3 Common Sewer Pipe Problems: Causes, Signs, and Solutions

A sewer pipe in Mississauga, ON that a plumber has cut in half in order to remove blockage and repair the pipe.

Dealing with plumbing problems is never fun, but there is one type of plumbing problem that no one wants to deal with: sewer pipe issues. When raw sewage is involved, the stakes are higher. Not only is wastewater disgusting, but it can be harmful to your health as well. The longer a malfunctioning sewer pipe is ignored, the more likely it is that a sewer backup will occur, spewing blackwater into your home. By ensuring that you can identify sewer pipe problems early on so that you have time to hire a licensed plumber for a Mississauga sewer pipe repair and replacement service, the better.

There are three main types of sewer pipe issues that can arise in lateral lines or the pipes that are located on your property. As a homeowner, you are wholly responsible for the costs associated with plumbing repairs and replacements on your property. Below, we've outlined a few of the most common problems, signs of these problems, and steps you can take to mitigate their effects before calling a Mississauga plumber. All sewer pipe problems will need to be dealt with by professional plumbers to effectively eliminate the problem, but DIY tips may be used in the case that you are unable to get a plumber in as soon as possible. The three most common Mississauga sewer pipe issues include clogged pipes, tree root invasion, and broken pipes.

(1) Clogged Sewer Pipes

No matter how careful you think you’re being, it’s easy for your lines to become clogged over time. If even the use of a traditional bar soap can cause grease to build up and block your drains, it’s no surprise that putting things you shouldn’t down the sink and toilet can wreak even more havoc.

The only two things that should ever be flushed down your toilet are toilet paper and human bodily waste. Common culprits of blocked toilets and sewer pipes include:

  • Paper towels
  • ‘Flushable’ wipes (hint: they’re not actually flushable!)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Hair
  • Children’s toys

If your toilet is clogged, it’ll be pretty evident. Some common signs are:

  • Sewer odors. Mississauga sewer pipes are connected not just to toilets but to showers and bathtubs as well. When a blockage forms and the wastewater has nowhere to go, you may be able to smell it coming up from your shower and bathtub drains.
  • Slow drains. If only one of your drains seems to be draining slowly, you may have a clog in a water line. If all are draining slowly, that’s an indication that there’s a blockage in your sewer line, as all wastewater drains connect to your sanitary sewer line.
  • Gurgling sounds. If you flush your toilet and you hear gurgling in your shower, or you run your dishwasher and hear gurgling in your sink, you probably have a blocked line.

There are a couple of things you can try to repair and clear out obstructions in your Mississauga sewer pipes. First, you’ll need to locate the sewer cleanout on your property. This pipe and cap allows you to access the sanitary sewer line. Your sewer cleanout may be located on the inside of your home (in a utility room or garage) or on the exterior (close to your home’s perimeter).

After opening the cap and allowing any overflow to expel, use an auger—purchased or rented from your local hardware store—to break up the blockage. Unless you’re a trained plumber, you probably won’t be able to remove the clog entirely, but you may be able to break it up enough to get your wastewater draining again. However, if the blockage is caused by a tree root, that’s a whole other ball game.

(2) Tree Root Intrusion

While sewage is something homeowners try to ignore and stay away from, it’s the exact opposite for trees. The purpose of roots is to find nutrients for the plant, of which there is a ton in sewage. Not only is it high in nutrients, but sewage carries lots of water as well, allowing trees to stay hydrated.

Most tree roots are unable to penetrate sewer pipes on their own, but if joints between pipes become loose or cracks and holes develop through corrosion, then they will find their way into these points of weakness and enter the pipe. As they grow, they may create blockages in pipes and force them to break apart further.

Signs of tree roots in a Mississauga sewer pipe are generally very similar to the signs of a clog. In addition to the above signs, evidence of damage may include the following:

  • The presence of foul odours outdoors
  • Patches of wet and particularly green grass in specific areas of your yard
  • Sinkholes

A common question homeowner have is, "how fast do roots grow in Mississauga sewer pipes?" This depends largely on the type of plant, but once destroyed, they can regrow to the same size—or bigger—in as little as a month. Mississauga sewer pipe repair and potentially tree removal are the only long-term solutions.

That being said, there are a few methods for temporarily killing growth on your own. There are two solutions you can use:

  • Rock salt. That salt that you sprinkle on your driveway and sidewalk during winter can be flushed down your toilet to kill growth. You’ll want to flush about a pound down the drain, as this amount should be sufficient to draw moisture outside of the roots, effectively killing them. Ensure that you avoid flushing anything else down the drain for several hours to allow the salt to do its job.
  • Root killer. Another option involves purchasing a root killer product from your local hardware store. Like rock salt, this can be flushed down the toilet to kill and break down organic matter without harming your plumbing.

