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Perhaps the worst type of water loss a homeowner can experience is sewage water in their basement. Unfortunately in Kansas City it can be quite common, especially given the fact much of our area uses a combined sewer system.
What is a combined sewer system?
The EPA provides a good explanation of a combined sewer system, but it’s basically when the city’s main sewer lines are tied into the city’s storm drainage system. Below is a simple diagram that shows you what happens. Both sewage and rain water flow through the same pipe and are sent to their appropriate destination:
(Image provided by WessexWater.co.uk)
But in most municipalities efforts have been undertaken to make sure these systems are completely separate and for good reason…
Why can it cause my basement to flood with sewage water?
Under normal circumstances, a combined sewer line can perform the tasks of transporting sewage to treatment facilities as well as rain water to proper exits. However, when there is a very hard rain, the system becomes over taxed. It’s at that time that big problems can occur.
When too much water and sewage are traveling through a combined sewer line, a small obstruction (or no obstruction at all) can result in a sewage backup that floods your basement. Water always seeks the path of least resistance. In the diagram above, it’s easy to see that path is straight into your home!
Luckily, Kansas City has embarked on an effort to update the city’s municipal sewer and drainage systems, but even that won’t protect you 100% of the time!
What can I do to make sure I don’t get sewage flooding my basement?
The single best thing you can do in order to make sure you don’t end up needing the services of a Kansas City water restoration company is install a sewage backflow preventor outside of your house. As the device’s name suggests, it stops water from backing up your sewer line and escaping into your home. Depending on the complexity of the task, it usually costs less than $1000 to have a licensed plumber install the device and protect your basement from sewage backups!