Does your check valve meet your municipality’s standards?

February 10th, 2021

Check valves, sewer backup valves, backflow valves. No matter how you name them, these valves are mandatory in all Quebec residences as per the Quebec Building Code and the National Plumbing Code. Check valves prevent wastewater from the municipal sewer line from flowing back into your basement through fixtures or floor drains during heavy rain.

This makes them especially important for homes situated on a floodplain or in other areas that are prone to flooding.

In this post, the plumbing experts at Plomberie Lalonde in Gatineau will share some insights about check valves including why we need them, what they do, who is responsible for installing and maintaining them, and how to locate the check valve in your basement.

Why do homes need a check valve?

In periods of heavy rain, melting snow, or flooded waterways, municipal drains can become overwhelmed and unable to channel the excess water away from your property. This water build up can easily infiltrate your home through cracks in the foundation and your sewer line. Without a check valve, raw sewage or wastewater as it is more politely called will begin to flow into your plumbing fixtures such as toilets, sinks, washing machines and dishwashers, resulting in a very unpleasant flood in your home.

Needless to say, this type of flooding results in costly remediation, clean-up and repairs.  Insulation and wall coverings may need to be replaced and walls or floors may need to be stripped to the studs or demolished, not to mention soiled belongings.

What kind of check valve do I need?

Municipalities have their own regulations regarding the installation of sewer back up valves. Visit the website for your town or city to find out what is required. This information is usually searchable on municipal websites by using terms including:

  • Check valve
  • Sewer backup
  • Backwater valve
  • Flooding
  • Sewer and wastewater management

Who is responsible for the check valve in my home?

It is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure that their residence is properly protected by a check valve. The City of Gatineau, for example, lists these requirements for check valves within their municipality:

  • Municipal by-laws require all property owners to install check valves in their homes regardless of the age of the building.
  • The municipal by-law provides that check valves must never be fitted to a home’s primary sewer pipe system, but rather to the secondary sewer connection pipes.
  • The foundation drain also has to be protected by a check valve.
  • Check valves must be maintained in good working order and regularly inspected.

How to find the check valve in my home?

Once you research the type of valve that your municipality requires, the next step is identifying what type, if any, is installed in your home.

A few places to look for information about your sewer backup check valve include:

  • Visually search: Backwater valves are usually located in the floor of your basement. They are often right next to a sump pump and sometimes have a rectangular panel on top of them.
  • Your home inspection report should list details from when you purchased the house
  • Your home insurance policy might make mention of your check valve

Who does the check valve installation and maintenance?

While it is up to the homeowner to ensure that a check valve has been installed, check valve installation is not typically a DIY job. It is important for a qualified plumbing contractor to do the work and ensure proper installation in compliance with municipal standards.

Maintenance should be carried out twice a year (spring and fall) to make sure no debris is obstructing the valve. For obvious health reasons, remember to wear gloves if you perform maintenance yourself.

The team of experienced and qualified plumbers at Plomberie Lalonde in Gatineau are here to help you with your questions about the check valve in your home. We are familiar with the municipal requirements for check valves in Gatineau and the Outaouais Region and would be pleased to help you get your sewer backup valve up to code. Don’t hesitate to contact us today!