Today, we’re going to answer in simple terms; do you need a sump pump, or a backwater valve?

If you don’t have all day to read, just know that you should have both if you want your home to be fully protected.

But why is that? Let’s start from the top:

As a plumbing company in Toronto with over 20 years experience, we’ve talked to a number of homeowners that are confused on this topic. They know they need to protect their home, but are just not sure the right way to do that. And often, to their credit, they’ve heard confusing advice on this topic so it’s not surprising.

But really, it’s simple. Your home should be ready to stop flooding during the most severe weather events.

Why Do You Need A Sump Pump?

Sump pump in a sump pit.

A sump pump will stop water from flooding your property.

You need a sump pump to prevent water damage and flooding in your home. It catches and removes water that’s rising underground near your home’s foundation, a sump pump sits in a sump pit that is connected to a French drain aka weeping tile system.

It pumps water out and away from your homes foundation.

Your need for a sump pump comes down to a few specific things:

  • How your property is situated in comparison to the rest of your neighbourhood
  • Does your home sit above or below the natural water line?
  • Are there nearby properties above or below your home?

If your home sits above the natural water line, like most homes, then you probably don’t need a sump pump. But if your home sits below, you will need a sump pump that regularly stops water from accumulating around your home.

If your home sits above the street but below your next door neighbour’s home, then you will need a sump pump. Water from their home will end up draining into your lot and your home.

a sump pump can also be a great thing to have in case of extreme weather events

All that being said, a sump pump can also be a great thing to have in case of extreme weather events. Let’s face it, when insurance companies are talking about our extreme weather, something is up. As there doesn’t seem to be any solution for the root cause of this problem, we recommend you also take this problem seriously and protect your property by installing a sump pump.

Does My House Need a Sump Pump?

Everyone can benefit from sump pump installation.  Especially so in the springtime, when runoff and frequent showers can raise water levels considerably higher than what we’re used to. When that happens, the water can then come back into our homes. This is because the water table has risen above our lots, which causes the water to drain down to your property.

Water damage and destroyed items are an expense that you don’t need, and one you can easily prevent with a sump pump.

When Do You Need A Backwater Valve?

backwater valve sitting on the floor before being installed

A backwater valve is a great way to prevent municipal sewer systems from flooding your home.

Nearly every new home should have a backwater valve installed, these simple devices stop municipal sewers from flooding your home. A backwater valve is incredibly simple.

Under normal conditions it simple sits and does nothing, but when your local sewer system floods and water is pushed back up into your drain pipe there is a valve which closes preventing the water from backing up into your home.

What If I Don’t Have A Backwater Valve?

If you don’t already have one, you might need to have one installed as a requirement of your local municipality. More and more, many cities are making it mandatory for homes and properties to have a backwater valve installed.

Why is that?

  1. It’s better for all homes to protect against flooding
  2. It saves the municipality from upgrading the public drainage systems

While some municipalities make it mandatory, some offer flood prevention rebates to encourage homeowners to install these flood prevention devices.

it might be the law that you need a backwater valve in your home

But whatever the reasoning, it might be the law that you need a backwater valve in your home. But even if you aren’t, a backwater valve residents already depend on is strongly recommended for homes in every part of the globe. It acts as a safety net in case something goes wrong, and will protect your home in those emergencies that could ruin your basement.

Do I need a Sump Pump or a Backwater Valve?

the best answer is to get both

So should you get a sump pump or backwater valve? Well, the best answer is to get both, one for emergencies and the other for even bigger emergencies. If you have neither, you’ll need at least the backwater valve, unless your home is below the water table, then you’ll also need a sump pump. A license technician can assist you with the installation of a sump pump.

A sump pump is a good idea for all homes as well, as flooding can happen to anyone. Whatever your decision, be sure to have a professional install your sump pump or backwater valve for the best possible results. An annual inspection is also a great idea to make sure that these systems are working as they should.


Andrew Olexiuk - Your Toronto Plumbing Expert
Andrew Olexiuk - Your Toronto Plumbing Expert
Andrew has over 20 years of experience as a plumbing contractor. He is co-owner and operator of Absolute Draining & Plumbing, a professional plumbing company serving residential & commercial properties across the Toronto, Ontario region.
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