(3) Broken Sewer Pipes

While blockages caused by roots or other debris are the most common culprits of Mississauga sewer pipe repairs, sewer pipes may also crack, corrode, collapse and burst. Most commonly, these kinds of issues happen on properties with older homes. Today, a much more robust type of plastic is used for Mississauga sewer pipes, but because repairing and replacing an entire plumbing system is highly expensive, many old homes still have their original piping. Some of the materials that sewer lines in old homes may be made out of include galvanized steel, brick, concrete, cast iron, and clay. If your home was built in 1980 or earlier, there's a high chance that you may have Mississauga sewer pipes made out of one of these materials. As these materials age, they begin to break down.

Some of the other causes of broken sewer pipes include:

  • Weather changes and erosion. This can cause the ground to shift, resulting in sagging pipes that may crack along the center.
  • Traffic and construction. If there are a lot of vibrations in the nearby area, cracking may occur.
  • Improper installation. Joints between segments of piping must be tight, or they may loosen and lead to leaks.

There’s really not much you can do to repair a broken sewer pipe without the help of an expert plumber. For one, you likely do not know where the broken pipe is located—though a patch of grass that seems to be flourishing more than the rest of your yard may be a good hint. Additionally, professional plumbers have the equipment to repair and replace damaged pipes using minimally invasive methods. If you notice any of the below signs of a broken sewer pipe, call your local plumber for repair right away:

  • Irregular water pressure
  • Nasty odours
  • Smelly puddles in your yard

Ignoring These Problems Could Be Catastrophic

Homeowners put off important maintenance and repair tasks all the time. You may be tempted to put off calling a plumber out of concern about how much the service will cost. Unfortunately, in an effort to save money, many homeowners end up paying thousands of dollars more than they would have if they had called a plumber right away. This is because unaddressed problems with sewer pipes can cause a sewer backup.

When a sewer pipe gets blocked or collapses, the wastewater can no longer travel through your sanitary sewer to the main city sewer. With nowhere else to go, raw sewage will reverse its path and come out of your drains. In many cases, this may cause extensive damage. Not only does water damage occur, but because of the potential health issues that raw sewage may cause, a remediation specialist will need to be called in to repair and disinfect your property.

Many homeowners also do not realize that they are responsible for the sewer lines on their property and that blocked drains are rarely covered by home insurance policies. Even if you don’t have any trees on your property, but there’s a tree that belongs to the city close by, any damage caused to your pipes by its tree roots will be your responsibility. This is because, in most cases, the roots find their way into already existing problems in your pipes. The key to avoiding the repair expenses associated with major Mississauga sewer pipe problems is to invest in preventative maintenance services.

Diagnosing Mississauga Sewer Pipe Problems

Whether you’re experiencing some of the signs discussed above of a damaged Mississauga sewer pipe or you live in an older home and want to ensure that you catch any issues before they get too big, it’s a good idea to hire a plumbing company to conduct sewer line inspections.

The most common method used for this service is video inspections, which involve inserting a video camera attached to the end of an auger down into your sewer system. While looking at the live video, your plumber will be able to identify the location of the issue, as well as spot any potential problems, such as a tiny tree root in your pipes, before they get out of hand.

Sewer Pipe Repair and Installation

Mississauga sewer pipe replacement and sewer pipe installation are the best solutions for addressing cracks and deterioration, while sewer cleaning is the best solution for clogs.

Sewer line replacement is usually done using trenchless methods, such as pipe relining and hydraulic pipe replacement. For both of these methods, your plumbers will only have to dig a small hole at either end of your line. Pipe rehabilitation prevents the need for extensive landscaping following service, thereby costing you less in the long run.

To remove clogs, the preferred method of sewer line repair has historically been to use an auger. Plumbers use more advanced augers than the ones available on a consumer level, but even plumbers are replacing augers with Hydro Scrub® Jetting. Composed of a tank, hose and nozzle, the Hydro Scrub® system sends highly pressurized water through your lines to blast away not just the clog but any other debris that may be sticking to your sewer pipe walls. The benefit of this method compared to drain snaking is that it not only breaks up the center of the clog but eliminates it entirely, thereby preventing it from reforming. As long as you're careful about what you put down your drain following your Hydro Scrub® service, you shouldn't need clog removal ever again.

The Right Time for Sewer Pipe Repair or Cleaning Is Now

Problems with Mississauga sewer pipes are common, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be costly. The best thing you can do to protect your sewer system and avoid paying for costly repairs is to invest in preventative maintenance services provided by Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Mississauga. Already experiencing issues? We can also help remove clogs, destroy tree roots and repair your pipes so that you can avoid a sewer backup.

We’ve established a reputation as a leading choice for residential and commercial plumbing services across all Mississauga communities, including but not limited to Erindale, Lakeview, and Clarkson. Our professional plumbers are fully licensed and insured and will provide you with upfront pricing prior to beginning service. The price we quote you is the price you pay—we never charge overtime fees, and all of our workmanship and parts are guaranteed.

To book your Mississauga sewer pipe repair, replacement, or cleaning service, give our office team a call today and we'll be happy to arrange a time for an in-person quote or book you in for your service appointment right away.