Sewer Backup Prevention

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Background: I have a 1955 raised ranch with a full bath and a kitchen on the main floor, both have sewer lines that go straight down into the basement floor. The basement is unfinished but I have plans to frame and start the finishing process during the summer of 2013. This includes adding an additional full bath.
The Issue: Once a year or less the floor drain in my basement has sewage come up from it and spills across the basement floor. Most incidents are minor and may get 20% of the basement floor wet, but once the entire basement had 2-3" of sewage and it came from the floor drain and the cleanout in the main stack from the upstairs bathroom. (cleanout is only 2" above the floor)
Possible Solutions: A: Permaseal quoted me the highest at $7000 for a solution that would utilize the same gravity feed system but with a pit to allow for use during backflow issues. This involves a double backflow valve, T splitter to allow sewage from house to spill into a pit when the valves shut, and an ejector pump to force the sewage out in front of the valves when sewers are backed up.
B: Plumber 1 quoted me at $5k for a whole-house ejector pump solution. The main line from house would dump into the pit, an ejector pump would pump the sewage 6ft vertically and then back down into the main line out of the house. This creates a mock overhead system to prevent backflow from the city.
C: Plumber 2 quoted me at $5k for a "basement only" ejector pump solution. The floor drain would sealed shut, main stack from second floor bathroom replaced with PVC so that the cleanout is 2ft higher, and install an ejector pump for the laundry tub and future bathroom.
D: Are there others??
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Background: I have a 1955 raised ranch with a full bath and a kitchen on the main floor, both have sewer lines that go straight down into the basement floor. The basement is unfinished but I have plans to frame and start the finishing process during the summer of 2013. This includes adding an additional full bath.
The Issue: Once a year or less the floor drain in my basement has sewage come up from it and spills across the basement floor. Most incidents are minor and may get 20% of the basement floor wet, but once the entire basement had 2-3" of sewage and it came from the floor drain and the cleanout in the main stack from the upstairs bathroom. (cleanout is only 2" above the floor)
Possible Solutions: A: Permaseal quoted me the highest at $7000 for a solution that would utilize the same gravity feed system but with a pit to allow for use during backflow issues. This involves a double backflow valve, T splitter to allow sewage from house to spill into a pit when the valves shut, and an ejector pump to force the sewage out in front of the valves when sewers are backed up.
B: Plumber 1 quoted me at $5k for a whole-house ejector pump solution. The main line from house would dump into the pit, an ejector pump would pump the sewage 6ft vertically and then back down into the main line out of the house. This creates a mock overhead system to prevent backflow from the city.
C: Plumber 2 quoted me at $5k for a "basement only" ejector pump solution. The floor drain would sealed shut, main stack from second floor bathroom replaced with PVC so that the cleanout is 2ft higher, and install an ejector pump for the laundry tub and future bathroom.
D: Are there others??
*I'm not a plumber, but I was wondering what causes the floor drain to back up and could just a backflow preventor be installed on that without the ejector pump and pit?
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Good point, that's an option I was first looking into. The backflow valve is prone to failure so the combination flapper valve and manual shutoff valve is the best type of device. Installation cost is about $3900. Downside is that I would need to be home to manually shut the gate in case the flapper valve failed.
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Flooded sewer system from storm water is the main cause. I already have a sump pump (which almost never turns on) and all gutters have been redirected 20-30ft from the house.
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A back flow valve that's accessible for cleaning is what I would do. Placement could be a problem, but if things are right, should not be that expensive.
Greg
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I would get the entire line a camera inspection from basement to city sewer.... you never know what might turn up.....
my line was full of roots and had a y going to nothing. after a chance bumping into a local congress rep and the head of the sewer authority i found out all 3000 homes in this area had a sewer line wye going to a gravel bed under the home to prevent a wet basement. clearly illegal.....
my line is sectional clay tile....
got a 8 grand estimate to replace line outdoors, plus restoration of a retaining wall, driveway, and sidewalk. but the part under the house needs replaced too, and probably the cast iron main stack... the house was built in 1950. its getting old
with costs balloning to perhaps 20 grand I put rocksalt water down the basement drains which kills the tree roots and keeps the sewage flowing....
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gregz wrote:

