What’s a non-return valve?

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A backwater valve prevents wastewater from flowing back into a property. It is optional in many locations but may be required for new construction. There are three types of valves available, with combined valves being the most expensive but least prone to malfunctions. Proper installation and maintenance are necessary for optimal performance.

A backwater valve is a plumbing component used to prevent wastewater from flowing back into a home or business. Many properties naturally prevent sewage backups due to their plumbing design or location. For homes with plumbing limitations or those located below storm drain elevation on nearby streets, a backflow valve can offer tremendous benefits. If the public sewer system is backed up, these valves prevent sewer waste from entering your home through drains and plumbing. Although backwater valves are optional in many locations, some building codes may require these valves for all new construction.

Under normal conditions, the backwater valve allows sewage and waste to leave the house unchecked. If a backup occurs and wastewater starts flowing back to the home, the valve automatically activates to prevent the wastewater from entering the home. When the valve is closed, home occupants are unable to use toilets, sinks, or other fixtures within the building. Once the blockage is cleared and the valve reopened, the plumbing systems can be used again as needed.

Buyers can choose from three basic backwater valve models, depending on budget and local codes. A check valve is the cheapest and consists of a simple ball or flap that closes automatically when wastewater tries to re-enter the house. These valves tend to require the most maintenance and are the most prone to failure. Gate valves are more reliable, but are more expensive than basic check valves. They also require manual intervention to close and reopen sewer lines after a blockage.

The combined backwater valves are the most expensive, but also the least prone to malfunctions. They feature an air filled chamber and a gate that detects a backup and automatically shuts down the line. These valves also reopen the line once the blockage is cleared and have an alarm system to alert homeowners when the valve is opened or closed.

A properly installed backwater valve offers obvious benefits to homeowners. These valves prevent the mess and expense of a wastewater backup in your home and help minimize the risk of unsanitary conditions. At the same time, buyers should be aware that these valves require professional installation and often require a permit from the city or county government. It is also vital to choose the right valve based on the particular needs of each project or location. All backflow valves also require routine maintenance to ensure they perform as intended during a backup.

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