WRAP Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a Building Permit for the WRAP Program?
Yes. You must get a building permit in order to be eligible for WRAP funding. The homeowner should take out the permit. Visit the Building Department at City Hall to start the building permit process. The property owners can designate their contractor to apply for the permit on their behalf. If you have been approved for WRAP funding, the cost of the Building Permit for that work will be covered under the program. Bring proof of your approval for WRAP funding to show the Building Department staff when you apply for your permit. A copy of the Building Permit must be included with the final invoice in order for the subsidy to be processed.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
How long will my sump pump last?
It depends on how often the sump pump is in use. The average sump pump lasts for 10 years but some sump pumps have been known to last for 20 years. Regular maintenance will extend the life of your sump pump.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
I don't know if my weeping tile is connected to the sanitary sewer. I don't know if I even have weeping tile at all. How do I find out?
Please call the City at 905-356-7521 ext. 4212. Staff will book an appointment for a WRAP technician to visit your home and investigate your sanitary sewer service line for a potential weeping tile connection. There is no charge to the homeowner for this appointment. The appointment will take about 45 minutes. Please take the time learn more about the WRAP program and read the application terms and conditions ahead of time and feel free to ask any questions during this appointment.If you decide to participate in the WRAP program be sure to fill out an application form and submit it to the City's Engineering Department. Please be mindful that it may take up to 4 weeks to process your approval form.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
I have installed a sump pump and a backwater valve but I still flooded. Why?
Installing a sump pump and a backwater valve will reduce your risk but it is not a guarantee. You may still experience basement flooding. Some of the reasons you experience basement flooding are:- Ground water leaks through cracks in your foundation wall or basement window wells.
- A severe storm where the volume of rain or snow melt overwhelms the capacity of the sewer. Property Owners should refrain from using water and plumbing fixtures during severe rainstorms since the flows may not be able to enter the sanitary sewer and may back up in the basement through floor drains, shower and low elevation openings. - Your back water valve is closed due to an impending sewer back up but the water in the house is running (taps, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers). Never run the water when the back water valve is closed. The valve will open up on its own once the water in the sewer recedes. Only then should you use your water as you normally would. You can look at your backwater valve to see if the flap is open or closed. Sewers may back-up due to damaged or plugged laterals or clogs in the main sewer.
- Never flush anything down the toilet other than toilet paper.
- Never pour grease down your kitchen sink. Please click here for more information on the effects of fat, oil and grease in the sewer system.
- Your private lateral could be cracked or damaged. Replace your lateral to avoid tree roots from growing through the joints and cracks.- Sagging, broken or collapsed pipes can lead to build-up and blockages in the pipe.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
Is it the City's Contractor that installs the WRAP funded works?
No. It is up to the homeowner to select and hire the contractor/plumber to perform the necessary work under the program. It is up to the homeowner to satisfy themselves and confirm that the contractor they hire is a licensed professional with the necessary certification to satisfy the requirements of the Building Permit process. The City can, upon request, supply a list of plumbers that have attended Plumber Information Sessions put on by the City for the WRAP program and have a thorough understanding of the program requirements and limits.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
Once I install a sump pump and a backwater valve can the City guarantee that I will never flood again?
No. Installing a sump pump and a backwater valve will reduce your risk but it is not a guarantee. You may still experience basement flooding.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
Through the WRAP program, can I get a backwater valve installed only?
You are eligible for WRAP funding for a Backwater valve only if:-Your home has a documented history with the City of prior basement flooding (at least 2 within the last 5 years or 3 within the last 10 years), or-Your home is located within a flood prone area as designated by the City.The purpose of the WRAP funding program is to reduce the amount of rain water entering the City's sanitary sewer system that eventually gets treated at the treatment plant. A back water valve will help protect you from flooding risk, but it is the weeping tile disconnection that will help protect all your neighbours from a possible sewage back-up.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
What does the backwater valve do? How does it work?
