My basement flooded. It wasn’t in 2008 like half of Eastern Iowa, it was in 2009 when we got an excessive amount of rain in a short period of time. The city storm sewers couldn’t handle the flow and started backing up into people’s homes that had never experienced water problems before. I had sewer protection, but I had never had it looked at since I purchased the house and assumed it worked perfectly. It didn’t. In the aftermath I started doing research on sump pumps, backflow preventers, back-up sump pumps, alarms, and any product that had to do with that industry. There is a lot of information out there. After deciphering all of the information I knew the answer was “more is better.” All of this information is again relevant because the cities of Waterloo and Cedar Falls are currently requiring home owners to bring their basement floor drains up to code and in some instances giving homeowners a financial rebate to have the work done.
It is amazing how soon past events become “ancient history”. I think back to what started out as the 100 year floods than progressed to the 500year floods and eventually became the 1000 year floods that consumed so much of Eastern Iowa. At that time everyone was concerned about protecting their basements via sump pumps or generators. But time has passed and now the general consensus is almost back to the reactionary status that it was before 2008/2009. If you are thinking about having your protection looked at, there are two things that I would ask my plumbing contractor specifically about. The first extra step of protection I would recommend is a knife gate valve. It really is as cool as it sounds, think of a guillotine for your sewer. This will serve as a manual way that you can close your house off from the city sewer if you know lots of rain is eminent. This is in addition to an automatic backwater valve that most contractors are going to recommend. The second extra step of protection is a water powered back-up sump pump. This will protect your home even if the power is out. Why water powered vs. battery backup? My vote is water powered because I know that I would probably forget to check on the marine battery and about the time I needed the back-up protection, I wouldn’t have a charge. Water powered back-up pumps use your house water pressure thru a venturi to create the suction you need. Now all water powered backups are not created equal either, we use the BasePump (basepump.com) because of its gallons per minute and because it doesn’t require the installation of an additional backflow preventer to protect your drinking water.
If every time it rains hard you worry about whether or not your basement is going to stay dry then it is probably time to call a licensed and bonded plumbing technician to take a look at your system. Estimates are free and if everything is perfectly protected you will at least have that peace of mind. I couldn’t have finished this blog at a more appropriate time, it is just starting to rain outside.