Guide to the Preventative Plumbing Program 

Overview

On January 10, 2012, Council for the City of Kingston approved the establishment of a financial assistance program to be administered by Utilities Kingston.

The primary intent of this program is to provide financial assistance to homeowners who are considering undertaking work on their own home to reduce future risk of sewage backup. Sewage backups can occur for a number of reasons, yet the most common reason is overloading of the sanitary sewer system during periods of rapid snow melt or heavy rainfall.

The secondary intent of this program is to reduce the amount of extraneous flow originating from private homes. Extraneous flow is otherwise clean groundwater or stormwater that enters the sanitary sewer systems and results in the system being overwhelmed during periods of rapid snow melt or heavy rainfall.

The program was officially launched in April 2012. The information contained below describes how the program works, what sort of rebates it offers and the eligibility criteria. For more information, contact customer service, Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM,  at 613-546-0000. You can also email preventativeplumbing@utilitieskingston.com

Program details

What does the program cover?

The program covers a handful of very specific works that you may wish to undertake on your home to reduce the likelihood of a sewage backup. In general, it covers a fixed percentage of the costs to a fixed maximum, for eligible works. The following lists the eligible work and financial assistance levels.

Eligible works and costs

  1. The installation of backwater sewer valve on the sanitary sewer lateral including eligible inspections, materials, labour, permit (if required), and taxes.
  2. The installation of a new sump pit and single sump pump with battery-power backup including eligible inspections, materials, labour, permit (if required), and taxes.
  3. The severance or capping of the weeping tile (foundation drain) connection to the sanitary sewer, including eligible materials, labour, permit (if required), and taxes.
  4. Rerouting of an existing sump pump discharge (disconnection from the sanitary sewer), including eligible materials, labour, permit (if required), and taxes

Financial assistance levels

Item % of Eligible costs (1) Maximum assistance (2)
1. Backwater sewer valve 75 $1,200
2. New sump pit and pump 75 $1,400
3. Capping of foundation drain connection 50 $1,000
4. Disconnection of existing sump pump 50 $300
Maximum financial assistance available per home $3,000

Notes

(1) Each element of the program has prescribed items that are considered eligible, i.e., ALL costs associated with the work may not be covered. In very general terms, costs that are ineligible are those generally associated with internal or external restoration (i.e., restoration of landscaping or floor and wall finishing). The percentage of eligible costs refers to the percentage of cost of the work that will be eligible for financial assistance.

(2) The maximum assistance is the maximum dollar value that will be eligible for financial assistance for the specific item and for the home in total.

What does the program not cover?

The program does not cover the following:

  • Protection against basement flooding from surface water, storm water or groundwater, including things like seepage through foundations or the floor, or excessive water coming up through the sump hole (existing sump pump not able to keep up). These are private groundwater drainage issues not stemming from the sanitary sewer system.
  • Upgrade or replacement of an existing sump pump. 
  • Damage compensation, assistance with any rehabilitation, restoration or repair costs due to flooding.
  • Restoration of disturbed landscaping, driveways, flower beds, trees, gardens, etc., on the exterior of the house.
  • Restoration of disturbed carpet, flooring, drywall, furnishings, framing, etc., on the interior of the house.
  • Downspout disconnection (this is a mandatory program prerequisite).

Eligibility

Eligibility is based on the following criteria:

