For homes in areas of the country prone to flooding or heavy rain, taking a few steps to prepare for water levels that could result in sewage backing up into a home makes sense.
Sewage can enter homes
Sewage can flow back into homes if community treatment plants are flooded or even part of the sanitary sewer system is flooded.
Lori Scharmer serves as a North Dakota State University Extension service agent for Ward County.
In locations where the storm water and sewer systems are connected, rapid and excessive storm drainage can cause water and sewage to back up into your home. Check with your city officials to determine if your sewage system is connected to storm sewers.
Septic systems in rural homes can back up into the home if the system is covered by water. To reduce the possibility of sewage backing into a home, homeowners will need to seal areas where sewage can flow in during periods of excessive rains or flooding. Sewage not only can damage building components and carpeting, it also has high concentrations of bacteria, protozoans and other pathogens that can pose serious health risks. Water will seek the lowest level, so if the level of sewage or floodwater is higher than the drains in the home, such as those in the basement, a backup can occur.
Plugging drains in flood situations
Checklist if you have been displaced from your home:
+ If you have no place to stay go to the Red Cross Shelter.
+ If you have homeowners or renters insurance, determine if you have coverage for temporary housing.
+ If you cannot stay in your home, save money by canceling any utilities and or services that are not needed (gas, electricity, telephone, cable TV, newspaper, home delivered softener salt, etc.).
+ When feasible; contact your employer to inform them of your situation and determine time you may take off from work, if needed. Let your employer know how to best contact you.
+ If an employer notifies you that your place of employment was severely damaged or destroyed and you cannot work; contact your state's unemployment insurance office. Ask about eligibility for unemployment benefits.
+ Contact the agency responsible for any financial benefits you are receiving at home and give them a new mailing address if necessary.
+ Notify your home mortgage company or your landlord of disaster damage to the property. Tell them how to best contact you. If you have lost the copy of your rental agreement or mortgage agreement request a copy.
+ If you have vehicle damage or loss, contact your auto insurance agent. Indicate where the claims adjuster can find the vehicle. Find out how long it will take to process your claim. Ask if you have coverage for car rental. Let the agent know how to best contact you. Request a copy of your auto insurance policy if missing.
+ If you anticipate having difficulty paying bills call your creditors and explain the disaster loss. Arrange payment plans before you get an overdue notice.
+ Determine your present income and available funds
+ Determine you present expenses; living expenses, bills, loan payments etc.
+ Create a spending plan for the immediate future and as you recover, you can access a form to use at (http://bit.ly/iSu1Pk).
When local officials have warned residents to plug drains or if you plan to evacuate due to the potential for flooding, plug all drains in lower levels of your home.
Types of plugs A number of different plugs are available for use in plumbing situations.
Test balls conventionally are used for pressure testing plumbing systems but can be used in emergency situations to seal drains. The ball is inserted into the pipe and inflated with air to the prescribed air pressure. Once inflated, the ball will not allow water to flow in either direction.
The twist plug is inserted into the pipe and the wing nut twisted until the plug is tight. Twist plugs come in a variety of sizes and work well with floor, shower and toilet drains. They can be plastic or metal.
Conical-shaped rubber or wooden plugs can be used to plug drains. These plugs will be smaller in diameter than the pipe to be plugged on one end and larger than the pipe on the other end. The plugs are forced into the pipe and may need to be braced to prevent pressure from pushing them out.
These are permanent plugs that can be installed in floor drains. The plugs have a ball or float that closes off when a backflow occurs. When sewage begins to back up in the pipe, the ball or stopper will float up and seal off the pipe. These valves can be left in place year-round but should be checked at least annually to ensure they are working properly.