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Flooding can be expensive and messy.  That is why it is a smart idea to have a flood control system in your house.  Bear in mind that these solutions are for flooding due to storm water.  There is no system that can protect you against a stoppage in your sewer line between the house and the city sewer main other than a high water alarm installed at a low point drain to alert you of an impending sewer back-up.  Here are four types of flood control systems, including advantages and disadvantages.


A standpipe is an open-ended pipe inserted in a floor drain. It must be watertight so any water rising up in that drain rises in the pipe, not out on the floor.  Standpipes have the following advantages:

  • They are inexpensive.
  • They are easily installed into the basement flooddrain(s).

Standpipes have several disadvantages:

  • You will still need to have a sump pump to prevent the drain tile from flooding the house.
  • Use can cause damage to the sewer due to increased pressure.
  • The home may still get water from seepage under the floor through the cracks.
  • You may not be able to use the sewer while flooding is in process.
  • They are ugly.

Backwater Valves

A backwater valve ensures that water only flows in one direction, making sure that dirty water from your sewerage system will not flow into your home.  If water starts flowing backward, the swing gate on the valve will come to life, blocking the drainage pipe.  The advantages:

  • Some valves also can be manually closed.
  • While backwater valves are more costly than standpipes, they are not too costly.

However, these also have disadvantages:

  • You will still need to have a sump pump to prevent the drain tile from flooding the house.
  • The swing gate may not work automatically due to sticking or fouling; in fact, because of this you should consider this a manual system.
  • It requires annual maintenance.
  • It sticks out of the floor and is ugly.
  • Installation requires opening and patching the floor.
  • You cannot use the sewer while the swing gate is closed.

Flood Control Pumps

Flood control pumps actually pump water away from the house before it can enter the house.  The advantages:

  • Very effective; your house should not flood if everything is working.
  • It does not disrupt the interior of your home.
  • You can use your sewer during flooding.


  • Pumps are expensive.
  • They require excavation in the yard and landscaping repair.
  • Semi-annual or annual maintenance is required.
  • The swing gate may not work automatically due to sticking or fouling.
  • It requires an ejector pump that requires electricity and periodic repair or replacement.

Overhead Sewer

An overhead sewer system is designed to run through a foundation wall above the basement level, which puts the lowest opening of the sewer system above the high water line of the sewage main. Since the sewage would have to travel upwards before entering the home, this system makes sewage back flow very unlikely. Instead, the sewage would continue to seek out the point of least resistance.  The advantages:

  • An overhead sewer provides the most foolproof protection, especially in tandem with a battery-operated back up sump pump.
  • It separates the drain tile from the house sewer.
  • Basement plumbing does not tie into the city sewer. You can still use the plumbing in your house and in the basement if the sewer would otherwise back-up due to storm water filling the sanitary sewer system.


  • You may need an ejector and/or sump pump to the house which will need to be maintained, repaired and eventually replaced.
  • Excavation is required on the outside of the house.
  • Other decorating repairs may be needed inside the house.

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