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  1. #1
    Joe Tribuzio's Avatar
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    Question JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    After a long period of confusion , i discovered something about my own home
    You see i had, near the front of the home in the basement, what looked like a sump pit only there was what looked like a submarine hatch door. ( SANS WHEEL HANDLE)

    I didn't think it was a doorway to a nuclear shelter or anything. I knew it was some kind of valve.

    After lots of web research and talking to folks, I learned that it was a
    JAY R. SMITH INLINE MANUAL SHUT-OFF GATE VALVE. I'm missing a wheel handle and thankfully I found someone that sells them, even though they suggested that a 3/4 socket would open it in a pinch, for testing purposes. After all, It had not been maintained or operated since the 70's. Still i was assured that since the moving parts were actually not moving, all it may need is a cleaning and lube of some of the parts.

    What also troubled me was how ground water would rise up in the pit. I learned from a friend that the back flow protection wouldn't kick in unless it was a higher pressure. So the small amount of water is not of big concern.

    I plan to do the maintenance and repairs needed, with the help of the guy i'm getting parts from.

    In the meantime... i was wondering if anyone can share good/ bad experiences with this type of flood control.
    Backwater Valves :: 7150 Inline Manual Shut Off Gate Valve Series Drain Backwater Valve


    Joe Tribuzio
    thischicago.com

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  2. #2
    Joe Tribuzio's Avatar
    Joe Tribuzio Guest

    Exclamation Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    ok how about a progress report: it isnt in great shape and i probably should have left it alone.

    First of all, the whole assembly is way deep, like 3 feet lower than the basement floor. I believe it should have been installed so that the top of the cover and valve plate is flush with floor.

    I stopped the constant trickle of groundwater (coming in through the bottom seam of the pit) with some hydraulic cement. Most of the time the top is submerged, which made it difficult to access and view before.

    used wet dry vac to suck out water in the pit. Because the body of the gate valve is cast iron it was corroded.

    loosened the two remaining brass bolts of which there should have been four noticed one bolt was missing, other hole completely invisible under all the gunk.

    could not budge manual wheel handle to close shut of valve, so i tapped it with a hammer, and it seemed to break an air seal cause it started sucking or expelling air for about 15 minutes.
    Now the wheel handle could turn, and so i turned it to closed position as per the semi annual maintenance directions say to.

    Shortly after air stopped rushing, sewer water started to gurgle up, UNTIL it found level, and two holes previously drilled in the side of the pit.
    Meanwhile, i am cussing like mad thinking i was going to flood my house.

    At this point i cant really continue with the maintenance because the entire thing is submerged in black water. All i can do is try to start the bolts and tighten it back down- try to close it up. I realize that the cork gasket will not seal anymore and needs to be replaced, not to mention that one of the brass bolts was stripped and was just stuck in place by gunk.. SO now the valve is leaking, fills pit halfway with stinking sewer water.

    Possible solution?
    I can replace the corroded valve plate, four brass bolts, and the gasket , maybe set an extension adapter in so it will be higher than ground seepage water. pray it all works nice, even if its been a mess so far... i dunno.

    Or i can call a professional with experience working on these old things.

    After all i am not a plumber but someone who wanted to do much needed maintenance, this is my first experience with this sort of thing.
    Leaving some things to professionals seems the wise course of action.

    Am i crazy for attempting this " simple maintenance"?

    Anyone out there give me advice, encouragement, tips, related experiences?


  3. #3
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    I believe I would cut that one out and replace it with a new one. Here is a link to a standard one with no valve.

    Backwater Valves from FAMOUS PLUMBING SUPPLY

    The valve is nice to have in the event the backflow fails and for service purposes. It look like you have about 18" to play with so you should be able to get a new device in with no problem.


  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    Or just buy a new gasket, buy all new bolts, buy a Heli-Coil inserts and tool kit, drill and tap the stripped out bolt holes, install the Heli-Coils, new gasket and new bolts.

    Seems like that would be easier than trying to replace the entire valve.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  5. #5
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    I was figuring about 2 hours to replace. A Sawsall, two short pieces of pipe and two nohub bands. Repair is an option if the housing is in good shape.


  6. #6
    Joshua Hardesty's Avatar
    Joshua Hardesty Guest

    Default Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    What kind of pipe is on either side of the backflow? If it's cast iron, you're going to have a hell of a time cutting it with a sawzall. Regular metal blades wouldn't scratch it. You can get ceramic blades, but it's so slow-going your arm will fall off. A circular saw with a masonry blade on it works well, as long as you can get most of the way around it, the sawzall could do the rest. Your best bet would be a snap cutter, maybe you could rent one somewhere.

    Of course, if it's PVC/ABS, none of that applies.


  7. #7
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    Good point Joshua....Since the house was built in the 70's I was thinking it was most likely ABS..


  8. #8
    Joe Tribuzio's Avatar
    Joe Tribuzio Guest

    Unhappy Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    Sorry, I wasn't clear on when the valve was put it but our house was actually built in 1927. I believe it could have been installed sometime in the 50's.
    Wifes family bought home in 1969.

    The valve body IS cast Iron and buried in concrete, so i cant replace the sucker without great efforts and difficulty or $$$. Thankfully all parts are available, although a few parts are big heavy machined expensive brass, crossing my fingers.