Backwater valves are also referred to as "backflow prevention valves" or backflow preventer valves". It is a hinged flap in the sewer pipe that only opens in one direction. It is oriented to be ordinarily open and allow wastewater to flow freely out of your house. However, if there is a back-up in either the sewer in the street or your sanitary service lateral, the flap will close preventing the wastewater to flood back into your basement. As such, a properly operating backwater valve will reduce the risk of basement flooding in your home. It should be installed in your basement at the exit point of your sanitary service lateral from the home or building. Any fixture or device that is located beyond, or downstream, of the backwater valve is not protected and is at risk of backing up with sewage.
Currently there is only one type of backwater valve that is accepted by the Ontario Building Code. It must be a "normally open design" valve. A "normally open" design allows unobstructed sewage flow and allows cleaning tools to pass through the body. The valve is installed in-line on your sanitary service lateral complete with a pit or box with an access lid or hatch to allow for inspection and maintenance. It is not recommended that you cover, hinder or eliminate access to the backwater valve.
Under the current terms and conditions of the WRAP funding program your plumber must install either a Mainline Fullport valve or Mainline ML-FR4 Backwater valve, otherwise the City will not reimburse the cost of the installation.
Please click here for more information on the Mainline Fullport Backwater Valve.
Please click here for more information on the Mainline ML-FR4 Backwater Valve.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
What else can I do to prepare for a flood?
Visit the City's webpage for Severe Weather and Emergencies for more information on what you can do to prepare for a flood.The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) is an excellent resource for information and tips on reducing the risk of basement flooding. Please visit their website at www.basementfloodreduction.com for more information or to download their "Handbook for Reducing Basement Flooding."Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
What is a 100-year storm? Does that mean such a storm comes only once a century?
Actually, no. A 100-year storm refers to rainfall totals that have a 1% probability of occurring at that location in that year. Encountering a 100-year storm on one day does not decrease the chance of a second 100-year storm occurring in that same year or any year to follow. In other words, there is a 1 in 100 or 1% chance that a storm will reach this intensity in any given year.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
What is a sanitary sewer service or sanitary lateral?
A sanitary sewer service (or sanitary lateral) is the underground pipe that carries wastewater or sewage from private property to the City's main sewer. The property line is the delineating mark to determine what portion of the lateral is owned by the homeowner or by the City.Categories: Municipal Works, Sewer Lateral, WRAP
What is a Sewer Lateral?
A sewer lateral is a pipe that is connected from your house to the City's sewer system located in the street. The sewer lateral pipe transfers all of the wastewater produced from your household into the City's sanitary sewer.Categories: Municipal Works, Sewer Lateral, WRAP
What is a sump pit?
A sump pit is simply a hole in your basement or crawl space designed to collect water from your foundation drainage system. Once the water in the sump pit reaches a certain height, a floatation device attached to the sump pump is lifted and the sump pump turns on automatically, pumping the water in the pit away from your house. Once the level in the pit recedes down to a certain point, the floatation device sinks and automatically shuts off the sump pump.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
What is a sump pump and why is it used?
A sump pump is a pump used to remove ground water that has accumulated in a collecting basin, or sump pit, commonly found in the basement of homes. Sump pumps will pump water accumulated in the sump pit up to the ground surface and away from your home. The sump pump discharge is to outlet onto the ground surface or be directly connected (where permitted) to the municipal storm drainage system.In older homes, some sump pumps may currently discharge to the sanitary sewer service, or sewer lateral. This practice violates City By-law No. 2010-61. The City of Niagara Falls urges homeowners to disconnect and eliminate any foundation or rooftop drainage connections from the sanitary sewer system. Many homeowners have inherited their sump pump configuration and do not realize that the pump discharges to the sanitary sewer. If you are unsure if your pump is discharging to the sanitary sewer then please call the City at 905-356-7521 ext. 4212. Staff will book an appointment for a WRAP technician to visit your home and investigate your sanitary sewer service line for a potential sump pump discharge connection.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
What is the City doing to resolve the problem of its aging infrastructure?
Unfortunately, 30%-40% of the City still has the dated combined sewers found, naturally, in the older sections of the City.The costs to separate all these combined sewers found, naturally, in the older sections of the City. The costs to separate all of these combined sewers is in the neighbourhood of $100 million.The City is moving forward with an aggressive plan to eliminate combined sewers, but the number of combined sewers dictates that this will be a long term implementation scheme.Categories: Municipal Works, Water Meter, WRAP
What is the difference between a storm sewer, a sanitary and a combined sewer?
