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Understanding Problems With Sewer Backup

Understanding The Problems With Sewer Backup Ajax Homeowners Face

Sewer backups always pop up at the worst times and are, without doubt, one of the worst problems that a homeowner can face, plumbing wise. There are many problems that, unfortunately, result from a sewage backup.

For some homeowners in Ajax, the major sewer backups in 2000, 2005, and 2008 are still fresh in their minds. Don't become a victim of the next backup!

Dealing with Sewer Backup Ajax, Ontario? Here's everything you need to know about sewage problems in the Durham area and the options available to homeowners.

What Is a Sewage Backup?

Sewage is the wastewater that comes from inside homes and businesses from the toilets, showers, dish and clothes washers, and sinks. A sewage backup occurs when this water encounters a blockage or some other plumbing problems. The most common obstructions come from improper flushing of items, such as:

  • Grease
  • Wipes
  • Food
  • Paper Towels
  • Facial Tissues and Wipes
  • Napkins
  • Diapers

Essentially, you should not treat your drains like a trash can. If it isn't liquid, human waste, water, soap/shampoo, or toilet paper, it shouldn't be flushed.

Use your garbage disposals with utmost care. Don't dispose of large amounts of food or anything else through your garbage disposal. Even if it clears your disposal, there is a good chance it will clog up later in the sewer line.

Sewage backups also occur after heavy rain or a large amount of melting snow, which overloads the city's main drains. Tree roots and corrosion of drain lines can also contribute to clogs or obstructions, which lead to sewage backups.

The sewage water will back up into your home since it has nowhere else to go. The sewage backups through your sinks, toilets, showers, and bathtubs- essentially, anything with a drain is vulnerable.

Understanding the Problems with Sewer Backup Ajax

Have you encountered a sewer backup, Ajax? Many problems ultimately result from these backups! While most people are concerned about structural and water damage, along with the putrid smell, the main problem associated with a sewer backup is the impact on the health and safety of humans and pets!

Health Problems from Sewer Backup

Knowing where sewage water starts, it isn't a surprise that having a sewage backup can come with many health concerns. Sewage contaminated water may contain a wide variety of contaminants that spread illnesses and diseases. Not only is it a threat to you and your family, but your pets can be at risk as well!

Some of the most common bacteria found in sewage and their symptoms are:

  • E. Coli – abdominal cramps and diarrhea
  • Acanthamoeba – Infections of the ear, nose, eye, and throat
  • Salmonella – abdominal cramps and diarrhea
  • Hepatitis – infections of the liver, liver failure
  • Leptospirosis – muscle aches and vomiting

On top of the bacteria, sewage is full of other dangerous and toxic substances, such as pesticides, fungi, and medications. Yes, some people flush unused and expired prescriptions, which cause harm during a backup.

No matter what, do not touch or breathe in water contaminated with sewage. If you have to be in the area, wear rubber-soled shoes and a breathing mask. Upon leaving the area, remove all clothing and shoes that came into contact with the sewage.

Property Damage from Sewer Backup

Sewer backups commonly result in property damage. At the very least, a plumber needs to evaluate your plumbing system to diagnose the cause of the backup. The plumber will also help to prevent future backups.

If the water remains in your home for an extended period of time, additional damage occurs. Damage to the floors, walls, personal belongings, wiring, and HVAC system all can follow a sewer backup.

Also, mould and bacteria can grow if all of the water is not removed. If this happens, all impacted walls and other items have to be removed and replaced.

Ultimately, whatever comes into contact with the sewage has to be tossed, or thoroughly cleaned. For soft/porous items, they are a total loss. It doesn't matter if it is your clothes, plush toys, mattresses, or furniture- if it contacts the backup water, it is contaminated and needs to be thrown out.

For hard items or those that can be easily cleaned, they will need to be thoroughly disinfected with bleach and dried.

Fire Hazards from Sewer Backup

The most immediate problem resulting from a sewer backup is the risk of fire. You should immediately check the water level.

If it has reached any electrical components (outlets or extension cords), gas-burning equipment, or anything similar- get out! The risk of fire and electrical shock is too high and needs to be handled by a professional.

However, if the water level remains below your electrical components, you need to turn off the power at the breaker box quickly.

Just ensure that you follow all safety rules when turning off the power supply, including standing on a dry surface and not touching any metal objects. Of course, if you aren't comfortable with this, a professional can help!

What to Do During a Sewer Backup

While sewer backups are scary and disruptive, there are several steps to take to help get your life back to normal:

  1. Close as many drains as you can. Do this carefully, so you don't expose yourself to the sewage.

  2. Don't run water in your home or flush toilets until the obstruction/clog is cleared.

  3. Check with your neighbours. This will help you pinpoint the source of the backup. If they have a backup, chances are is that the problem lies in the municipal system.

  4. Call plumbing and restoration professionals. They can help diagnose the issue and start repairs.

  5. Report the sewer backup to your local Region of Durham Works Department. The Department can offer suggestions for further action and can start work on the main system.

