All Backed Up: 10 Common Sewer Backup Causes in Mississauga (and How to Handle Them)

A drain in the bottom of a tub coated with the residue of the wastewater that appeared during a sewer backup.
Only a few people think twice about where their drain lines direct their home’s wastewater. You may rely heavily on the city sewer to effectively transfer all that liquid waste to the treatment plant without realizing that you have a sewer lateral just outside your property. Sewer lines are a big topic among plumbing professionals and construction workers, but it’s important for every Mississauga homeowner to have a basic understanding of their plumbing system, especially in the event of a Mississauga sewer backup.

Mississauga, ON, homeowners dread plumbing disasters. A flood of sewage into your basement is dangerous to your health and results in costly repairs. Restoration and cleanup can mean thousands of dollars depending on the severity of the damage. Luckily, your local Mississauga plumbers from Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Mississauga offer preventative routine maintenance services that include thorough plumbing inspections, sewer line repairs, and much more. If you notice early signs of pipe wear or drainage problems, our expert team will get down to any underlying problems and offer you fast and efficient solutions that will extend your plumbing system’s lifespan.

Mississauga sewer backups are often related to damaged pipes, clogged lines or poor overall maintenance that includes flushing non-flushable items like hair, grease or even one piece of paper towel. In this blog, you will discover the ten major causes of sewer backup. Mississauga, ON, property owners can also read on to learn tips on how to properly protect their homes and pipes. Being able to spot warning signs early will help prevent potential costly disasters that could compromise your health or your home's structural integrity.

What Is a Sewer Line?

Every property has a sewer lateral buried underground. All your plumbing fixtures are connected to drain lines that collect all your wastewater and direct it to your lateral system—also known as the main drain or main line. It’s four to six inches in diameter on average and connects with Mississauga’s underground city sewer systems. Unless you have a septic tank and treat your own wastewater, you pay the municipality for waste treatment and the use of public drain lines. However, every household is responsible for its own sewer line. Fortunately, in the event of any unforeseen issues, including a sewer backup, Mississauga, ON homeowners can count on their local emergency plumber for reliable service.

Locating your main sewage line might be tricky—unless you know your cleanout or sewer trap’s exact location. It’s typically located outside your home or in your basement. That pipe gives you direct access to your sewage line. If you’re unsure of its location or want to learn how to properly remove the cap or lid, your plumber will be happy to help.

The cleanout is the gateway to sewage line inspection and treatment of a sewer backup. Mississauga, ON property owners are responsible for covering the costs of water, wastewater treatment, and drainage executed by public wastewater treatment plants—including sanitary sewer water and stormwater treatment—but anything related to your sewer lateral will be your own responsibility. That's why your team of service professionals wants to reassure you that you are not alone if any plumbing issues arise!

10 Common Causes of a Mississauga Sewer Backup

1. Heavy Rainfall

Every homeowner is responsible for the main line up to the edge of their property. That main pipe distributes sewage from your home into the city sewers. Each sewage line has a maximum amount it can handle at a time. When rainfall gets too heavy for your main line’s capacity, it can back up. This is especially true when rainfall continues over a long period of time.

In areas with combined sewer systems, these types of sewer backups are more likely to happen. Combined sewers collect both sewage and storm drainage in one pipe, which means that any excessive rainfall could result in a backup. Many parts of Mississauga have dedicated storm sewers to help prevent backups due to heavy rainfall. Mississauga's stormwater system also protects water quality and lowers the overall risk of flooding that can damage your property and your environment. You may also want to consider installing a backwater valve in your basement that will protect you and your home from flooding and further decrease your risk of experiencing a sewer backup in Mississauga, ON.

2. Tree Roots

One of the most common reasons for a Mississauga sewer backup is damage caused by tree root infiltration. Tree roots and other plants grow toward the water in your pipes, looking for nutrients. This is more likely to happen if you have porous or damaged pipes. During periods of drought in Mississauga, tree roots are a much bigger problem for homeowners as trees seek alternate sources of water to make up for the lack of rain. If you hire your expert Mississauga plumber for an inspection, feel free to highlight this concern to them. It is possible to remove tree roots and repair the affected pipes.