    Jerry, I will probably end up getting the parts and either doing it myself or hiring someone with personal experience to do it.

    What i cant figure out is, why is it set so deep?? The top plate of the valve body is about 50 inches below grade, does that sound right?

    my big problem is trying to figure out what to do about the sewer water standing in the pit... when i pull it out with a wet dry vac, more comes up.

    I am going to have a hell of a time replacing those parts underwater.


  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Default Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Tribuzio View Post
    What i cant figure out is, why is it set so deep?? The top plate of the valve body is about 50 inches below grade, does that sound right?
    That's probably the depth of your sewer line. $hit runs downhill and the line that is in must maintain its slope, with the valve located wherever the line is located.

    my big problem is trying to figure out what to do about the sewer water standing in the pit... when i pull it out with a wet dry vac, more comes up.

    I am going to have a hell of a time replacing those parts underwater.
    Turn your wet / dry vac into a pump. Most can be set to suction water out, and instead of dumping the water to the tank, install the outlet hose and just discharge the water someplace out of the way.

    Keep it running until the excess water drains out, then keep it running to suck up any more which comes out.

    Now you should be able to work on it 'dry' (not high and dry, but at least dry).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    Since your sewer is a gravity system, if you have sewage backing up in your pit then you have a blockage or grade problem on the outlet side of the valve you are working on. This is the reason the valve was installed and once you broke the seal you are getting your neighbors sewage, I'd call the city to check their line and get your line from the house to the city sewer jetted and if needed have them run a camera in the line to check the grade problems. You should be able to service the backflow valve with no backup if your sewer is draining properly.

    Last edited by James Duffin; 06-02-2007 at 07:32 PM. Reason: spelling

  11. #11
    Joshua Hardesty's Avatar
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    Default Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    I've seen a bunch of old pipes (clay and cast iron especially) that over time, when new roots grow in and around the pipes, they get pushed up and out of proper grade, causing pools like you're getting. If it was a blockage, it probably would have backed up a lot farther now. Fortunately for you, since the pipe is 50" below grade, you've still got plenty of "slope" from the lowest drain in your house to the street.

    There's a couple of things you could do to get the water out of there. See if you have a cleanout in the lawn somewhere that would give you access to the sewer pipe (between the backflow and the street). If there's not one, dig up the pipe and have a plumber put one on, it's not to big of a deal unless it's clay, in which case by this point you'd probably need it replaced anyways. Anyways, now that you've got a cleanout up at grade level, get yourself one of these: (see attached photo)

    Basically, you shove that down into the pipe and inflate it, so it blocks off the flow of poowater coming back into the house. Then you can vacuum out the water where you're working. They make extensions for the chain and the schrader valve to inflate it with if you're working down a long standpipe. They can be found at any plumbing supply store.



    If you're lucky, you could try to cram the test ball in one side of the backflow, but I imagine it would probably obstruct your work.

    Or you could get some long, rubber gloves and go at it by feel. ew.

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  12. #12
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    You might be able to get the water collected in the pit to clear up if you run enough clean water down the drain. Sooner or later the clean water should wash the sewer water down the drain. At least you would be able to see what you are doing. If that doesn't work you could get the line jetted to clean it out.

    You could also put a small pump in the bottom of the backflow housing to keep the water pumped out while you replace the internal parts.


  13. #13
    Joe Tribuzio's Avatar
    Joe Tribuzio Guest

    Default Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    where can i get a 55 gallon drum of draino??

    Going to follow all the good advice I have received from you all, and if all else fails I will call city and ask to have them check and jett the line from house to street, and if needed look at it with a camera to see if it a grading problem as it has been suggested. They shouldn't charge me for that should they?

    Josh, I don't have a clean out in front yard , kinda trying to avoid having to dig if at all possible.
    James,i will first try running clean water to see if it helps.

    Jerry, the wet dry vac into a pump is a good idea, thats what will probably work best as long as its strong enough to pump it back up the basement walkout stairs into yard. THEN i can replace the parts without drowning my ratchet wrench.

    oh, I didnt have gloves on last time...had KFC for dinner eeewwwww. j/k


  14. #14
    Joe Tribuzio's Avatar
    Joe Tribuzio Guest

    Default Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    update:

    water drained away, work area was dry enough to work on.
    there was no cork gasket present at all.

    Could not remove valve cover plate , stem and gate , it is supposed to lift right out, but after so long a period of NO MAINTENANCE being preformed, I have to believe that it is fused open from all the corrosion.

    I will also need to drill and tap the bolt holes so i can at least bolt it down shut. Not looking forward to it.

    This is why people should make sure proper maintenance schedules are followed. Had I been around , I would have, but i'm thinking that the last time the thing was maintained was about 30 years before i was born...

    thank you all for your help and input.


  15. #15
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    Another question out of curiosity.. you say there is a vault embedded in concrete. Is this the actual valve body embedded in the concrete or is the valve installed in the vault?


  16. #16
    Joe Tribuzio's Avatar
    Joe Tribuzio Guest

    Default Re: JAY R. SMITH BACKWATER VALVE

    Yep the valve body is in concrete unfortunately.


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