Frequently Asked Questions

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1 Protective Plumbing Incentive Program Frequently Asked Questions PROTECTIVE PLUMBING INCENTIVE PROGRAM QUESTIONS What is the purpose of the program? The purpose of the program is to offer owners of older homes an incentive to reduce their risk of sewer backup. The program is currently limited to homes built before 2000 and having had sewer backup. The program may be expanded in the future to include homes that have not had sewer backup. What is the program process? The process starts with you completing and returning the application form and required documentation. Your application and documentation will be reviewed by City staff. If your application and documentation are found to be in order, a cheque equivalent to your eligible costs will be mailed to your address. In the unlikely event that available funding for the program has been exhausted at the time of your application, your application will be processed as soon as additional funding is approved by City Council. If there is a problem with your application or documentation, you will receive a letter explaining why your application was denied or what additional information is required to process your application. Depending upon the response to the program, this whole process may take up to eight weeks. What is the total amount of the incentive? The program covers up to $2,500 of eligible costs. Eligible costs are: The cost of purchase and installation of an approved backwater valve; the cost of removal and replacement of concrete floor slab; and the cost of a new plumbing permit or half the cost of a retroactive plumbing permit. Why is the eligible amount limited to $2,500? Based on the City s experience with its previous Protective Plumbing Program and an evaluation of similar programs offered by other municipalities, $2,500 is more than sufficient to cover the eligible costs. Will the City perform the work? The City does not offer installation services for this program. Can I do the work myself? Yes. You must obtain a plumbing permit and complete a Homeowner Plumbing Declaration Form. Both are available at Planning and Development Services on the first floor of City Hall. City of Lethbridge Protective Plumbing Incentive Program Frequently Asked Questions January 20,

2 PROTECTIVE PLUMBING INCENTIVE PROGRAM QUESTIONS Continued Does the City have a list of recommended contractors? No. The City does not endorse or recommend any specific contractors. Information from Service Alberta on choosing a contractor is included in the Protective Plumbing Incentive Program application package. Why is the program limited to homes built before January 1, 2000? The National Plumbing Code of Canada was revised in Prior to that time in line backwater valves were not provided in new homes. The intent of this program is to offer current levels of protection to homes built before Why is the program limited to homes that have experienced sewer backup? The intent of the program is to first help those at greatest risk. In the future, the program may be expanded to include homes that have not had sewer backup. Why does my insurance company have to provide a letter confirming the occurrence of sewer backup? This is the only way that the City can know if the damage to your home was caused by sewer backup. The backwater valve covered by this program only reduces the risk of sewer backup, it will not reduce the risk of basement flooding from other causes. Is a Proof of Loss Statement acceptable in lieu of a letter from my insurer? No because a Proof of Loss Statement is not confirmation of the occurrence of sewer backup. City of Lethbridge Protective Plumbing Incentive Program Frequently Asked Questions January 20,

3 PERMIT QUESTIONS What is a plumbing permit? Plumbing permits are issued by the City of Lethbridge, Planning and Development Services Department. A plumbing permit gives you legal permission to start work. Permits are followed by inspection of the completed work by certified Safety Codes Officers employed by the City of Lethbridge. Why do I need a plumbing permit? The Public Safety Division of Alberta Municipal Affairs administers the framework established in the Safety Codes Act. Under the Safety Codes Act, the City of Lethbridge is the authority having jurisdiction and administers the Safety Codes Act through permits and inspections. The Safety Codes Act requires that all contractors and homeowners in Alberta obtain permits prior to commencing work on buildings covered by the Alberta Building Code. Why does the work need to be inspected? Inspection by a certified Safety Codes Officer ensures that the work conforms to the safety standards that have been adopted under the Safety Codes Act. Why did the work not pass inspection? In general, failure to pass inspection means that the work does not comply with the intent of the Safety Codes Act regulations. This can happen for any number of reasons. A common reason for backwater valves to not pass inspection is that the installer did not follow the valve manufacturer s installation instructions. What happens if the work doesn t pass inspection? Whatever deficiencies that led to the work being rejected will need to be corrected. In some cases this means that the work will need to be completely redone. You should discuss this with the contractor that performed the work. Whose responsibility is it to obtain a plumbing permit? The contractor or person performing the work must obtain the permit, but ultimately it is the homeowner s responsibility to ensure that a permit is obtained and the work is inspected by a Safety Codes Officer. A homeowner cannot obtain a plumbing permit for work done by others. Why didn t my contractor obtain a permit? The City has no way of knowing. All local licensed plumbing contractors are aware of permit requirements. What is a retroactive plumbing permit? Retroactive permits are required when a permit is obtained after the work has been completed. As a penalty for not following the City s permit requirements, the cost of a retroactive permit is double the cost of a properly applied for permit. City of Lethbridge Protective Plumbing Incentive Program Frequently Asked Questions January 20,

