• You can protect your home from potential sewer line issues by installing a backup prevention device. Photo: Pipe Spy Marin, Inc. (2013)

  • One commonly-used device is called a Contra Costa valve. Photo: Pipe Spy Marin, Inc. (2013)

  • A Contra Costa valve's ball seal moves out of the way and allows sewer backup to escape outside, rather than inside the home. Photo: Pipe Spy Marin, Inc. (2013)

  • A similar, but less conspicuous valve option is what's known as a "popper". Photo: Pipe Spy Marin, Inc. (2013)

Myles O'Dwyer is President of Pipe Spy Marin. To reach Myles O'Dwyer call (415) 890-6856.
How to Prevent a Sewer Line Backup

LARKSPUR – Homeowners often don’t know they have an issue with their sewer line until it backs up inside their home. Fortunately, there are a couple of proactive measures you can take to prevent this from happening.

One way to avoid a sewer line backup is to install what’s known as a Contra Costa valve. This mushroom-shaped metallic valve is placed at the mouth of your outdoor sewer pipe, at a level lower than the lowest fixture in your home. The pipe opening is blocked by a little plastic ball that sits upon it and seals off the gasses. However, this ball isn’t a hard seal—if the sewer line backs up, it moves up and out of the way, allowing the backup to escape and end up outside rather than inside the home.

While the Contra Costa valve is very effective, it’s also quite noticeable. If your sewer line comes out to an area like your patio where you don’t want everyone to see it, you might consider another option: a “popper.” Poppers work the same as Contra Costa valves, but they can be installed at ground level so they’re not visible.

Myles O’Dwyer is president of Pipe Spy Marin, Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (415) 890-6856 or by email.

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