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Protective Plumbing

Protective plumbing is the term used to describe various devices, such as sump pumps, weeping tile, and backflow prevention devices that can help protect against basement flooding and sewage backup. 

Sump Pumps

Sump Pumps are used to re-direct water that is collected in weeping tile, drainage pipes surrounding your foundation, away from your home. Sump pumps consists of a pit found in your basement, a pump, and a discharge pipe. Your sump should be pumping water to an outlet somewhere in your yard. It is important to ensure that this outlet is at least 1 meter (3 ft) from any buildings so that discharged water does not go back into the weeping tile. Your sump outlet should also be located at least 3 m from the edge of your property to avoid impacting your neighbours and causing wet or icy sidewalks.

Some homes have sumps that are connected to the sanitary sewer system. It is important to disconnect these sumps from the sanitary sewer system and instead have them discharge onto the lawn. Adding water to the sanitary sewer system can overwhelm the system and cause sewer backup, especially during heavy summer rains. Additionally, when clean rain water is added to the sanitary system it must be treated which creates additional costs for the City and by extension citizens.

Weeping Tile

Weeping tile is a type of drain that surround your house and collects water preventing it from entering your basement. Generally weeping tiles is made of perforated pipe surrounded by coarse gravel that wraps around your home. It is best to have weeping tile connected to a sump pump in your basement that then discharges the water somewhere in your yard. Some houses in Saskatoon have weeping tile that is connected directly to the sanitary sewer system. If this is the case in your home you should consider getting a sump pump installed by a qualified plumber as there is a risk that your weeping tile can help to overload the sanitary sewer system and cause sanitary sewer backup.

Back Flow Prevention Devices

Back flow prevention devices, or backwater valves, are used to prevent the sanitary sewer from backing up into your house. These valves are opened normally but in the event of a sanitary backup they close to prevent sewage from coming up into your house. It is important not to flush your toilets or otherwise send things into the sanitary sewer while these devices are closed as this sewage will have nowhere to go and will stay in your house. Because of this it is best practice to have a backwater device that has an alarm or check it regularly during rain storms to insure that it is not closed.

My Home Plumbing

How do I know if my home has weeping tile?

In Saskatoon many older homes (built 1965 or prior) do not have weeping tile however, it is possible that it may have been installed after this. Homes built from 1966-2004 were constructed with weeping tile connected directly to the sanitary sewer system. Homes built after 2005 should have weeping tile that drains to a sump pump that discharges somewhere in your yard.

How do I know if my home has a sump pumping system?
The City of Saskatoon has mandated that all homes built after January 1, 2004 have a sump pumping system. If you have an older home, a system could have been added later on. A sump pit may be round or square. Look for a hole in your basement floor that is about 750 millimetres (30 inches) deep. There should be a pipe entering the side of the pit, and there may be a pump in the pit. The pit should be covered with a child-resistant cover.

Is my sump pump working?
You should test your sump pump system every fall; before each spring thaw and before you leave your house for an extended period. Pouring water into the pit should trigger the pump to operate.

Routine maintenance should also be done every fall. First disconnect the sump pump from the power source. If your sump pump is not equipped with a standard plug in, and is hard-wired to the electrical system, call a qualified electrician. Once the sump pump is disconnected from the power source, remove soil, sand and other debris from the pit; clean the screen that covers the water intake; and make sure that the discharge pipe is clean and that the water is discharging at least two metres from your basement walls. Be sure to reconnect the sump pump.

How do I know if my home has a backwater valve?
If you have a backwater device, it is likely located near a perimeter wall in your basement in an access chamber below the basement floor. Most often this is in your utility room, and probably near your floor drain. It might be hidden under carpet or behind stored items. Some homes have multiple backwater valves.

I don’t have a backwater valve or a sump pump. What now?
Sump pumps and backwater valves must be installed by a licensed plumbing contractor. There are many types of backwater valves and sump pumps. Detailed information, including installation requirements and routine maintenance, can be found in the Protective Plumbing booklet.

How Do I Choose A Plumber?

City staff can perform a Property Information Disclosure (PID) search on your property that will tell you what plumbing has been permitted and inspected. To request a PID search, call the City’s Building Standards Branch at the number listed at the top right-hand corner of the page.

It is important that you choose a qualified professional. Plumbing contractors and technicians must be licensed in Saskatoon. Ask neighbours, family and friends for recommendations. Obtain at least two written estimates. Ask for references and be sure to check them. Before making a choice, find out if the work will be covered by warranty or maintenance contract.

A plumbing system may not be constructed, altered, extended, renewed or repaired unless a plumbing permit has been obtained for the work. You must be a licensed plumbing contractor  registered with the City of Saskatoon in order to obtain a permit.