Sewer Backups

Did you know that water damage is the leading cause of home insurance claims in Canada? One way that can cause water damage is sewer backup, which is when unwanted water is getting back into your home. This can occur from heavy rainfall entering sewer faster than it can handle, damaged or aging sewer lines, or most commonly, clogged drains. Drains can be easy to ignore with day-to-day use…. until you can’t anymore! Then you’ll want to know what to do, and how to prevent it from happening again.

Identifying signs of sewer backups

  • Unpleasant, foul smell coming from your drains
  • The toilet doesn’t flush like it normally should, or the water starts to bubble when you try to flush
  • When plunging the toilet doesn’t help anymore
  • Wetness on the floors that cannot be attributed to anything else

What to do when you think you may have a sewer backup

First, take a look at the water backup and see if the water levels are receding at all. If so, then that may most likely indicate whatever that had initially caused the backup has cleared. However, it is still a good idea to call a professional to snake and scope the drain to confirm whether the blockage has been completely eliminated, or if there is something that is more serious such as tree root penetration or narrowing of the pipes due to scaling.

If water levels are NOT receding, then it is recommended to stop using and shut off the water supply. If it is a physical blockage, you may try to use a plunger to rid the clog, or a tool that can remove hair from the pipes. If nothing works, call a plumber. They will be able to resolve the issue, and identify whether there were any more significantly serious problems at hand at all.

How to prevent sewer backups

  • It’s always best to be prepared since sewage problems can easily go unlooked until it’s too late. By following these preventative tips, you can save yourself and your home a lot of money from costly sewage repairs
  • Remember that toilets are not a trash can. Do not flush anything other than toilet paper and human waste. Even products, such as wet wipes, that are labelled as flushable are still not recommended to be flushed down the drain as it still has potential to cause problems in the drainage system
  • Consult with a tree professional regarding cutting any large tree roots growing near your sewer line
  • Food items like grease, cooking oil/fats, coffee grinds, food waste should be disposed properly in the garbage, and not the sink
  • Use hair traps over drains to catch any loose hairs
  • Set up regular annual inspections to scope, drain, and clean your existing drains