The “Toronto Main Sewer Line Clog” Pro Guide: Top Questions and Solutions

Connection point that could be affected by a main line sewer clog.

Are you tired of strange smells and slow drains in your Toronto home? Clogs, water buildup, and foul odors are common plumbing problems that, unfortunately, can also be indicative of more serious issues that can plague the homes and buildings of Toronto. Main sewer line clog fiascos happen to be one of these serious issues.

Your main sewer line is a vital artery that connects to every fixture in your home to carry waste out and into the city's larger sewage lines. Recurring plumbing problems or issues that occur simultaneously across your home can be a sign of a blockage in your most important pipe. A main sewer line clog will cause both minor issues and major issues that could damage the health of your family and your home.

Our team of licensed Toronto plumbers has seen it all before, and we know the serious problems that can develop from an unaddressed Toronto main sewer line clog. To avoid those future disasters, it's best to stay informed about warning signs, causes, and solutions for problems in your sewer lines.

How Do I Know If I Have A Main Sewer Line Clog in Toronto?

Plumbing problems generally make themselves well known. Because your water lines and drains are used repeatedly daily, the moment something goes wrong, you’ll likely notice. However, unless you have a background in plumbing, determining why your system is malfunctioning isn’t so easy.

There are several telltale signs of a clogged sewer drain that you should be aware of:

  • Toilets not flushing properly
  • Flushing causes water to back up in your shower drain
  • Your washing machine causes overflow elsewhere
  • You hear gurgling and other strange sounds coming from your toilet when you run water in the closest sink
  • Slow drainage in one or multiple sinks
  • Foul odors emanating from sinks
  • Sewage backed up in your floor drains
  • Flooding in one or more areas of your home

The two things that all of these obvious signs have in common is that water either resists going down your sinks, or water ends up back in your home rather than the other way around. Gurgling and resistance to draining tell you that your wastewater is having trouble going down your pipes, while backups and odors indicate that there’s a higher water level within your sewer pipes themselves. With nowhere else to go, the water has no choice but to come back out.

Who Is Responsible For Main Sewer Line Clogs?

In Toronto, as in many cities, responsibility is shared between the city and homeowners. The city’s sewer, also known as the sanitary sewer, runs beneath roadways. Branching off from this sanitary sewer are lateral sewer lines, which extend up to the homeowner’s property.

Municipal services will only fix what lies between the sanitary sewer and your property lines. Everything sewer or water main within the boundaries of your property is your responsibility.

How Can I Tell If It's My Main Sewer Line Or The City’s Sewer Main?

A main sewer line clog refers to a clog within your property’s lateral lines, but clogs can also form in your drains and Toronto’s main sewer line. Clog location can be determined by a licensed plumber, but you can probably make an educated guess as to which of these lines the clog is in.

Returning to the telltale signs of a clog above, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does flushing or sink use in one area cause gurgling or backups in another? If so, then the problem is not an individual line but a main sewer line clog. Toronto’s main line may be the culprit, or it could be located in your main lateral line.
  • Are my neighbors also experiencing issues? If you suspect that the disruption begins in a city main, you should ask your closest neighbors if they're also experiencing issues. If plumbing problems are occurring in multiple homes, there's a higher chance that the problem is in a city line.

If you think the problem is with a city main, be sure to call the city immediately to make sure that they are aware of the issue. If you suspect that the problem might be your main sewer line or an individual drain clog, then the responsibility for drain cleaning and repair remains with you.

What Are the Causes of a Toronto Main Sewer Line Clog?

Many scenarios lead to disruptions in your sewer line, but when it comes to clogs, the problem is often a case of foreign material in your system. The pipes in your home were designed to transport a limited selection of matter that typically includes just three things: Toilet paper, human waste, and water. You should avoid flushing anything down your sinks and pipes that isn't one of those three things.

Always follow these tips when it comes to what goes down your main drain:

  1. Don't use excessive amounts of toilet paper—it will take longer to dissolve, and too much buildup may cause a clog.
  2. Don't flush trash or debris—this applies to garbage disposals as well.
  3. Don't put edible material or food waste down your sink—fats, oils, and grease are some of the biggest contributors to clogs, but this also applies to waste like coffee grounds, condiments, and food scraps.

If you’re very careful about what goes down your pipes and you think you may have a clog, another cause could be tree root intrusion.

Tree roots tend to find their way into underground lines in older Toronto homes. Lines in homes today are made out of PVC, PEX, and Poly-B, but up until several decades ago, they were made out of materials that were susceptible to deterioration. As these pipes age, they can develop hairline cracks.

A tree root that is searching for water and nutrients will be attracted to a damaged sewer line and will infiltrate the tiny crack. As the tree root makes itself at home in your sewer line, it will grow until your sewage can no longer pass through to Toronto’s main sewer line. Clog removal and pipe repair or replacement become necessary at this point.

