Plugging your drains can avoid sewer backup issues during a floodWhen it’s flood season, homeowners know that it’s not just water from the river and overland that’s a danger. That drain in the basement floor can be a point of peril as well.
When it’s flood season, homeowners know that it’s not just water from the river and overland that’s a danger. That drain in the basement floor can be a point of peril as well.
Sewer backup can send a wet mess into basements and ground-level floors if drains are left unplugged and there’s a problem with the sewer system.
What to plug: Anything that leads to the sewer system. Showers, sinks, washing machines and floor drains can all be sources of sewer backup.
Jim Haggerty, plumbing manager at Scheel’s Hardware in Fargo, says to plug “anything on the lower level.”
Plugging the toilet: When plugging a toilet drain, remove the toilet and plug the opening beneath it, said Brian Brakke, owner of True Value Hardware in Moorhead.
Otherwise, the pressure from the sewer can simply blow out the wax ring that seals the drain pipe.
Despite the advice some give, Brakke said, “It does you no good to put a ball into the toilet.”
Monte Koffler, electrical department manager at Scheel’s Hardware in Fargo agrees.
“Just plugging the toilet won’t work,” he said.
Plugging the sink: In most homes, the pipe running from the sink drain is made of PVC so it’s important to plug the drain at the wall. Otherwise the pressure can burst the PVC pipe.
Have someone else do it: If you don’t want to do the work yourself, you can hire someone.
Carl Meckle, service plumbing lead tech for Laney’s Inc., said their service includes plugging “basically all your fixtures that would be lower than the manhole outside.” They also reroute the heating unit condensation line to the sump pump as well.
The cost depends on the size of the job.
The easy answer: In some homes there is a shut-off valve that cuts off the sewer to the whole home, eliminating the need for individual plugs. So if you’re not sure, take a look around.
That kind of system can be installed if the home doesn’t already have it.
Readers can reach Forum community content manager Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734