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Flood Protection - Septic System

One thing you definitely not want in case of a flood is having the content of your septic tank pushed back in your living room. It is beyond this article to describe how a septic system works. Fact is, what is going out might come back in - and more! It is especially important if you have a washroom in your basement or in the lower level of your house. Most people forget this fact when fighting a flood. I saw people piling up sandbags in the yard while the house was flooded from the inside.

The best way to prevent such a surprise from happening is to install a proper back valve in the main outlet of your house. There are some good systems available which are very effective, inexpensive, and easy to install.
Please check the links section for manufacturer of such devices (links provided by Tom Ruta).

There might be 3 kinds of drainpipes going out of your house:
  • the toilet
  • the wash tub
  • outlet of your washer
Closing up the toilet should not be a problem. Everything that blocks the outlet at the bottom of your toilet should work fine. Just make sure it is heavy enough not to get floated out but can pulled out after it is no longer needed. A cheap and very effective way to do this is by using a balloon from your kids birthday. You also will need a small piece of pipe and part of a garden hose. The picture below describes how to assemble the parts.

Toilet

Apply glue on the pipe.
Pull the balloon about half over one end and secure it with a clamp.
Push the garden hose over the other end and secure it with a clamp.
Make sure everything is tight and perfectly sealed.


To use it just push the end with the balloon down the toilet. Connect the hose of a manual hand pump (from your camping supply, for example) to the open end of the hose and pump the air into the balloon until it is tight and seals of the drain pipe. Then close the hose by sticking something tight into the opening so no air can escape.

You also could fit a connector to the open end of the hose and connect it to the water line. The pressure of the water should expand the balloon to a good fit. Then shot off the water. Donít forget to put a towel around the hose before disconnecting it from outlet.

Closing the wash tub might be a little more complicated because of the overflow safety opening on the upper part. Just blocking off the openings might not do any good. The best way is to disconnect the pipe from the tub and close it there. Usually the pipes are plastic and are screwed together. Simply go to your hardware store and buy a lid to screw it on top of the pipe. If that isnít possible you still can use a balloon or fold a strong foil over the pipe opening and secure it tight with a clamp.

Donít forget the drainpipe from your washer. Itís usually just an open pipe you can easy access. A foil secured by a clamp should do the trick.

Identify all drainpipes in your basement or in the lover level of your house and prepare the tools to close them. You could mark them according to the place they are prepared to use and store them together. Donít forget the opening for your dryer. When needed you will be able to secure all drainpipes in a few minutes.

The determination weather you will need these precautions or not depends on the design of your house. Water doesnít climb up the pipes. It just levels out. If all your drainpipes are in save altitude above the ground you should have nothing to worry about.