Be prepared to plug your drains this spring to prevent sewer backup if you live in an area prone to flooding or heavy rain.
"Raw sewage not only can damage building components and carpeting; it also has high concentrations of pathogens that can pose serious health risks," says Carl Pedersen, North Dakota State University Extension Service energy educator.
Deciding if and when you should plug your drains depends on a variety of factors. For example, you should follow local officials' recommendations on when to plug drains in the lower levels of your home. You also should plug your lower-level drains if you plan to evacuate because of the potential for flooding.
You may choose not to plug your drains if you have a newer home. Many new homes have anti-backflow or backwater check valves that should prevent sewage from backing up into the home. However, some of these valves have failed in flood situations, so you must decide if you want the added protection of plugging drains.
If you do not have a check valve, most hardware or home improvement stores carry a variety of plugs to fit different types of drains.
"But do not wait until flooding is imminent to attempt to obtain plugs because they may not be available, or you may have situations in your home where a standard plug won't work," Pedersen says.