The city sewer system consists of storm sewers, sanitary sewers and combined sewers.
- Collect rain water and snow melt from the surface of the land, streets and roofs and direct it untreated into rivers, lakes and streams.
- It is only intended to carry unpolluted surface and groundwater drainage.Sanitary Sewers:
- Designed to carry sewage to the wastewater treatment plant for treatment and disposal.
- This includes the water from toilets, sinks, baths, and washing machines.Combined Sewers:- Collects sanitary sewage and storm water run-off in a single pipe system.
- This type of sewer is no longer permitted in new developments, but can still be found in older areas.
- Can cause water pollution problems due to combined sewer overflows when sewers become overwhelmed during a rainstorm.
- The City of Niagara Falls invests capital funding into its infrastructure budget each year and is dedicated to removing combined sewers and replacing them with separate sanitary and storm sewer systems.
Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
What is the Weeping Tile Removal Assistance Program (WRAP)?
The Weeping Tile Removal Assistance Program is offered by the City of Niagara Falls to provide funding for homeowners to disconnect their weeping tiles from the sanitary sewer system, and to install a sump pump and backwater valve.The current maximum amount of the funding available per application is $3,900 (including HST).Please visit the WRAP webpage for more information.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
What is Weeping Tile?
Weeping Tile is also known as foundation drain.Weeping-tile is typically a perforated pipe underground drainage system for the foundation and basement walls of your home and is located adjacent to or below the foundation. Weeping-tile is primarily found on homes constructed since 1946 and on some homes prior. Weeping-tile connections to the residential sanitary sewer service were an accepted practice up until 1989.The City of Niagara Falls urges homeowners to disconnect and re-route weeping tile away from sanitary sewers or combined sewers.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
What kind of back-up does the pump have? What happens if the power goes out?
Your sump pump would normally operate on electrical power (it is plugged into an electrical outlet). In the case of a power outage, it is strongly recommended that a pump with a back-up power source be in place. The WRAP program funds the supply and installation of your choice of either a battery operated or a water pressure powered back-up pump:- Battery operated back-up pump: Switches to the battery pump when the power goes out.
- Water powered back-up pump: Powered by your local water supply instead of electricity and depends on your home's water pressure for pumping capacity.If you have an older model sump pump it is suggested that you install a back-up sump pump.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
What will happen if my weeping tile is connected to the sanitary sewer but I choose not to disconnect it?
Please review City By-law No. 2010-61. If it is discovered that your weeping tile is connected to the sanitary sewer then your property will be included on file with the City and you may be required to disconnect it in the future or face possible fines.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
Where should the sump pump discharge to?
The sump pump should discharge to the front or rear yard onto your lawn and away from your foundation. Do not discharge the pipe onto driveways and sidewalks as this could create a slip and fall risk in the winter months.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
Who can I contact about having my weeping tile disconnected?
You can contact the City of Niagara Falls, Infrastructure Section between the office hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to schedule an appointment to have your sewer lateral inspected.
Phone: (905) 356-7521 Ext. 4211/4212
Email: MWRequests@niagarafalls.caCategories: Municipal Works, Sewer Lateral, WRAP
Who is responsible for maintaining sump pump and backwater valve equipment once it is installed?