  • The home must be located in the City of Kingston, within the area serviced by Utilities Kingston and the home must have an active water and sewer account in good standing with Utilities Kingston.
  • The home is a single family detached, semi-detached, row-house, duplex or triplex.
  • The applicant is the owner of the home.
  • Work must be completed by qualified contractors licensed by the City of Kingston where required
  • A plumber licensed by the City of Kingston must be hired to install a backwater valve.
  • A qualified contractor in the City of Kingston must be hired to install a sump pump system and for capping the foundation drain.
  • Contractor(s) must use materials or fittings that are approved by the Ontario Building Code.
  • Each owner shall acquire any required Permit(s) for the completion of eligible works.
  • At the completion of the program, to be eligible for financial assistance, the home’s downspouts and foundation drainage must be fully compliant with City Bylaw 2008-192, Clauses 3.8-3.11, and not be capable of discharging to the sanitary sewer.
  • Invoice(s) must be originals and show clear and detailed breakdown of all charges to indicate those items that qualify for financial assistance and those that do not, total amount paid and clearly marked PAID IN FULL by the Contractor(s).
  • Work must be completed within the calendar year for which the application was made.
  • Funding for eligible work is subject to available budget, first-come, and first-served.
  • Any single owner may only apply for improvements to two buildings maximum per calendar year.
  • Any single building is eligible for program enrolment once. For more details, review the Preventative Plumbing Program terms and conditions.

Program process

The process is as follows:

  1. Before applying, carefully review this guide and make sure you understand your responsibilities. Keep in mind that not all costs will be covered, and there may be significant investment still on the homeowner’s part to see the work completed. 

    This program is a financial assistance program, and Utilities Kingston takes no responsibility for the quality or appropriateness of the work, or any future flooding that may occur. Discuss the program with a reputable licensed plumber or contractor and see if the elements of this program suit your home.


  2. Submit the application form. Do your best to review your home’s eligibility, then complete the Preventative Plumbing Program application form and submit it online, by email, mail or drop off in person. At this stage, you don’t need to know exactly what elements of the program you should apply for, just that one or more of them may be applicable in your home.

  3. First appointment. The program manager will contact you to make an appointment and meet with you at your home. The program manager will do a simple visual assessment with you, inside and outside your home, to get a sense for what improvements might work and what might not work. Some photos will be taken of your property and basement.. The program manager will let you know what items you may be eligible for and the next steps. The program manager will give you the Preventative Plumbing Program Assessment Form and any instructions on how to use it.

    Keep in mind that although the Utilities Kingston program manager has technical knowledge of residential plumbing and building foundations, the final recommendations on what works are suitable for your home will need to come from any contractors you decide to work with.

    It is possible that a contractor visits your home, does some inspections and finds that no works are feasible, in which case you may incur some costs that are not refundable.

  4. Get cost estimates and consensus. It is recommended that, prior to proceeding with any work, you contact two or three reputable contractors who are qualified, insured and licensed in the City of Kingston. The contractors should review your options with you, and give you quotes for the work. Ideally, the contractors are all suggesting similar improvements. Specifically, if there is any discrepancy between what the program manager suggested and what your preferred contractor has suggested, it is best to review with the program manager prior to commencing just to avoid the risk of certain costs not being eligible for financial assistance. 

    Please note that the contractors may not know all the answers simply by visiting your home – they may very well need to do some investigative work to figure out your plumbing. Their prices and the level of comfort you have will help you pick who you want to do the work.

  5. Initiate the work. The contractor that you select will need to assist you in completing the Assessment Form, so be sure they know in advance you are participating in the Program and give them the chance to look over the forms. Your contractor may need to assist with collecting and supplying all the necessary documentation required by Utilities Kingston to qualify for the financial assistance.

    At this stage, Utilities Kingston can offer no guarantees that you will qualify for any amount of financial assistance, so, the responsibility is yours to ensure you meet the terms and conditions and supply the required deliverables as in the Assessment Form. 

    The checklist of deliverables is as follows:
    1. Completed Assessment Form, as provided by Utilities Kingston program manager.
    2. A digital copy of any Closed Circuit Television Inspection of the home plumbing and/or lateral clearly indicating any foundation drain connections (if completed by contractor).
    3. Copy of any permits acquired from the City of Kingston Building Department for Eligible Works.
    4. Original clearly-itemized invoices/receipts detailing the work completed.
    5. All required signatures on the Assessment and Application Forms.