Hi, Our city is retroactively modifying older sewer system to take care of increased flood water volume due to global warming. New sub division systems are all constructed according to revised code.
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How is storm water getting into the sanitary sewer?
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What? You think they build two separate systems?
nb
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Well, actually, in most places, they do.....
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TomR: The main line going into the house is 8ft below ground level and the curb is 2ft below the basement ceiling. I believe that by capping the floor drain (it is threaded) and the cleanout in the main stack (unthreaded cast iron) the next point of entry would be the basement laundry tub which is 18" above the basement floor. Since The worst backup only resulted in 3" of sewage on the basement floor this seems to be a viable low-cost option. An ejector pump solution would still be needed for my future bathroom though. (Most cost effective)
Option #2 is to get a combination backflow valve added to the main line at it's point of entry into the house. This is least intrusive and I like it since my 60yr old house hasn't had any issues with it's plumbing except for issues from the city backups. (Least Intrusive)
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Thanks for the info.
If you do decide to use the upflush/pump approach, you could also have the laundry sink drain into the system -- as long as you order one of the models that can handle the laundry sink plus the new basement bathroom fixtures. The system could pump up to a level in the vertical sewer stack that is about the level of the curb sewer vent outside.
And, in case it helps, here's an image link that doesn't exactly show what I was referring to about a higher up vent/overflow line that goes out through the wall to the outside in case there is a backup (so the backed up sewage goes outside before it goes up into the first floor fixtures):
http://chestofbooks.com/home-improvement/construction/plumbing/Standard-Practical/Chapter-XII-Main-Trap-And-Fresh-Air-Inlet.html&h75&wP0&sz &tbnidZUvXxx8iLf6M:&tbnh&tbnw0&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dsewer%2Bvent%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=sewer+vent&usg=__iKxnUFOiUu7sHKnUWuvK3a6z_bw=&docid=awSUG6qnrCH4mM&hl=en&sa=X&ei
But, if you do decide to do what you were thinking by plugging the drain, capping the low cleanout, and doing Option 2 of installing a backflow preventer, you may not need to do the upflush/pump system with the new basement bathroom. You could just cut a hole in the floor and connect the bathroom drain lines to the existing vertical or lateral sewer lines. You would need to cut a hole in the floor anyway to do the Option 2 backflow preventer. And, since the lateral sewer line going outside is under the basement floor, there would be no need to pump anything UP to the sewer line -- it could all just flow downhill into the existing sewer line. The upflush/pump suggestion that I was making was only to prevent a backup if you were not going to do the backflow preventer idea.
Good luck.
P.S. In my situation, the lateral sewer line is above my basement floor, so that is why I need to use an upflush/pump system. But, I am also facing the potential situation that you have about wanting to prevent backed up sewage from coming into the basement. That's why I am looking at options like the ones that I was originally describing for you -- to cause the backed up sewage to overflow outside rather than inside.
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wrote:

prone to failure so the combination flapper valve and manual shutoff valve is the best type of device. Installation cost is about $3900. Downside is that I would need to be home to manually shut the gate in case the flapper valve failed.
I've got this whole house ejector, which works. http://www.tramcopump.com/ResidentialDetails.cfm?ProdID & Wish it was a basement only so the pump would only run when doing laundry. A minor downside with closing the basement drain is water will pool if you get other flooding - sump overflow, foundation leak, burst supply pipe. Power outages are no problem if they don't last long. The tank holds quite a bit and the so do the tiles leading to it. In my case it will also flow into the old sink line catch basin outside. You probably don't have that, or it never would have backed up to the upstairs level. I like the check valve solution best. You might check closely into check valve types The one designed into my tank was working fine after 50 years. It's a heavy rubber horizontal flap in a box. No manual intervention required, and it's subject to constant closing pressure from a loop above it when the pump isn't running. Make sure you know "exactly" how the design will be installed. There are different ways to install, and you may want some input there. Mine isn't the "typical" install shown in the detailed specs.
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The problem with just a backflow preventer is that it will only keep the city sewer water from coming into his basement. It won't keep the waste water from his own house, upstairs, from coming out the floor drain when it can't go out the sewer line to the street.
If you knew the street sewer was in the process of backing up, I guess you could then avoid flushing a toilet, etc, but how would you know?
An ejector pump for the future basement bathrooms and either closing off the floor drain or re-routing it to the ejector basin will fix the problem.
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You might know when it's raining really hard outside and the street is a river. I know from experience. I used to try and pry up a sewer cap but the borough would sometimes put the cap back on. It was a mess.
Greg
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The problem with just a backflow preventer is that it will only keep the city sewer water from coming into his basement. It won't keep the waste water from his own house, upstairs, from coming out the floor drain when it can't go out the sewer line to the street.
If you knew the street sewer was in the process of backing up, I guess you could then avoid flushing a toilet, etc, but how would you know?
An ejector pump for the future basement bathrooms and either closing off the floor drain or re-routing it to the ejector basin will fix the problem.
*Thanks Trader. Now I understand why Dan received quotes for a tank and pump solution.
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One big missing link here is what is the cause of those backups? Is it your line to the street that is the problem? Or some issue with the municipal sewer system that causes it to back up into your house and neighbors? If it's the former, you should fix it. If the latter, then I'd be bitching to the municipality. Having a sewer back up once a year is unacceptable. Assuming it's the municipality and you can't get them to fix it, then let's look at the solutions:

