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

Few people think twice about where the drains take waste from their homes. Sewer lines are mainly the talk of professional Mississauga plumbers and homebuilders. While this may be true, it’s important for every Mississauga homeowner to have a basic understanding of their plumbing system because a problem with a sewer line can be devastating. ​

A flood of sewage into your basement is dangerous to your health and costly to repair. Restoration and cleanup can mean thousands of dollars depending on the extent of damage in your home.

In fact, a flooded basement costs an average of $43,000 to repair, according to the latest numbers from the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

So, what can Mississauga homeowners do to prevent sewer backup? Understanding sewer backups cause and regular maintenance is the answer.

Now although there are many early symptoms of drainage problems, our plumbing experts find that the main cause of sewer backups is related to clay tile drains. When clay pipes are breached and are no longer watertight your home is at risk. This is especially common in older Mississauga homes and established neighbourhoods, but newer homes don’t get off so easily because plastic pipes can also backup any time of the year.

In this blog, you will discover the ten major symptoms and causes of sewer backup and how you can properly protect your home and your pipes. Being able to identify potential risks of sewer backup causes will help prevent potential costly disasters in the future. It will save you and your family from having to deal with the headaches of a sewer backup.

Let’s jump right into our list of the top ten most common causes.

What Causes Sewer Backup in Mississauga?

1. Heavy Rainfall

Every Mississauga homeowner is responsible for the main sewer line up until the edge of the property. The sewer line is the main pipe that distributes sewage from your home into the city sewers.

Each sewer line has a maximum amount it can handle at a time. When the rainfall gets too heavy for the capacity of the sewer line, the line can get backed up. This is especially true when rainfall continues over a long period of time.

When areas have large amounts of combined sewer lines, sewer backups are more likely to happen. A combined sewer line collects both sewage and storm drainage in one pipe.

You may also want to consider installing a backwater valve if you are experiencing some plumbing problems after heavy rainfall.

In Mississauga, there are dedicated storm sewers to help prevent backups due to heavy rainfall. The stormwater drainage system also protects water quality and lowers the risk of flooding that can damage your property and the environment

2. Tree Roots

One of the most common reasons for sewer backup in Mississauga is damage caused by tree roots. Tree roots and other plants grow toward the water in your pipes looking for nutrients.

There is nothing you can do to prevent tree roots from spreading over time. They will eventually grow deep enough to impact one or more pipes under your home.

The impact doesn't always damage the pipes, but when it does the results can mean trouble for your basement. If you have an older house with clay pipes, you run a greater risk of damage caused by tree roots.

This is because the surface of the pipes is porous making it easier for roots to breakthrough. 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.

3. City Sewer

Sometimes sewer backup causes come from the city sewer line. City sewer lines back up for many of the same reasons as homeowners, but have a much larger effect on the community.

There could be multiple homes in a neighbourhood that experience a sewer backup when a city sewer gets clogged. Contact a professional plumber to determine where the source of the backup is located.

There are different steps to take depending on whether your problem comes from a sanitary sewer line or a storm sewer line.

For Mississauga residents, the Region of Peel offers support for sanitary sewer backups 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For help with storm sewer backups, call the City of Mississauga.

4. Cracked Pipes

Cracked pipes can lead to sewer backups. As the earth shifts beneath your house over time, the pipes are bound to experience wear and tear.

Once the pipes crack, the sewer lines will create big problems. This is especially true with older Mississauga homes as they are more likely to have clay or cast iron pipes.

Both clay and cast iron are known for cracking over time.

5. Grease

Pouring grease down the drain is an avoidable cause of sewer backups. Though pouring a small amount of grease at a time may seem harmless, it will eventually solidify once it cools in your drain.

When combined with the other waste that has reached your pipes over time, the grease creates a major clog. The blockage leads to a sewer backup that can mean lots of flooding in your basement.

6. Non-flushables

Another reason for sewer backups is flushing items down the toilet that are not flushable. Common examples include diapers, sanitary napkins, and paper towels.

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 pipes and get stuck along the way.

Over months or years, they will lead to a sewer line backup.

7. Excess Organic Waste

Despite our best efforts, food and other organic waste find its way into the sink drains. Taking the right precautions can keep these items from building up in your pipes over time.

While washing dishes, not using the garbage disposal for solid foods means a clog can build in the pipes. Never allow coffee grinds or any type of oil to go into the sink.

8. Gutters and Downspouts

Storm sewer lines can become backed up when the gutters aren't regularly cleaned and a combined piping system is used. The backup of leaves and sticks means water cannot properly drain when connected to sanitary sewer lines.