3. City Sewer Backups

Sometimes the city’s sewer system is to blame for a sewer backup. Mississauga, ON property owners should call 311 and check with their neighbours if they suspect there is a backup affecting their whole community.

Multiple homes could be affected in your neighborhood during a widespread Mississauga sewer backup. If the city’s hotline is busy, feel free to contact your local plumber, who will likely be up-to-date! There are different steps to take depending on whether your problem comes from a private waste backup or a public sewer backup in Mississauga, ON.

4. Cracked Pipes and Foundation Cracks

Clogs and pressure are the main causes of broken pipes in households and cracked pipes can lead to sewer backups. Mississauga, ON residents with newer homes may also experience home settling or soil shifting beneath their houses over time. That is when foundation cracks are more likely to occur, and cause problems like slab leaks. A slab leak could be the result of a poor initial installation, soil shifting, water hammer, or another issue that caused damage to your sewage main.

5. Grease

Pouring grease down the drain is disastrous for your drains because once it has cooled, it will solidify and stick to your pipe walls. When that happens, you will experience several early warning signs, like slow draining, gurgles, and foul odors. Pouring hot grease down your drain will also damage your pipes over time, whether you have cast iron, PVC, or ABS.

When combined with the other waste that has reached your pipes over time, the grease creates a major backup. To stop it from evolving into a sewer backup, Mississauga, ON property owners should act fast upon seeing any early warning signs and hire a professional plumber for inspection and drain cleaning services.

6. Non-Flushable

All types of wipes are considered non-flushable items because they are not designed to dissolve like toilet paper. That includes paper towels, tissues, and even so-called “flushable” wipes.

It may seem like an occasional flush is harmless, but like grease, it's the accumulation of the items over time that creates the real issue. These items can't easily make it through your plumbing and get stuck along the way. Over months or years, they will lead to a sewer backup. Mississauga, ON homes that are equipped with a plunger, drain snake and auger may only find temporary relief because the backup might be deeper down the line.

7. Excess Organic Waste

Despite our best efforts, food and other organic waste find their way into sink drains. Taking the right precautions, like using a sink strainer, can keep these items from building up in your drain system over time.

If you have a garbage disposal, it’s crucial that you carefully grind food scraps and maintain the unit well. Clogs and jams in the unit can negatively affect your drainage pipes.

8. Gutters and Downspouts

Your exterior drainage system can also contribute to a backup. It’s important to ensure that your gutters and downspouts do not drain near areas where they may contribute to a stormwater backup, so they can successfully divert stormwater away from your home instead of into your sewage main. However, when storm sewers aren’t part of combined sewage pipes, gutters, and downspouts are less of an issue, although they may still cause damage to your home if they are not draining properly.

9. Spring Snow Melt

In areas with combined sewers, melting snow can bring a large volume of water into your main line. This water usually flows through a gutter or along other drainage routes and into stormwater systems, where it can contribute to a backup the same way as heavy rain.

Sanitary lines are not designed to capture water from melting snow. Doing so can result in sewer backups. Mississauga, ON property owners who are unsure how their system is set up can check with their city or local plumber to confirm that they’re not at risk of suffering from an issue caused by spring meltwater.

10. Collapse

No material used in your sewer pipes will last forever. PVC, copper, clay, and cast iron all eventually degrade, causing problems and developing weaknesses that eventually lead to a full collapse. However, modern materials like PVC have much better longevity than clay or cast iron and come with fewer sewage problems that could lead to flooding in your basement or backyard.

A collapse will cause an instant sewage backup. Aging, corroding systems, or untreated blockages are just some of the factors that could result in a collapse, which is what makes routine inspections so important. The sooner you identify the signs, the sooner preventative measures can be taken.

