
- If the connection is downstream of the backwater sanitary valve, during a backup sewage will not backup into your home, but will backup into the drainage materials around your foundation, including the weeping tile.
- If the connection is upstream of the backwater sanitary valve, then in all likelihood, when the valve closes during a rainfall event the drainage of groundwater around your home may backup into your basement, since it cannot get away.
- Maintenance: Cyclone valves are maintenance-free items. They are mechanical devices in a dirty environment may requiring regular maintenance and cleaning to best ensure they will operate properly during a backflow condition. Cyclone’s recommendations for the type and frequency of maintenance should be followed:
So, your best chance for making a backwater sanitary valve work for you is knowledge – to learn a bit about how it should be installed and verify your contractor or yourself is doing it right (to the best of your ability), make sure your foundation drainage is not tied in to the sanitary lateral, learn how to maintain it and learn the do’s and don’ts of water usage when you have one installed. Most building codes require owners to install a backflow prevention valve to minimize the chance of flooding at properties with drains that meet the specification mentioned above. A backwater valve can be installed in the basement at the exit point from the home or building, or in the sewer lateral outside of the building. The “lateral” is the underground pipe that carries sewage from private property to the city’s sewer main.