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Simple valve could prevent sewage backup flooding, plumber says

By Mike Anderson | Posted - Feb. 24, 2017 at 10:00 p.m.


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GARLAND, Box Elder County — While many of homeowner Cindy Wiggins's neighbors are holding back groundwater flooding, she's facing a nastier problem.

“It just bubbles,” Wiggins said, describing the sewage that came up into her basement. “It just came into the hallway, through the wall into (another) room, and then it came up through the shower.”

Now, a pump runs 24 hours a day just outside her house, pumping water from the sewer and into a storm drain.

Wiggins said she’s learned to find comfort in the loud rumbling noise.

“That is what keeps me sleeping,” Wiggins said. “There was one time I woke up in the middle of the night and it wasn’t running, and I started to get the panic feeling again. And then within five minutes, (city workers) were there, filling it up with gas.”

Dozens of homes in Northern Utah have had sewage backup flooding this winter. City leaders in Garland declared a state of emergency on Thursday, as hundreds of homeowners continue to battle rising waters.

Plumber Zack Craghead says he’s dealt with a lot of sewer calls this winter.

“It usually takes something like this for people to realize, ‘Oh, I need to see what I’ve got in my home,’ or ‘Oh, I’m backing up. We need to do something about it,’” he explained.

Craghead, who works with Mike Norr Plumbing in Tremonton, said a waste backwater valve could stop backups before they make it inside.

“It’s pretty simple,” Craghead explained, holding up the T-shaped pipe attachment with a swiveling lid inside. “There’s just a flapper there, and a seal.”

Craghead said most homes built in the 1990s and after already have a backwater valve installed. Older homes might not have that protection. He said most people would need a plumber to install one, since it often requires jackhammering into the ground.

“Save(s) you thousands of dollars from sewage backing up into your house,” Craghead pointed out.

Unfortunately, backwater valves can't be installed when homes are having sewage problems, so Craghead said it's something homeowners might want to think about before the next flood season.

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Mike Anderson

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