This is because sanitary sewer lines are built to hold a much smaller capacity than a dedicated storm sewer line. When the storm sewer lines are not part of combined sewage pipes, the connection of a gutter or downspout is less of an issue.

9. Spring Snow Melt

Melting snow brings a large volume of water into a sewer line at the end of the winter season. This water usually flows through a gutter or sump pump and into a drainage system. Combined sewer lines are a terrible option for areas with heavy snowfall.

Sanitary sewer lines are not designed to capture the water from melting snow. Doing so can result in sewer line backups each season.

10. Collapsed Pipes

No material used in your sewer pipes will last forever. PVC, clay, cast iron, and Orangeburg are common types of sewage pipe material.

The collapse of these pipes is another reason for sewer line backups. Collapsed pipes generally happen to old pipes made of materials that become brittle with age.

Newer, plastic pipes have much better longevity than clay or cast iron. Plastic pipes mean fewer sewage problems that lead to flooding in your basement.

Tips to Prevent Sewage Backup in Your Mississauga Home

There are a few simple ways to prevent sewage backups in your Mississauga home. Take a look at the following tips to see how you can improve the long term maintenance of the pipes on your property:

Don't Pour Oil Into the Drain

There are no scenarios where oil is ok to pour into the drain. No amount of hot water or soap included with the oil will keep it from clogging 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.

Reuse the grease if possible or add it to a glass jar and refrigerate it. Once the chilled grease becomes a solid, you can easily spoon it out into the garbage without creating a mess.

Flush Only Toilet Paper

Forget trying to remember which items can be flushed and which cannot. With the exception of toilet paper and some hygiene products, 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 an eventual clog. This includes various forms of tissue and cleaning wipes as they are not specifically labelled for the toilet.

Protect Your Pipes

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 sewer line, protect your pipes. Add mesh drain covers over the bathtub, kitchen and laundry room drain.

These drains are the biggest culprits for pipe buildup. Large pieces of leftover food, hair, soap scum and lint all create clogs in your sewer line.

Maintain the Storm Sewer

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

Remove debris and snow that accumulates on the sewage cover as it happens. Also, consider getting the grading of your property checks to make sure that water is flowing toward the sewer when it rains.

All water should flow away from your home to avoid possible problems.

Install Plastic Pipes

This recommendation is easier said than done for some homeowners, but is a must if your pipes are deteriorating.

Plastic pipes last far longer than clay or cast iron pipes which need constant repair or replacement in older Mississauga homes. Consult with a local Mississauga 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. We recommend to always do the job all at once because it ends up being more cost-effective compared to several smaller projects.

Reline Your Existing Pipes

Drain relining, or drain rehabilitation, is also another option. It’s one of the most economical choices with minimal excavation and disruption to you and your home.

Drain relining is basically a trenchless rehabilitation method used to repair existing pipelines.

This option is best if the drain goes under patterned concrete, asphalt driveway, award-winning garden, under a big tree, or where excavating is not a feasible option.

Backwater Prevention Valve

A backwater prevention valve is extremely helpful in keeping the flow of sewage away from your home. This valve allows sewage to pass through only one way which means a backup from the city won't reach your basement.

This option is best for preventing waste from the city sewer to enter your home when it overflows.

What to Do When Your Sewer Backs Up

Act fast when our sewer line backs up to avoid serious problems. You'll usually notice slow drains, gurgling noises, a pungent smell, or a presence of drain flies first. These are your early signs.

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

In cases where homeowners have no basement, the backup could spill from pipes onto the front lawn creating a mess. If you'd rather clean up the mess yourself, assume all material from the backup is contaminated.

Avoid coming in contact with the sewage water without heavy rubber gloves, protective eyewear, rubber boots, and protective clothing. Usually, sewage cleanup is left to professionals who can respond quickly and thoroughly to ensure groundwater doesn't become contaminated.

Any wastewater that comes into contact with your central air conditioning unit creates a potentially bigger hazard. Call for help immediately to address this situation.

If the water sits for more than 24 hours, the job is beyond your ability to clean yourself. Call a professional service to quickly remove the waste.

The Bottom Line: Sewer Backup Causes

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. With small flooding, you can save by doing the work yourself with the right protective gear.

You can avoid this by taking care of your pipes and making sure to keep the wrong things from entering your drains. Install a backwater prevention valve to protect your home from sewage backups from the neighbourhood that may be beyond your control.

There are many options for Mississauga residents to respond to a sanitary sewer and storm sewer backup. If you need professional consultation on how to navigate these options, contact us.

Now you can get professional sewer backup advice without the hassle.

Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Mississauga will provide you with a complimentary assessment and walk you through your option. Call us at (905) 817-0210 or book an appointment today.