  6. During the work. Some things to consider during the work:
    • Ensure that any required permits are acquired for all work including building, plumbing and electrical improvements. The Contractor may offer to do this on your behalf, or you are able to do it yourself. The permit(s) are considered eligible costs so long as they are required specifically for the eligible works. 
    • Where a permit is required from the City of Kingston Building Department for a backflow prevention device, a separate visit will be scheduled from a City of Kingston Building Official. Any electrical work (e.g. new receptacles for pumps, etc.) may require permits and inspection by the Electrical Safety Authority. 
    • Where the Contractor undertakes a video inspection of your sewer lateral to confirm existing conditions, make sure you get a digital copy of the video file to include in your submission to Utilities Kingston. The video must clearly identify the foundation drain connection to the sewer lateral, or confirm than no connection exists.
    • Double check to see that the sump pump is discharging to the lawn, and has no ability to be readily reconnected or redirected to the sanitary sewer.
    • Take plenty of photos to document the work being done.

    • Ensure in advance, prior to receiving any invoices, that the contractor adequately itemizes the invoice to each separate eligible and non-eligible cost.Have the contractor prove to you that they are installing everything properly and legally.
    • Ensure that the contractor provides you with any manufacturer’s manuals that discuss maintenance or troubleshooting for your new backflow valve and/or your new sump pump. If not, be sure the contractor is advising you on what are adequate maintenance activities to perform, shows you how to do it, and how often. Your new back water valve or sump pump system will soon be ineffective if they are not maintained properly.
    • If you have any downspouts that connect into the sanitary sewer, be sure they are disconnected and redirected elsewhere prior to completion of the work.
    • Make sure that the discharge locations of your sump pump and downspouts do not impact your neighbour’s property, or put their basements at increased risk of flooding. Your storm water should stay on your property.

  7. After the work is complete. Once the work is complete, review the deliverables listed in the Assessment Form checklist to make sure you have all the required items. Contact the program manager and a second follow-up visit will be scheduled with you.

    During the follow-up visit, the program manager will take photos of the finished installation, verify that the works were completed, and review your documentation. Be sure to photocopy your documents and send the originals to the program manager. If there is a deficiency with the installation, the program manager will explain how to correct the work and how you can work with your contractor to have the corrections made. You will be required to correct the deficiencies before proceeding any further with the Program. Work done incorrectly or work done without permits is not eligible for financial assistance. It is your responsibility to ensure that your contractor is doing the work properly and in accordance with this Program.

    Please note: The program manager or Utilities Kingston will not verify the quality of the work. Within your abilities, you, as the home owner, need to ensure your contractor is doing the job correctly and to your satisfaction. For further questions and concerns regarding the technical installation of your improvements, the City of Kingston Building Department may be consulted.

  8. Submit your deliverables. Once you have all items on your checklist ready, email, mail or drop off your final package to the program manager. 
    The final package should include:

    1. Completed Assessment Form, as provided by Utilities Kingston program manager.
    2. A digital copy of any Closed Circuit Television Inspection of the home plumbing and/or lateral clearly indicating any foundation drain connections (if completed by contractor).
    3. Copy of any permits acquired from the City of Kingston Building Department for Eligible Works.
    4. Original clearly-itemized invoices/receipts detailing the work completed.
    5. All required signatures on the Assessment and Application Forms.

    When the deliverables have all been received, the program manager has confirmed all eligibility criteria have been met, and all works have been completed in accordance with the Program and the Program’s Terms and Conditions, Utilities Kingston will issue a cheque, originating from the City of Kingston. Homeowners can expect to receive the cheque in the mail within about 90 days of receipt of the final package.

Where can I get more information?

For more information, contact customer service, Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM,  at 613-546-0000. You can also email preventativeplumbing@utilitieskingston.com

Terms and conditions

Read the terms and conditions.

  • Frequently asked questions

    • The Program has a limited amount of funding and by making a percentage contribution, Utilities Kingston will be able to assist more homeowners. This will also ensure that homeowners interested in accessing the Program have a financial commitment to the process.