Tips to Prevent a Mississauga Sewer Backup

There are a few simple ways to protect your Mississauga home. Take a look at the following tips to see how you can improve the long-term maintenance of your drain lines:

Never Pour Oil Down the Drain

There are no scenarios where oil should be poured into a drain. No amount of hot water or soap included with the oil will keep it from backing up the drain later. Pouring grease down the drain seems like a natural solution for getting rid of cooking oil because pouring it into the waste bin can create a big mess, but it will create a bigger mess in your waste system. Instead, reuse the grease if possible or add it to a can and allow it to solidify before throwing it in the compost or garbage.

Only Flush Toilet Paper

Forget trying to remember which items you can flush and which you cannot. Except for toilet paper and waste, do not flush anything in your toilet!

Despite the quick convenience, the combination of non-toilet paper items flushed will accumulate over time, leading to a stubborn clog. This includes various forms of tissues and wipes as they are not capable of breaking down like toilet paper.

Protect Your Plumbing

Everything that goes down the drain seems to disappear magically. The truth is, it's following what could be a difficult path into the city sewer.

To help your sewage successfully get to the main line, protect your pipes. Add mesh drain covers over the bathtub, kitchen, and laundry room drains.

These drains are the biggest culprits for blockage and buildups. Large pieces of leftover food, hair, soap scum, and lint all create backups in your main line.

Maintain the Storm Sewer

The storm sewer on your property is your responsibility to maintain. Cleaning its cover helps to keep the flow of water running smoothly.

Remove debris and snow that accumulates on the sewage cover. We recommend getting the grading of your property to make sure that water flows effectively toward the main line when it rains.

Install High-Quality PVC

Plastic pipes like PVC last far longer than clay or cast iron pipes which need constant repair or replacement in older Mississauga homes. Consult with a licensed plumber to get estimates on the replacement of non-plastic pipes on your property.

Some plumbers may suggest doing this work gradually. This is where you replace the oldest pipes first instead of attempting to redo all pipes at once. To achieve long-term solutions, we recommend doing the job all at once because it ends up being more cost-effective.

Reline Your Existing Pipes

Drain relining, or pipe rehabilitation, using trenchless repair methods is also another option! It’s one of the most economical, non-invasive choices for improving your pipes with minimal disruption to you and your home.

Pipe relining is a trenchless technology used to repair underground pipes. This option is best if the drain goes under your patterned concrete, asphalt driveways, award-winning garden, a big tree, or anywhere where excavating is not a feasible option.

Install a Backwater Prevention Valve

A backwater prevention valve is extremely helpful in protecting your home. This valve allows sewage to pass through only one way, which means a backup from the city won't reach your basement. A backwater valve is best for preventing public sewage and waste from entering your home when Mississauga’s city lines overflow.

What to Do When You Have a Mississauga Sewer Backup

Act fast when your main line backs up to avoid serious problems. You'll usually notice early signs like slow drains, gurgling noises, a pungent smell or sink flies.

When your toilet no longer responds to a plunger or auger, it's time to take action. Contact your local plumber to see whether you can stop the backup from becoming a flood in your basement.

If you don't have a basement, the backup could spill from pipes onto the front lawn, or into other areas of your home, contaminating your surroundings. Avoid coming in contact with dirty water and instantly call your local service professionals for efficient cleanup.

Do You Need Service for a Mississauga Sewer Backup?

Mississauga sewer backup causes vary, but the outcome is pretty consistent. Somewhere on your property, a mess of waste material will appear, waiting to be cleaned. The cost of flood cleanup is high, but often necessary to make sure your property is safe to live in after the flood.

You can avoid this by taking care of your pipes and making sure to stop the wrong things from entering your drains. Install a backwater prevention valve to protect your home and book your routine maintenance and Mississauga drain cleaning appointments to avoid blockage buildup.

There are many options for homeowners to respond to a drain backup or sewage backup, but you can always rely on Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Mississauga to meet your needs with guaranteed solutions and outstanding service. Whether you need emergency plumbing service or an inspection for a potential drain clog, we’re here to help!

Call us to book an appointment or ask our team any questions you might have about Mississauga clogged drain services, Mississauga drain repair, or any other kind of plumbing service.