The Signs Your Home is Facing Sewer Backup in Calgary, Alberta

A hose being inserted into a sewer cleanout to remove the dirty waste water that has filled the cleanout because of a sewer backup.
Calgary property owners rely heavily on a healthy plumbing system that supplies them with clean water and removes wastewater from their homes to keep them safe from diseases and infections. It’s interesting to think about all our home’s drainage systems because not many come to mind at first, except for the secondary drains that are connected to our plumbing fixtures like toilets, sinks, and tubs. But those common fixtures and drains are all connected to your main sewer line, the primary drainage pipe that moves all of your home’s wastewater to Calgary’s treatment plants (or into your septic tank). When it comes to that critical pipe, the last thing anybody wants to deal with is a Calgary sewer backup.

Any problems that involve backups aren’t always easy to detect without a professional’s diagnosis. This is where your Calgary plumber comes in with specialist tools and expertise to effectively detect a sewer backup. Calgary AB homes are in safe hands with our help!

At Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Calgary, we aim to ensure your plumbing system is in working order so that you are in a safe environment, free from toxic gas and chemicals. Our uniformed experts are licensed and insured, bringing many years of experience in fixing minor to major plumbing issues. You can trust us to arrive on time, offering excellent workmanship and customer care.

What Is The Sewer Line?

Other technical terms for this important pipe include the main drain or main line. It is usually four inches in diameter and connects with all your secondary drain lines to collect the liquid waste coming from your plumbing fixtures (i.e., toilet, sink, and tub). Calgary, AB property owners are responsible for covering the costs of water, wastewater treatment, and drainage completed by wastewater treatment plants. Your main line connects to the city sewer, enabling Calgary’s municipal services to do that dirty work for you. You may also have a septic tank that gives you the independence to manage your water and wastewater on your own without relying on Calgary’s public sewer services, in which case, your main line connects your secondary drainage lines to your septic tank.

Locating your sewer line might be tricky unless you can find the cleanout, which is the pipe that gives you direct access to it. It’s typically located in basements, garages, crawl spaces, or in your front yard. Keep an eye out for a pipe with a cap on it. If you’re unsure where it is, your plumber will be happy to help you locate it. The cleanout is the gateway to mainline inspection and probably the most important pipe for inspecting a Calgary sewer backup.

What Are The Signs of a Calgary Sewer Backup?

We all dread warning signs because we can’t help but think about the worst-case scenarios involving contamination or costly repairs. But before you despair, you can get help from an experienced plumber who can mitigate damage and reduce the impact of blockage. Look for these early signs that indicate you need service from a professional plumber.

Clogged Drain or Plumbing Fixture

Every homeowner has experienced clogged drains in one way or another, from slow drains to gurgling sinks to sewer gas smells. Not to mention clogged toilets, p-traps, and shower drains. One way to ensure that clogs are merely drain line issues is to check all your fixtures for symptoms of blockage. If it’s just the kitchen sink, you’re likely safe, but if backups occur throughout the house, it’s a sewer backup. Calgary, AB homeowners can rely on Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Calgary for emergency services to deal with that problem.

Overflowing Basement Floor Drain

This is one of the unpleasant signs of a main drain clog in Calgary. This happens when liquid waste has nowhere to go and forces itself into your secondary lines. It’s also possible for this to happen when sewage floods back into your system and isn’t stopped by a backwater valve. Since sewer gas contains harmful bacteria and other chemicals, it poses a health hazard, and you should call a licensed plumber right away.

Leaking Cleanout

If your cleanout (whether in the basement or outside your home) is leaking, you likely have a sewer backup. Calgary, AB homeowners with a leaking cleanout can unscrew the cap to release some pressure, but it’s still safest to leave further repairs and diagnosis to your certified plumber.

Wet Patches on the Lawn

You might see wet patches or standing water on your lawn even though it didn’t rain. Pools or puddles of fetid water can be a strong indicator of a Calgary sewer backup, and they show where your main drain is located.

Causes of a Calgary Sewer Backup

While signs and causes often go together, it’s better to separate the two since causes aren’t always visible and sometimes even go undetected until a disaster happens. That’s why paying attention to changes in your plumbing system is so important. It will help you identify the root cause faster.

Pipe Damage

The number of possibilities for pipe damage is high, from a leak to a burst pipe to a collapse. It’s crucial to pay attention to your secondary drain lines because recurring sink or toilet backups often indicate an underlying problem that you need to investigate. Perhaps your plumbing system is old and corroded and suffered a collapse, or it has damaged joints and seals that need repair. Unnoticed damage could compromise your family’s safety and your home’s structural health.

Foundation Issues

There are many reasons that your foundation might shift or crack. If you notice foundational cracks where water is seeping into the basement and flowing down your basement walls, you will need to address this issue immediately. If the sewer pipe that runs under the slab develops a leak or crack, it won’t just lead to a sewer backup but damage to your home’s entire structure.