4 PERMIT QUESTIONS Continued Why is only half the cost of a retroactive permit eligible? The increased cost of a retroactive permit is not eligible because it is intended to be a penalty for not following the proper procedure of obtaining a permit before starting the work. You should discuss responsibility for this cost with your contractor. City of Lethbridge Protective Plumbing Incentive Program Frequently Asked Questions January 20,

5 BACKWATER VALVE AND SEWER BACKUP QUESTIONS Will the backwater valve prevent sewer backup? The backwater valve will reduce the chance of sewer backup. Sewer backup can still occur if there is a blockage in your service connection, if the valve isn t maintained or if excessive water is used in the home when the valve is closed and protecting your home from sewer backup. Seepage and basement floor slab cracking can also occur as a result of poor lot grading practices when the valve is closed and protecting your home from sewer backup. Examples of poor lot grading practices are: not extending eavestrough downspouts; uncovered window wells; less than 10% slope away from foundation walls; use of gravel fill adjacent to foundation walls and; planting beds adjacent to foundation walls What can I do about poor lot grading practices? Extend eavestrough downspouts away from foundation walls to an area of your lot that slopes away from your home towards an adjacent street, lane or park. Do not extend your eavestrough downspouts towards your neighbour s property. Cover all window wells. Using compacted clay fill, build up the ground adjacent to foundation walls so that there is at least a 10% slope away from your home. Replace gravel fill adjacent to foundation walls with compacted clay fill and ensure that there is a 10% slope away from your home. Move planting beds away from foundation walls. Does the City have an incentive program for correcting poor lot grading practices? The City of Lethbridge does not offer a incentive program for correcting poor lot grading practices. What is an eavestrough downspout? Eavestroughs collect the rainwater that falls on your roof. Downspouts are vertical pipes located at the ends of eavestroughs that convey collected rainwater down to ground level. Downspouts should have horizontal extensions so that rainwater is carried far away from the home s foundation walls. How can I guarantee that sewer backup will never occur? An overhead sewer system offers increased protection against sewer backup. An overhead sewer system connects all basement fixtures to a sealed sump. A pump in the sealed sump discharges wastewater to the home s service pipe. An overhead sewer system is still subject to mechanical or electrical failure and does not protect against seepage or overland flooding. Does the City have an incentive program for installation of overhead sewer systems? The City of Lethbridge does not offer an incentive program for installation of overhead sewer systems. City of Lethbridge Protective Plumbing Incentive Program Frequently Asked Questions January 20,

6 BACKWATER VALVE AND SEWER BACKUP QUESTIONS Continued Will my participation in this program affect my neighbors? All homes with basements below the level of the adjacent street are at risk of basement flooding. Although basement flooding occurs more often in some neighbourhoods than others, there is no evidence that suggests installing a backwater valve increases the risk to adjacent properties. Is a normally open backwater valve installed outside of the house eligible for the program? No, only backwater valves installed in a basement are eligible for the program. City of Lethbridge Protective Plumbing Incentive Program Frequently Asked Questions January 20,

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