    • The answer is no. The requirements of the Program must be met before you qualify for any financial assistance. The Preventative Plumbing Program is firstly a program to assist homeowners in protecting their property against sewage backups. Secondly, it helps the neighbourhood reduce sewage backups by eliminating storm-water and groundwater flows going into the sanitary sewer. Utilities Kingston is offering this program for both benefits, and only installing a backwater valve would not help reduce your neighbours’ risk of basement flooding. For this reason, to be eligible, you would need to have both the backwater valve installed, and the sump pump system installed to qualify for rebates. This would put your home in compliance with City of Kingston ByLaw 2008-192 Clauses 3.8-3.11.

    • Utilities Kingston manages and operates the sanitary sewer system for the City of Kingston. Because of this, Utilities Kingston is able to offer assistance to homeowners to help prevent sewage backups that originate from the sanitary sewer system. On the other hand, the ground and surface water around the home is the homeowner’s responsibility. It is also the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain their home, and adequately manage their drainage. The Program therefore does not assist with excessive runoff or groundwater as this is solely the responsibility of the homeowner. A homeowner ultimately must ensure that their foundation is maintained and that their sump pumps are adequately sized for the groundwater conditions on their property.

      If your property is subject to surface drainage from neighbouring properties or perpetually wet conditions, and you have constantly active sump pumps, you may wish to investigate this further with the City of Kingston Engineering Department who may or may not have some ideas for you, or solutions to assist you.

    • There are a number of reasons why you may still experience a sewage backup. These include things like improper installation of the backflow prevention device or sump pit and pump, improper maintenance of the backflow device or sump pump, insufficient education on use of these items, as well as potential for problems on the sewer lateral. To best reduce the risk of flooding, here are some tips:

      • The backflow prevention device must be installed according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Take the time to review them, your plumber should provide them to you, and have your plumber take the time to show you that they did the job right.
      • The position of the backflow device relative to any foundation drain connection to the sanitary sewer is important. Through this program, there should no longer be this connection, but have your plumber show you what they did to make sure the weeping tile is not draining in upstream of the backflow device.
      • You are responsible for maintaining and servicing the backflow device. Review the manufacturer’s recommendations with your plumber and perhaps keep some spare parts on hand (if available). Lack of maintenance will cause the device to malfunction and not work when you need it to.
      • Make sure to acquire a plumbing permit for installation of your backflow prevention device (program prerequisite)
      • Become educated on how the backflow prevention device works, and the basic do’s and don’ts when you have one. For example, if the valve is closed (due to surcharge of the municipal sewer system), excessive use of water in the home will mean it has nowhere else to go, but your basement. Your contractor should provide this information to you.
      • Sump pumps are another mechanical device that needs maintenance. Review the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance and servicing with the installer.
      • Consider providing a second sump pump for redundancy with one of the two on a backup form of power. Most sump pumps run off your home’s electricity and therefore power failures will render the sump pumps useless. Backup power may ensure that at least one of your sump pumps will work when needed.
      • Take care of your sewer lateral. Have it inspected from time to time and undertake repairs when needed, before it fails.

      Many of these things require knowledge about the right things to do, or the right things to ask. For starters, a list of questions to ask your Contractor will be provided to you by the Program Manager at their first visit to your home. This will give the Program applicant the knowledge to help ensure that the work gets done right and also that the work and documentation meet the eligibility criteria.

    • No, it will not. These efforts associated with the Program protect against surcharge of the municipal sewer system and ensure an overland flow path for foundation drainage. If your sewer lateral fails, your plumbing will back up until you notice there is a problem. Unfortunately, most homeowners only become aware of a sewer lateral failure when sewage begins spilling out of your lowest fixture, often a floor drain or basement level shower, toilet or sink. Maintaining your sewer lateral is important and you should consider having it inspected from time to time and completing any necessary repairs in a diligent and timely manner.

      The bonus of this program is that a video inspection of the sewer lateral is an eligible cost, and the video inspection may reveal problems with the sewer lateral that can be remedied before a backup occurs.