Tree Root Intrusion:

Older homes are more susceptible to this problem because they often have an old plumbing system made of non-porous material, which makes it easy for tree roots to break into the system to access water. If you own an older home that’s surrounded by trees and are worried about tree roots affecting your pipes, we are happy to provide you with a plumbing diagnosis and inspection, offering you preventative measures that will give you a long-term solution.

Which Type of Main Lines Are Susceptible to a Calgary Sewer Backup?

Until the mid-1970s, Calgary sewer pipes were generally made of clay tile, cast iron, cement asbestos pipe, and tar paper (Orangeburg). Today, even the newest and most durable of those materials are reaching the end of their average lifespans. This is leading to more home sewer line failures. That said, newer neighborhoods aren’t exempt from a sewage backup either, as sudden damage or serious blockage could still cause a backup in newer lines.

Repairing cast iron is still common and minor issues like loose fittings or worn-out joints are relatively easy to fix. However, they are prone to leaks and backups, requiring more monitoring and maintenance than modern pipes. Many experienced plumbers have documented significant problems with cast iron pipe repair. In most cases, it’s best to replace those lines using something like the trenchless sewer repair method, which involves digging access holes to replace the old pipe with a new plastic pipe that will stand the test of time. Trenchless technology is only available if the sewer line is still intact. In the event of a collapse, this technology will not be applicable, and you will need a full replacement.

Calgary sewer backups are messy and potentially serious health hazards. Your plumbers care about ensuring that you have safe plumbing systems that provide longevity and stability, ruling out any unpredictable surprises that will result in expensive future spending. You can only repair an existing, failing pipe for so long; it will still continue to deteriorate, leading to leaks and more sewer backups.

Cast Iron Pipe Replacement Benefits

We understand that replacement is a huge investment, but we want to encourage you to think about the long-term benefits when getting brand-new pipes:

  • Increased longevity of sewer line and drain lines
  • Affordable trenchless pipe replacement techniques
  • Minimum risk of sewer backups
  • Cleaner water
  • Strong, durable, and soundproof plumbing

Calgary Sewer Backup Prevention

Plumbing repairs and maintenance are our specialty, but did you know that we can also provide you with preventative solutions to keep you safe from sewer backups? Calgary, AB homeowners can rest assured and steer clear from unpleasant signs and causes of damage with thorough inspections and preventative solutions from their licensed plumber.

Install a Backwater Valve

A backwater valve—also known as a backwater prevention valve or sewer backup valve—is a small plumbing solution that helps prevent basement flooding and sewer backups caused by clogs in the city’s main sewer. Calgary, AB property owners can install it in their basement, where it will be attached to the sewer line. The backwater prevention device has a backflow mechanism that adheres to the law of gravity. It stops your sewer from overflowing and flooding your property from the basement up. While the odds of having a backup in your basement caused by a clog in the main are low, if it happens it is usually catastrophic. So we strongly recommend having a Backwater valve installed to protect your home.

Drain Cleaning

Our preventative solutions include drain cleaning services which are designed to give you extra protection and help your plumbing system stay on track. While your main line and secondary drain lines are responsible for removing liquid waste from your home, debris and other dirt still create blockages over time that affect your system’s overall functionality. Recurring toilet backups, gurgling sinks, and sewer smells are merely telltale signs of blockage that could lead to serious problems in the future. Before we perform drain cleaning, we usually do a plumbing diagnosis and inspection to ensure that your pipes are in good health and can handle the pressure of our powerful HydroScrub® Jetting system. Our plumbing video camera inspection is a reliable tool we use to locate clogs and drain issues, as well as determine the main line material. Maintenance services like drain cleaning are necessary prevention methods to keep plumbing systems healthy.

Keep Your Drains Spotless

As long as you don’t flush garbage down the toilet, you will be one step closer to maintaining a healthy plumbing system. This includes paper towels, tissues, dental floss, Q-tips, feminine products, and anything else that’s not human waste. Cleaning your sink stopper frequently and brushing the drain opening also helps reduce deposit buildup that would otherwise trigger slow draining. Keeping up with household remedies, such as using salt water or baking soda, white vinegar, and hot water can go a long way. These are the small things that you can do to prevent Calgary sewer backups.

Need Help With a Calgary Sewer Backup?

Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Calgary is here to help. Whether you have an overflowing toilet, clogged sink, or backed-up floor drain, you can count on our team of local experts for reliable, guaranteed workmanship and excellent customer service. Our plumbing professionals have the tools and equipment needed to get to the bottom of your home's problems quickly. We can give you an accurate assessment of the situation and help you identify the safest and most effective solutions. We proudly serve many communities across Calgary, from Eagle Ridge to Acadia and beyond.

Give us a call to schedule an appointment or chat with our friendly customer service reps about any plumbing concerns you may have.