  6. Call your homeowner's insurance company to start the claims process. Be sure to keep all quotes and receipts related to repair, cleaning, and anything associated with remediation to help with your claim.

Options Available to Homeowners in Ajax

As a homeowner or renter, your main priority following a sewer backup needs to be your health, safety, and the speedy restoration of your property.

Professional Services

When you encounter a sewer backup, the best thing to do is to call qualified plumber and property restoration/remediation experts if a private sewage system serves your property.

With specialized knowledge and the training on how to handle hazardous materials, they are best equipped to handle a sewer backup. If you rent, contact your landlord immediately.

A licensed plumber or plumbing technician can perform a camera inspection to pinpoint the exact point of the blockage and the cause of the backup. This inspection allows for more timely repairs and replacement if needed.

Restoration officials should, at the very least, do the following for your property, if applicable:

  • Removal of sewer backup liquids and waste
  • Mop floors and wipe down walls with disinfectant
  • Flush and disinfect plumbing fixtures
  • Steam clean or remove carpets, drapes, etc.
  • Repair/remove walls
  • Cleaning and repair or replacement of ductwork

If the backup originates in a municipal sewer system, you need to contact your local Region of Durham Works Department depot. The Region of Durham Works Department actually offers a free cleaning service.

This free service is available for single-family, semi-detached, and townhouses that have spate direct connected to the sanitary sewer. Contact the Works Department depot for more information.

Following a sewer backup Ajax event, you need to contact the municipality. When an issue in the municipal system causes the backup, financial compensation may be available to impacted homeowners.

Insurance for Sewer Backup

Another option available to homeowners is insurance coverage specific to a sewer backup, floods, or plumbing issues. While some insurance coverage automatically covers water damages in a standard home policy, many require particular riders or endorsements.

Be sure to speak to your insurance agent and company if you have any questions about your specific policy.

When it comes to a sewer backup, it is usually not automatically covered in most standard home policies. This specific coverage needs to be added to the standard policy. Given the increasing age of many sewer systems, it doesn't hurt to double-check that you are covered.

Sewer backup insurance offers coverage to help make needed repairs to the home while also helping to replace destroyed belongings. To help ensure proper coverage, take a full inventory of items in your basement.

The inventory should include before photos, serial numbers, and receipts of the original purchase.

Preventing Sewer Backups

However, the best option available to homeowners in Ajax and the Durham area is to avoid a sewer backup in the first place! First, you should always dispose of foods, paper products (including flushable wipes), feminine hygiene products, and diapers in the appropriate receptacles.

Second, do not pour any oil, grease, or fats down the toilet or a household drain. With time, these harden and lead to a clog of the drain and pipes.

There are many more additional preventive measures you can take:

  • Inspect and waterproof your home's foundation
  • Seal any cracks in the foundation and walls
  • Install and maintain a sump pump in your basement

Finally, you should ensure that a backwater valve is installed on your property. A licensed plumber can install one, helping to reduce any risk of a sewage backup entering your home. Contact your municipality to ensure that your backwater valve is approved.

Backwater Valves

A backwater valve, sometimes called a backflow preventer, can be a tremendous ally in the fight against sewer backup, Ajax! Backwater valves help prevent sewage backup when the main sewer lines are overloaded.

The valve works by automatically closing when it senses the backup from the main sewer.

Just know that not all backwater valves are created equal. A plumbing professional can help you find the correct valve for your needs. Professionals can also ensure that you are installing a valve that is approved by your municipal government.

In fact, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, some homeowners are required to install a backwater valve to be insured. For those that have fell victim to a sewer backup, insurers may require the installation of a valve to maintain their coverage.

The good news is that there are municipalities across Canada that offer rebates to encourage the installation of backwater valves.

Ajax Backflow Prevention By-Law

In Ajax, the Backflow Prevention by-law 24-2018 was passed by the Durham Regional Council on June 13, 2018.

This by-law requires that "backflow preventer for premise isolation is installed, tested, and maintained annually on all water services that could pose a hazard to the municipal drinking water system."

This by-law does not impact individual homeowners but does apply to industrial, commercial, and multi-residential properties.

Sump Pumps

Another preventative method many homeowners choose is a sump pump. Sump pumps connect to a basement drain system. When water enters the basement, the sump pump detects the water and pumps it back outside.

Sump pumps run on electricity, so some will install a battery backup sump pump as a supplement

Sewer Backup Ajax and Durham Region

Yes, falling victim to a sewer backup is a huge inconvenience that poses severe risks to health and property. By being wise in keeping items out of the drains, doing routine maintenance, and getting the appropriate professionals involved, you can limit the time you have to deal with this.

In fact, by doing this, you will be limiting your risk! Speaking of limiting risk, don't forget to check your insurance coverages, so you aren't fully financially liable for a sewer backup Ajax!

If you need help with your sewage backup or any other plumbing issue, contact us today for more information.