Dealing With a Sewer Backup in Markham? Here’s What to Do:

A large sewer cleanout hole with a sewage backup in the hole at a level just below the sewage pipe inside it.
The unimaginable has happened in your home—a sewer backup. Markham homeowners may not have much of a choice in the matter, but something must be done. If you've never had to handle a problem like this, you're probably wondering what the next steps are.

The best people to ask are professional plumbers. If you’re reading this, you’re already off to a good start! Use this sewer backup Markham action plan to get the best possible resolution. Once you’ve safely recovered, be sure to take the right steps toward prevention. Otherwise, you might be at risk for another sewer backup in the future.

Your local Markham plumber at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Newmarket put this guide together for every important detail and course of action that local homeowners should follow in this situation. We will cover what to do immediately after a Markham sewer backup, signs that trouble is coming down the pipe and common causes.

Markham Sewer Backup Action Plan:

  1. Open Your Windows

As you might expect, the smell of sewage is unpleasant. You should ventilate your home as quickly as you can after a sewage backup has occurred. Open your windows as wide as possible before exiting your home.

  1. Remove Valuable Items That Have Not Yet Been Contaminated

In the event of basement flooding, items in your home may have been contaminated by raw sewage. You should leave these items as they are. However, if there are valuable items that could be damaged, you should remove them—if it’s still safe to do so. While a good many of these things will be covered by your Markham sewer backup insurance coverage, some of them might be difficult to replace. This is particularly true of family heirlooms and other precious keepsakes.

  1. Evacuate Your Home

Get everyone in your household outside. This includes yourself and your pets. Sewage is toxic and unsafe for anyone to be around. There's also a risk of electrical shock as water could come into contact with various electrical appliances. (Unless you have ground fault circuit interrupters.)

  1. Take Pictures

Taking pictures will help when dealing with your insurance company when you need evidence to support your Markham sewer backup action plan. They'll often want confirmation of the damage and information about its extent. Make sure to get photos of everything that was harmed. Important note: You shouldn't put yourself in a dangerous situation just for these photos.

  1. Shut Off Utilities

Once you're outside, start calling up your utility companies and asking them to shut off your utility lines. This includes your electrical line, your gas line, and your water. Leaving these lines on could exacerbate problems and create a dangerous environment if there is wastewater flooding into your home.

  1. Call Your Insurance Company

We recommend calling your insurance company as soon as possible in your sewer backup Markham response plan. The earlier you can get your them involved, the more engaged they will be—and the more likely they will be to honor your claim.

  1. Start the Cleanup

Now, you can start the cleanup. You can do this on your own, but it requires a good deal of equipment. Depending on the extent of your issue, this equipment may include gloves, goggles, boots, a face mask, a water pump, and a wet-dry vacuum.

If wastewater has reached floors, you'll first need to pump out standing water and then use a wet-dry vacuum to suck up miscellaneous residue. Many of the items in your home will need to be thrown away, so you'll likely want to schedule some dumpsters to be on-site as well.

If you don't have the time, energy, or wherewithal to clean your home on your own, you should call up a home restoration company. They'll facilitate all cleaning duties for you. There are all sorts of things they'll do, including wall cleaning and area inspection for additional damage or contamination.

  1. Find and Repair the Source of the Sewer Backup

Markham homeowners know that once standing wastewater has been removed, they’ll need a qualified plumber to investigate the source of the sewer backup. Markham Plumbers at Mr. Rooter will recommend a course of action for fixing it.

You shouldn't attempt to do this on your own. These are situations for service from a seasoned plumber. Your local Markham plumber has all the tools and resources needed to identify your problem as well as facilitate repairs safely and efficiently.

  1. Have Your Utility Systems Inspected

You'll also want to have your utility systems checked out after a sewer backup. Markham homes will most likely be unsafe due to dysfunctional and dangerous systems that have suffered water damage. Bring in a licensed plumber and electrician to carry out these inspections. They'll determine which exact problems have occurred and complete any necessary repairs to restore your safety.

  1. Begin Restoration

Flooding during a sewer backup causes a great deal of damage. Everything from flooring to drywall to kitchen appliances could be ruined. You'll likely need to have these items cleaned, repaired, or replaced. Once everything is restored and clean—including the sewer line or septic tank—call up a home remodeling company and arrange a restoration project if necessary.

Signs of an Impending Sewer Backup in Markham

It can be a slow, insidious incident or happen fast during heavy rainstorms, but you can’t always predict a sewer backup. Markham property owners could leave the house for an hour to come back and find that it's covered in sewage. It happens that quickly. As such, you need to keep your eyes open for warning signs in and around your home.

