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Question DetailsAsked on 5/8/2012

Sewer back up; best means of stopping it for good?

So normally I am on here answering questions in the roofing section. However now I need help on my own home.

I am having sewer back up issues on my house. I have been in my house for 3 years and the sewer has backed up three times. The last time was a couple weeks ago. However about 2 months ago we have a check valve replaced. I was told the old check valve was fault and was what was causing the problem.

So I spoke with a local village public works official who suggested overhead drain. I spoke with a few "Sewer back up specialists" who suggested outside check valve system with outside sump and sump pit. I spoke to another plumber who also recommended over head drain, and another plumber who recommended against it.

I'm lost. I know a wee little bit about plumbing, enough to know I don't know what I am doing :) I want this done once and for all. I want some peace of mind. I'm looking for the very best way of keeping my sewer from backing up, once and for all!

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3 Answers


A one way, or check, valve should stop it but if there is a returning blockage that must be remedied. Has the line had a camera run through it to check for obstructions such as roots or collapsed pipe? The common practices in Northern states vary from what is done here so I can't say for sure what you best option is. Hopefully a plumber accustomed to your area will respond.

Do you have proper slope on your sewer line? 1/4" per foot is ideal and 1/8" per foot is minimum here. Again, could be different in colder climates of the North. If a plumber has traced your lines with a camera and found no slope issues or blockages the problem could originate from your service provider, typically your municipality. A check valve should stop this as well. Basically their system gets overloaded and backs up into customer's lines. I've heard of this in older areas where the storm and waste systems are connected. Most have been split but some areas have not been upgraded. Typically you would not be the only one affected by this unless your new check valve was improperly installed so you went from bad to bad again.

First rule out there is nothing left to be inadequate on your end then look into other sources such as the city's main line backing up. It amazes me how many people don't have their entire drain system cameraed when there is a problem. I'm sure you'll find something looking through the pipes.

Answered 8 years ago by Todd's Home Services


Hi, Thanks for taking the time to reply. I really do appreciate it!

So the city sewer system is a system that shares sewage and storm run off within one line. This is a chronic problem for the city, as they have been discussing what to do about it since 2009 or even maybe before, and have actually increased sales tax by .25% to cover the improvements, but all of this might never get done until who knows 2020? You know how governments work!

I was supposed to have a camera run last night at 5pm but the plumber was a no call no show for the appointment. Here I am waiting around like a schmuck for him, how very unprofessional! One other guy I spoke with (who suggested over head drains) said that he starts each job by first camera inspecting and tracing the lines. I think I might pay him to do that separate from the main job just to know exactly what we are dealing with first, slope blockages, cracks etc... so I don't get hit with change orders once the job starts.

In regards to blockages, I am confused though how that would cause a sewer back up if the water is coming from the outside, not from in-home use such as flushing toilets etc...

If a check valve "should" work, and I had a check valve, and had it replaced and it still floods... what could the problem be?! Why isn't the check valve working? I know you probably can't answer specifically, but maybe you can give me some general answers?

I actually went form bad to worse since the new check valve installation created a new problem of ground water coming through the new pit where the interior check valve resides. That ground water didn't happen before, and I suspect maybe the pipe wasn't properly sealed or something and the pressure of the back up caused the water to flood the pit. Just a guess, seems plausible, but what do I know? lol

Thanks again.

Answered 8 years ago by ReliableAmericanRoof


I have a strong suspicion that the new valve was not installed properly based on what you've posted. A blockage in your line likely won't have anything to do problems from the city line. However, an obstruction that does not allow the check valve to close properly can allow water to flow either direction because the valve is rendered useless. I hope you can find a plumber to camera the system for you.

Answered 8 years ago by Todd's Home Services

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