Can a Flash Flood Affect My Chicago Plumbing?

Can a flash flood affect my plumbing

Earlier this summer, some major rainstorms hit the Chicagoland area, causing severe property damage, extensive power outages, and even some major flooding in the northern suburbs and up into Wisconsin.

When severe weather hits, the first priority of many Chicagoans is to keep their families safe. Downed trees and power lines, broken windows, and heavy winds all pose a threat to Chicago homes, but there is one critical threat that many homeowners tend overlook – until it’s too late.

As we are so wont to do, we’re talking about your plumbing! During periods of heavy rain, plumbing systems around the city are at a significantly increased risk of backup – putting more homes in danger of significant flooding incidents.

How a Flash Flood Can Affect Your Chicago Plumbing

Why does a little rain pose such a big threat? During periods of heavy rain, some Chicago neighborhoods combine their sanitary systems with their storm water systems.

When these two systems combine, the amount of water can be, in a word, overwhelming for the city’s somewhat-dated systems; as the water main becomes filled beyond capacity during the deluge, all that excess water will seek the path of least resistance, which often means finding a new drainage route – through a floor or plumbing drain in the lower levels of your home.

At best, this will lead to a small backup and, perhaps, a foul odor. At worst? You’re in for a major basement flood, one that could put you on the hook for thousands of dollars in remediation and repair costs.

Can I Protect My Home From Catastrophic Flooding?

Once a flood hits, there is, unfortunately, little to do except take the steps necessary to protect the health and safety of you, your family, and your personal property – including calling out a plumber to take a look at your system as soon as possible!

Instead of waiting for the worst to happen, it’s important to be proactive! There are two systems that you can put in place to keep your basement or lower level safe from the threat of a major backup: an overhead sewer or a backwater valve.

While these systems work to similar ends, it’s important to consult with a plumbing professional about which type will be the best fit for your home.

Backwater valves are typically installed in the foundation of your home, above the main sewer line; other types are positioned outside of the home, directly on the sewer line.

In either case, a backwater valve, to put it simply, is a mechanical device that forces water to flow in one direction – that is, away from your home. While the valve will allow water from sinks, toilets, and tubs to flow out of your home and into the sewer system, it will automatically prevent backed up water from re-entering the home via a backwater flap, which automatically shuts closed in the event of a detectable backup.

An overhead sewer will also prevent backups, albeit through different mechanisms. With an overhead sewer system, a pump is installed underneath the basement floor; this pump intercepts sewage that flows into your basement’s fixtures floor drains.

Once the water is intercepted, an ejector pump jettisons this unwanted sewage up and above the flood level, which will allow it to drain properly, via gravity, back to the sewer service line.

Many newer homes will come with one of these systems already in place; if you’re noticing flooding despite already having a backwater valve or ejector pump/overhead sewer system, you may want to call in a professional to inspect or service your home, as the systems may be malfunctioning (or there could be another issue in play).

If you’re interested in adding one of these highly effective flood prevention solutions to your basement, don’t hesitate to drop J. Blanton Plumbing a line! It’s important that you consult with a professional to evaluate your home before making a decision about which method to put in place, as there are a number of factors and requirements that will affect what you can do - including the preexisting condition of your system, government regulations, and the specific layout of your home.

For a free estimate or service, day or night, our team is here and happy to help!