  • Bad Odours: A common sign of impending Markham sewer backups is a bad odor. If your toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and other water-based appliances have a sewage smell, you can bet your bottom dollar that it is a serious sewer backup. Markham Plumbers at Mr. Rooter offer emergency services. The sooner you call for professional repairs and treatment, the more materials in your home you’ll be able to save.
  • Bubbling Drains: If you notice your drains bubbling, it's likely because there's restricted wastewater flow. Your sewer line could be backed-up and forcing water, air, or sewer gas back up through your drains. This could very well result in a full-on sewer backup. Markham homeowners should bring in a professional plumber for a quick solution.
  • Your Drains Are Operating Slowly: Does it take minutes for the water to drain out of your sinks, bathtubs, and other water-based appliances? If so, and if this is occurring in more than one appliance at a time, there's a good chance that a Markham sewer backup is causing problems.
  • Running Faucets Cause Small Backups in Other Drains: If your drains have water coming back up through them, you may have a sewer backup. Markham plumbers will take this as a sign of a clogged main drain where wastewater can’t leave. Blockage is pushing waste back up into other household drains. This will result in a full-on backup before long, one that will require extensive damage that will require serious cleaning and restoration. You should not handle clogged main drains yourself. Calling a licensed plumber will give you peace of mind that every detail is taken care of.
  • Your Toilet Is Sluggish: Has your once-monstrous toilet turned wimpy? Do you have to try several times just to get it to flush in the first place? It might be because of sewage buildup in the pipes. Regardless of what the problem could be, this demands a professional inspection before we can discuss any plumbing solutions.

What Causes Sewage to Back Up?


Clogs are common causes of sewer backups. Markham homeowners can’t always control what other people in their household flush down the toilet or wash down the kitchen sink drains. Whether someone is flushing down dental floss, a paper towel, or other harmful substances, it will all contribute to clogs. Over time they all grow and harden on the pipe walls, completely restricting sewage flow.

Other harmful substances that cause clogs include grease, oil, fats, feminine products, and eggshells, to name just a few more. Remember, however, that given enough time, even acceptable waste can cause a pipe to clog. For this reason, it's wise to get a routine drain cleaning service to minimize the risks of a sewer backup. Markham Plumbers are here to help you with regular maintenance services.

Tree Roots

Another factor to look out for is the state of public and private trees. If tree roots grow into your sewer line, they’ll cause damage and restrict flow, causing your sewer lateral to clog more easily and back up into your home. Keep an eye out for trees near your sewer line as well as large ones that have been around for a while as they’ll likely have larger roots. Either one of these has a chance of growing into your line and causing problems.

Failure to Clean Your Septic Tank

If you use a septic tank instead of a public Markham sewer line, you are responsible for having it cleaned and pumped out periodically. If you don't do this, it will fill up and eventually spill out, sometimes resulting in an internal sewer backup. Markham plumbers recommend paying attention to warning signs that include drain issues, water backup, or foul smells.

Generally speaking, you should have your septic tank pumped every two to three years. In addition, you should be replacing your septic tank every 25 years. For all these services and emergencies, local Markham plumbers do provide septic system repairs.

Having Flood Drains Flow into Your Sewage Line

Another factor that might cause a Markham sewer backup is having flood drains flow into your sewage line. This shouldn't be happening at all, but it could be if your flood drains were installed incorrectly. If you have a sump pump or a French drain leading into your sewer pipes, you need to disconnect it. Flood drains can send too much water into sewer lines too quickly, which creates backups over time.


Flooding also creates many Markham sewer backups, particularly during severe storms. Water from municipal flood water systems or the city storm sewer can overflow into municipal sewage systems. If that happens, and you don’t have a backwater valve, you’ll fall victim to sewer backup in your home. Although this is rare, it is something to be cognizant of. You can help combat it by proactively cleaning out your sewer line and installing protective devices.

How To Prevent Sewer Backups In The Future

Luckily, there are a couple of protective plumbing devices that your Markham plumber can install for you. As your local plumbing experts who strive to help local homeowners protect themselves and their homes, we provide the following installation, maintenance, and repair services:

  • Backwater Valve Installation: Also known as a sewer backup valve, this is a little device that your local plumber installs on the opening of your sewer lateral. It has a flap mechanism that can sense an upcoming backup. When it does, it will automatically close and prevent any sewage from overflowing into your home.
  • Sump Pump Installation: If you live in a flood-prone area in Markham, you’ll likely need a sump pump installation. It detects increased moisture and excess water in your home and discharges it via a discharge pipe. It also connects with your home’s perimeter drain (weeping tile) and helps pump away excess stormwater when needed.
  • Waterproofing: Markham plumbers are experts in waterproofing basements, where you’ll always experience a higher moisture level than in other parts of your home. We’ll install additional drainage to back your sewer system, secure your walls and windows and seal your walls, concrete, and masonry with waterproof products.

Are You Dealing with a Sewer Backup in Markham?

A sewer backup is something that you never want, but if it's already happened you should act fast. Follow the steps above and soon enough your home will be in good shape once again.

If you are experiencing a sewer backup in Markham, and if you need sewer services, our friendly team at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Newmarket is ready to help. We can clean and drain your sewer line, ensuring that it's operating smoothly.

Call us today or request an appointment online to get help from a local plumber! We proudly serve many nearby areas, such as Thornhill and Richmond Hill, with service for everything from sewer backups to routine drain repair.