What Shouldn't I Flush Down My Drains?

The simple answer? Pretty much everything. Waste, toilet paper, and soap are the only things that should be rinsed down your pipes; otherwise, you risk needing a Toronto main sewer line clog removal service. Though it may seem like small food waste shouldn’t cause major issues, you’d be surprised how easily it manages to stick to your pipe’s walls. Once a little bit of food debris, oil, or grease sticks, other small food waste tends to stick to it, eventually resulting in a clog.

In addition to fats, oils, grease, and food waste, most bathroom items are also unsuitable for flushing. It might be tempting to toss the floss and flush, but doing so could cause major problems down the line.

Additionally, never flush the following: 

  • Tissues and wet wipes (even wipes with the "flushable" label)
  • Paper towel
  • Q-tips
  • Cotton balls
  • Floss
  • Feminine hygiene products

If you feel the need to ask or wonder if it's okay to toss something in the toilet or the sink, the answer is usually "no." Though it may feel like a pain to scrape all that food waste into your compost bin, the tiny bit of extra time it takes to do that is well worth avoiding the cost of a Toronto main sewer line clog removal service.

How Do I Fix a Toronto Main Sewer Line Clog?

You followed all the rules and remembered all the tips, and you still have a clog. Or maybe you recently moved into an older home and suspect the previous owners weren’t as diligent as you are. Alternatively, you may have unknowingly rinsed things down the pipe that don’t belong there, but you’ll know better in the future—thanks to this guide! 

Regardless of why you may have a clog, don't worry! Recognizing the signs early means that you can take action to try to break the blockage before it breaks your pipes. There are three main solutions you have to choose from manual, chemical, and professional clog removal.

The Manual Option

Every home should have a plunger. Using one is simple, and there are even different options to suit your needs. A backup of material in your pipes will often be dislodged with just a good plunger and some effort.

Consider the best option for your needs:

  • A standard plunger is the basic flexible cup-on-a-stick. It works well for sinks because it creates a seal across a flat surface, but you'll have difficulty using this on your toilet.
  • A toilet plunger is more specialized and includes a fold-out flap inside the cup that works well for creating a seal in small areas.
  • An accordion plunger is an even more specialized version of a toilet plunger and is a great option for clearing bathroom clogs because of the power you can generate with its small opening and unique shape. However, this plunger won't be as effective for sinks.

Plungers are most effective for clogged drains. If you have a main sewer line clogged in Toronto, you’re going to need to use a drain auger. Augers, also known as drain snakes, can be used to break up the center of a clog and get things moving again. To access your main line, you’ll need to access the pipe through your drain cleanout, which is located outside of your home. If this option is too messy for you, consider calling a professional plumber to do the job instead.

The Chemical Option

Chemical solutions like Drano or copper sulfate might be effective short-term solutions for dealing with minor clogs, but with repeated use, these chemicals could damage your pipes and leave them in worse condition than before.

Chemical drain cleaners tend to be incredibly harsh, and if the cause of the blockage is tree roots, they won’t do a thing. Alternatively, you can use an enzymatic cleaner, which uses enzymes to break down organic matter. This is a safer solution compared to chemical cleaners, but if the blockage is caused by something other than organic matter, it won’t be effective.

Repeatedly flushing chemical cleaners down the sink or toilet when a sewer line blockage won’t budge can also cause raw sewage to back up into your home. The cost of water damage repairs and remediation services are costly repairs that could add up to thousands of dollars.

The Professional Option

The best way to clear a main sewer line clog in Toronto is to hire a licensed plumber for the job. Professional plumbers have access to technology like video camera augers, which allow them to do a sewer camera inspection and see the inside of your sewer lines, thereby allowing them to identify the cause of your Toronto main sewer line clog. After acquiring that valuable data, they can then offer the best solution to fix the problem. 

Professional drain cleaning services involve using high-pressure water to blast every last trace of the clog away. If you’ve recently moved into an older home, having this service done is a great idea. If the clog has caused broken pipes or tree root instructions have been identified, they may offer sewer line repair or pipe replacement services. A reputable company like Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Toronto will provide you with upfront pricing and a service guarantee to ensure that your investment in professional plumbing services is well spent.

When You Need A Trusted Plumber, Look No Further Than Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Toronto

If you've tried the DIY options above and you still have an issue, you might need more specialized tools like a taze plunger, drain snake, or powered auger. You might also be experiencing more than a simple clog if your pipes have been damaged by roots, shifting earth, or other elements.

If you need specialized tools for clogged drains or emergency plumbing services, it's time to seek out the expertise of an experienced plumber. Give our experienced team at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Toronto a call to request our expert Toronto main sewer line clog removal service, and we’ll have your plumbing system’s functionality restored in no time!