Sounds complicated to me. What's the liklihood all that will work, not get clogged up, etc?


It also creates a situation where you apparently can't flush a toilet, take a shower, etc when the power is out. I would not rely on an ejector pump for the whole house unless it was absolutely necessary.

Of the 3 alternatives, sounds like the most logical to me. Not clear to me why the main stack has to be replaced. Is it cast iron? If so, you'd have to at least cut out a section of it to tap in to. But I wouldn't think you'd have to necessarily tear the whole thing out. With this approach, the only downside is that you lose the floor drain, but it sounds like it's of no use and the source for the sewage, so I'd get rid of it. If you really wanted to keep it, it would seem it could also be tied into the basement ejector pump basin too. And you'd need that ejector pump anyhow when you add a bathroom to the basement. The only bad part to that solution is the price. The materials are what? $500 If you have the necessary skills you could do it yourself.

Not that I can think of.
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Why is the cleanout leaking sewage, it should be water tight, it sounds like it needs some work. You may want to have your drains scoped to see if you have a broken pipe, crushed pipe or tree roots, that way you know if the backup is your own sewage or from the city sewer main.
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Daniel Csoke wrote:

I am facing a somewhat similar situation -- too complicated to try to describe here. I have been considering lots of different possible solutions and I haven't decided yet on a final answer to go with in my case.
In your case, since it is a raised ranch, you may have some fairly simple options. To know for sure, a little more information would be needed.
1) Outside where the curb sewer vent is located, about how high is the top of that vent (the ground level) in relation to the height of your basement? In other words, if you were able to draw a level line from the top of the curb sewer vent outside back into your basement, how high off the basement floor would that be?
If the top of the outside curb sewer vent is say 4 feet above your basement floor (or any amount that is below the ceiling of the basement), I think there may be an easy solution:
The solution would be to cap the existing cleanout and floor drain in the basement. You can cap both in a way that you can open them up again if needed, but they have to be capped to prevent sewer backup overflow into the basement. Then, install a basement level full bath using one of the Saniflo upflush systems from this website:
http://www.saniflo.com/ .
There are many to choose from, and I know a little about the differences in the various models from my recent research.
Have the Saniflo system from the basement bath pump up and into the existing stack at some point that is up near the basement ceiling and is ABOVE the level where the top of the outside curb vent is located. That way, any sewage, bath water, or sink drain water from the new basement bath will get pumped up and out into the existing sewer stack. All of the rest of your existing sewage from the first floor would continue to go out the way it does now.
If the sewer line backs up from the outside, it should then go out through the curb vent onto the ground (because the existing floor drain and low-level cleanout will be capped). If the curb vent is relatively far from the house, you can add a second outside vent closer to the house. It's easy to do, and I can explain that in more detail if needed. And, finally, if you really want a third fail safe system for backups, you could run a backup overflow line from higher up on the stack in your basement (above the outside ground level) out through the wall so that any backup in the stack will overflow outside on the ground rather than back up into the first floor bathtub or toilet. (The reason that you have no backups in the first floor now may be because the backups now come out through the floor drain in the basement which is lower). If you do this last vent idea, you would either need to include a trap in the horizontal line going outside to prevent sewer gases from venting outside too close to the house, or you could end that backup overflow pipe far enough away from the house so the gas smell wouldn't be an issue.
Could you post an answer to Question 1 above when you get a chance? I think that would help in being able to offer solutions.
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What are you talking about when you refer to an outside curb sewer vent? Every place I have ever looked at did not have a curb vent, the line went directly into the City sewer line with no venting of any knd.
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