Flooding: Steps You Can Take To Protect Your
Private Drains (laterals) and the Property
residents do not realize the importance of maintaining what is
known as the private drain.
private drain, or lateral, is the connection from your
property to the main sewer. The drain is usually connected to
the city's main sewer in the middle of the street and carries
waste materials from your home or apartment to the main sewer.
People often believe that the city takes care of this
connection. However, care and maintenance of the private drain
- from your home to where it connects to the main sewer - are
the property owner's responsibility.
back ups in your basement can be reduced by keeping the
private drain clear of tree roots, grease and other materials
and by repairing broken private drains.
A licensed plumbing contractor can inspect
your private drain and either clean it or make repairs.
You should have your private drain inspected
regularly. The private catch basin on you property should also
be inspected and cleaned regularly.
How to Floodproof your Basement
Despite the best efforts of the Department of
Public Services to alleviate basement and street flooding,
some rain storms will strain the sewer system and cause
problems for some property owners.
This portion deals with basement floodproofing
devices that you the property owner can have installed. Most
of these items require the use of a licensed, professional
Before having any work done on your plumbing
system, get a number of estimates from different contractors.
After reading the following descriptions, you
should be better able to consult with a plumbing contractor
about which device best suits your needs.
The overhead sewer system diverts sewage from
plumbing fixtures on the first and higher floors to a new
sewer line run above the basement floor. This line is
connected, either in the basement or outside the foundation,
to the original house sewer as it leaves the building.
old sewer system is sealed. Any drainage from the basement
level is pumped up into the overhead sewer.
This system is probably the most effective,
but also the most expensive. Power outages will cause pumps to
fail but upstairs plumbing fixtures may still be used. Only
basement plumbing fixtures cannot be used.
Valves use a gate-like device to keep water
from backing up into your basement. There are a number of
types of valves.
1. A simple, hand-operated gate valve
installed in the private drain can prevent back flow from
the main sewer if the valve is closed before the main
sewer backs up. The disadvantage with this valve is that
it must be closed manually and you cannot use your sewer
system until the valve is opened again.
2. An automatic back up (check) valve closes
as soon as water begins to flow up the private drain from
the main sewer.
3. The combination automatic backwater valve
and a sewage ejector pump are another option. This unit
operates when the backwater valve closes and plumbing
fixtures, etc., build up to a level behind the valve that
activates the ejector pump. The pump is able to pump water
against the pressure of the sewer backwater.
The advantages of these valves include:
in the case of the hand-operated valve, someone must be home
to close it. Also, the gates of the automatic and
combination automatic sewage ejector need to be frequently
checked to ensure they are not being blocked by debris.
Any of these systems must be
installed by a licensed plumbing contractor. A permit is
required and a plan of the work must be submitted to the
Department of Building & Zoning for approval.
Standpipes are lengths of pipe open at the
top and screwed into the basement floor. They hold sewer
overflow until it recedes. Standpipes are generally
inexpensive, easy to install and do not require a permit.
They also help relieve pressure caused by back ups.
However, using standpipes over 12 inches
tall or capping a standpipe may rupture sewer pipe joints
under the basement floor. Also, the protruding pipes may be
tripped over and basement floor drains cannot be used until
standpipes are removed.
Plugs are plastic or metal devices fitted
into floor drains to prevent water back-up. They are not
useful if you expect over 3-4 inches of flood water.
Plugs are generally inexpensive, easy to
install, do not require a permit and can be installed flush
with the basement floor. Do not use plugs if you expect
flooding to exceed 3-4 inches. Severe flooding may cause
ruptured pipes or cracking in the basement floor. Plugs must
be removed to restore drainage.
Other Ways to Help Alleviate Minor Flooding
Here are additional tips to help prevent
dump anything into street or alley sewers. Leaves, grass
clippings, motor oil and other items pose a hazard to
people working in the sewers.
Make sure that
curbside gutter boxes are not covered by trash, leaves,
papers or other items. When these structures are blocked,
water cannot drain from the street and will cause street
private drain and catch basin regularly. Also have them
inspected at least once a year.
information about the sewer system, call the Department of
Public Services at (618) 251-3122, Monday through Friday
between 8:30am and 4:30pm.
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Wood River, Illinois 62095
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