Brooklyn Sewer Issue By Gowanus Solved With Automatic Sewer Valve

Sewer Service
July 1, 2013

by David Balkan

home sewer system

Some sewer problems require more care and understanding than others to be properly resolved. A recent Brooklyn sewer condition was a case in point.  A home owner in Brooklyn located by the Gowanus Canal was suffering with multiple issues that required some careful thought to address. The city sewer would occasionally backup or become surcharged during heavy rain storms and at other times as well.  Being located right near the Gowanus Creek Canal also meant that during Hurricane Sandy the house got inundated with both flood water and foul sewer water when the city sewer system was shut down during and for a time after the storm. This meant that there were two separate and distinct sewer backup problems.

A combined Brooklyn house sewer

There are three different types of house sewer lines in Brooklyn. There are house sewer lines that are dedicated for either sanitary or storm water flow. In this case a sewer line can either accept rain water flow or sanitary waste water flow, but not both. This would be the case when there is a separate city storm sewer and a separate city sanitary sewer available for connection fronting the property.

In the case of this Brooklyn sewer issue by the Gowanus Canal there was a combined city sewer in the roadway. This meant that the house sewer for the property had separate drain lines inside the house for storm water and sanitary waste water. But that after the point of the house traps for each line the two lines were then combined together by using a wye fitting. Because this was an older house the wye was actually located inside the sewer access pit, in new installations the wye must be located at the property line. The theory is that if a new storm sewer is built by the city the wye can be removed and a dedicated storm water drain can be installed by the property owner to the new city storm sewer. Having separate sanitary and storm lines relieves a great deal of burden on the city’s sewage treatment plants because storm water does not have to be treated. [Read more about different house sewer line connections]

The advantage of a sewer check valve

Backwater valve
Sewer check valve

A sewer check valve, also called a backwater valve, is ideal when the city sewer becomes surcharged during a flash storm or heavy rainfall. A check valve has a flapper that closes preventing almost all backwater from flowing back into a property. It is fine when the condition lasts for only a number of hours and then the public drain system returns to normal operation and the level of the water recedes. This is usually the case with a flash storm or an extremely rainy day. A backwater valve cannot prevent backwater damage over an extended period of time such as occurred with Hurricane Sandy.

The advantage of an automatic flood gate valve

sewer valve
Automatic flood age valve

An automatic knife edge flood gate valve will hold back backwater 100% and do so for an extended period of time. It has an air chamber that forces a stainless steel knife edged gate to close automatically when a public drain system backs up. It is a more sophisticated device than a check valve, requires more skill to install, and is likewise more costly. However for those that suffered extreme damage from waste water backing up into the their properties during Hurricane Sandy or at some other time it may be the solution of choice. The valve has to exercised every three months, but other than that it is a marvelous device.

The level of Balkans professionalism

sewer flooding
A permanent solution to backwater flooding

The Brooklyn sewer line installation by the Gowanus Canal pictured in this post exemplifies Balkan’s level of professionalism and expertise. By installing a check valve in front of the sanitary house trap backwater will be prevented form entering into the house when a sudden and heavy occurs, yet it will still allow the storm line to remain open. On the other hand when a prolonged backwater condition occurs the automatic flood gate valve will close preventing extensive damage from backups into the property from both the house storm and sanitary drains.

In addition by installing a new sewer trap for both the sanitary and storm drain the maintenance and cleaning of the system is much easier. The chance of sewer gases and foul water escaping through old and worn trap plugs is also eliminated. Lastly a clean out was installed in front of the flood gate valve to allow for cleaning the house sewer line without damaging the gate inside the automatic flood gate valve. All Balkan backwater and flood gate valve installations carefully follow manufacturers specifications and instructions.

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David Balkan

David Balkan is the CEO of Balkan Sewer And Water Main, the largest and most trusted service in New York City. David is extremely active in various NYC plumber organizations being the Chairman of the Subsurface Committee in the Master Plumbers Council, and Vice President of the Subsurface Plumbers Association. In addition David’s expertise is respected by officials of New York City agencies such as the NYC DEP, NYC DOB, and the NYC DOT. He frequently provides valuable input on a variety of industry related matters.

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