Evaluating the Performance of Backwater Valves as a Lot-Level Approach to Reducing Basement Flooding in Canadian Homes

Sandra Dusolt


Global climate change poses one of the most challenging threats to the protection and longevity of critical infrastructures within our communities. One type of infrastructure that is particularly affected by the increase in extreme rainfall events induced by climate change is our urban water systems, which are not currently designed to accommodate heavy, infrequent flow scenarios. Backwater valves have been developed as a lot-level strategy to protect homes against water damage when sewers are running over capacity during large storm events. Although these devices were designed with the intent to reduce basement flooding, many have failed from sewer surcharge. Observations reported by tradespeople suggest that solid deposition from improper installation and maintenance of the valve is one of the main contributing factors to failure. This research examines the performance of backwater valves using laboratory experiments and computational fluid dynamic modelling. The results of this study can be used to improve maintenance schedules for backwater valves based on individual household usage, increase reliability, and ultimately reduce the amount of economic loss associated with basement flooding in Canada..

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