Fort Saskatchewan is in a unique position when it comes to large rainfalls and the sewer system.
 
Most of the backups in the city are from roots getting into the pipes or from unflushable materials being flushed through the system.
 
"Fort Saskatchewan is lucky in the fact that we don't have a lot of occurrences where a sewer main will back up into people's basements, I can't say that it's unheard of, it can happen," said Bradley McDonald, manager of infrastructure services with the City of Fort Saskatchewan.
 
In bigger, older cities, they combine storm with sewer drainage. When a massive flood occurs, there's so much storm water in the pipe that has nowhere to go and the system can't handle it.
 
"We're very fortunate that we don't have any of those systems here, all of the storm and rain water is directed to it's own system so it greatly reduces the risk of having a backup in a rainfall event."
 
Several years ago, the Alberta Building Code changed to require a device called a backflow preventer. For many years though, the device was not required, meaning many older homes aren't equipped. 07082017backflowdiagramHow a backflow preventer works. Diagram courtesy Bradley McDonald.
 
"Installing a backflow preventer on the sewer line in your house will help reduce the risk if there's ever a backup in the main in the street."
 
The flap in the backflow preventer flops up, stopping the backflow and preventing a smelly mess in the basement.
 
Installation is relatively easy once a hole is broken into the floor, McDonald recommends going through a professional plumber.
 
The devices do require a bit of maintenance though. A quick clean-out will ensure the trap doesn't get stuck shut or open.
 
Some insurers may even provide a discount for installing a backflow preventer.

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