The homeowner is responsible for maintaining the backwater valve and sump pump. The City does not own this equipment and just like your furnace or water tank, it is your responsibility. Make sure you keep the Owner's Manual when the equipment is installed. It will have instructions on how to clean and maintain the equipment. Keep the manual in a convenient spot near the equipment so you can reference it when you need to. A flashlight nearby is handy too, especially in the event of a power outage.There are many videos on YouTube that show step by step instructions on how to maintain your backwater valve and sump pump. If you prefer not to perform the maintenance and check yourself, call a plumber or knowledgeable repair person.You can also visit the manufacturer's website for details.Backwater Valve MaintenanceThe Mainline Fullport Backwater Valve is available with a clear cover which may be used to inspect sewer drain performance during rainstorms.Backwater valves are mechanical devices sitting in a sewage environment so it is very important that you perform regular inspections. Always reference the Owner's Manual but to help you here are some key points:1.Remove the cleanout plug on the top of the valve and do a visual inspection2.Use a flashlight to properly see inside the valve body.3.Inspect for debris build-up on the body, gate and beneath the gate.4.If debris build-up is found remove it or flush it clean.Sump Pump MaintenanceSump pumps should discharge the water to the home's yard and not be hooked up to the sanitary sewer or discharge into a sink or other drain.Sump pumps may be used heavily or sit for months without use and it is a good idea to perform simple maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape so it is working properly when you need it the most. You should always refer to the Owner's Manual and hire a plumber or knowledgeable repair person if you prefer them to maintain your equipment. Here are some key points to help you:Recommend every 3 to 4 months or at a minimum once per year:Examine your sump pump:-First review the Owner's Manual or check the manufacturer's website or search by the model number of your sump pump.-Check the power cord and make sure the cord is connected to power.-Fill the sump pit with enough clean water to lift the floatation device and activate the pump. Run the sump pump until most of the water is removed from the pit and make sure it is working properly. Use caution: running the pump for more than a few seconds without water could cause it to burn out.-Makes sure the float is functioning and can lift to turn on the pipe when needed. Adjust the float if required.-If you have a battery back-up pump then unplug the pump and see if the battery back- up is triggered. Make sure that it is adequately powering the equipment. Plug it back in once you are sure it is adequately powering the equipment.Maintain your sump pump:-Schedule regular cleaning. Do not wait until your house floods to discover that your sump pump is clogged!-Unplug the pump before doing any maintenance to prevent electrocution.-Remove the pump from the sump. To do this you want to use a screwdriver to remove the pipe below the check valve so that you can remove the sump pump and lift it out of the pit. Place the sump pump over a large bucket and clean it and inspect it.-Remove any dirt, sand or debris that collects within the pump. -Push up on the check valve to release the water contained within. If the check valve does not release any water, it is either jammed or broken: call a plumber.-Remove the check valve completely and rinse it with warm clean running water. Be sure to remove any dirt or debris. Then reconnect the check valve to the pump.-Clean out the sump pit. Scoop out all dirt from the bottom of the pit. Some pits don't have bottoms so you may want to verify with a screwdriver that your pit has a bottom. If it does have a concrete or plastic bottom, be sure to remove as much dirt as possible. -Check the Owner's Manual to see if the pump bearings require grease or oil.-Put the sump pump back in the pit and reconnect any pipes you had disconnected. Again check to make sure the float is functioning. -Reconnect the pump to the electricity and the backup battery.-Test the sump pump to make sure it is working properly by filling the sump pump with water. -Do not postpone repairing or replacing your sump pump. Keep your sump pump in good working condition to avoid costly repairs in the future.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
Why do I need to disconnect my weeping tile from the sanitary sewer?
The purpose of weeping tile is to collect surface and ground water and keep it away from the basement walls and foundation of your home. When it is connected directly to your sanitary sewer service, it increases the flow volume in the sewers during snow melts and rain storms. It is preferred instead that this be directed to your lawn surface away from the house where it can be absorbed naturally by the ground or flow into the stormwater drainage system.Disconnecting the weeping tile from the sanitary or combined sewers will:- Reduce the risk of the sanitary sewer overloading, which could result in sewage backing up into homes.
- Reduce sewage over-flows into the natural environment.
- Reduce sewage treatment costs.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP
Will the City pay to fix any interior finishing and outdoor landscaping that may be required as a result of the WRAP work?
No. Under the terms and conditions of the WRAP funding the homeowner is responsible for this.
Reimbursement will not be provided for replacing interior finishes, such as drywall, paint or flooring or for exterior restoration, such as landscaping, gardening, sod, trees, porches, decks, concrete or asphalt.Following installation, the Property Owner will own and be responsible for the ongoing operation and maintenance of all equipment installed as part of the work, including any associated costs.It is very important that you read each of the terms and conditions so that you understand completely the responsibilities of the homeowner, your plumber, and the City. The WRAP program is technical in nature. If you have any plumbing technical questions please ask your plumber. You may also call the City's Infrastructure Technician at 905-356-7521 ext. 4103 for more information.Categories: Municipal Works, WRAP