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Sewer Backups

Service blockage

The most common cause of sewer backup is a blockage of the sanitary service piping between the home and the Municipality's sewer main.

Blockages in sewers can be caused by problems with the sewer service line. Soil settlement, misaligned joints, root infiltration or pipe collapses are fairly common causes of blockages. Sewer blockages can also be caused by items such as cooking grease, rags, or pieces of solid debris that have been flushed down a household drain.

Misaligned joint

If you have a sewer blockage, your floor drain will usually provide evidence a problem is occurring within your sewer system. The sewage discharge will generally rise within the piping system and discharge may appear around the floor drain. You can control the degree or amount of backup by not using your plumbing fixtures until you have the sewers checked by a plumber or a drain cleaning company.

Sewer blockages are the responsibility of the property owner, however sometimes the cause of the blockage can be on the public property side of your sewer service. If you or your plumber/drain cleaning contractor suspects the blockage may be on the public sewer service you can contact Environmental Services (780) 743-7000 - 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Please be aware that if the blockage is caused by anything other than defects within the Municipality's service line you may be charged part or all of the expense related to clearing the blockage, even if the blockage occurs beyond the property line.

Blockages due to tree roots

In older areas where "clay tile" pipe was used for service piping, tree roots can enter the service pipe at joints and cause blockages. The roots can travel a long way depending on the type of trees. If you or your plumber suspect tree roots are entering the sewer service and causing sewer backup problems, please call the Municipality at (780) 743-7000.

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Root infiltration
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Root infiltration

The Municipality will investigate and if root infiltration is identified, a plan to eliminate or control the root growth will be implemented. Note: The Municipality is responsible for root infiltration on public property piping occurring from public property trees only. Should the investigation indicate root infiltration on private property, the homeowner or tenant will be invoiced for time spent conducting the investigation.

Sewer main backup

On rare occasions, a blockage can occur in a municipality sanitary main. If the blockage is not detected in time, sewage from the main sewer can backup into homes through the floor drain. Usually this happens slowly and is very similar to a service blockage. If you or your plumber suspects a sewer main blockage please contact Environmental Services at (780) 743-7000. The Municipality will send an operator to check the main and advise you on what needs to be done.

If water is entering into your basement at a very rapid rate and you are not using water in your home (such as a shower or washing machine), call Environmental Services at (780) 799-5823 to report the problem. The Municipality will send a staff member to inspect the sewer main and advise you on what needs to be done.

Water in Basement

Poor landscaping practices sometimes allow soil to settle adjacent to the house and if not corrected can lead to rainwater flowing towards the house and running down the outside of the foundation wall. Particularly in older homes (15 years +), cracks may have developed in the foundation or floor slab which allows this water to enter the basement.

The cement floor and basement walls in older homes (1980's or later) may have deteriorated to the point where they are no longer waterproof. A basement which has never had water problems may develop problems with water seepage or leaking. This will usually happen after a number of rain storms when the ground is saturated.

Improved lot drainage away from the house is the first step, and usually significantly improves the problem. Fixing a basement floor or wall which has severely corroded is a major project, usually requiring a foundation specialist. It is also very important to ensure eaves trough pipes are connected with the drain pipe at least one meter away from the house.

Most basement flooding is not related to the Sanitary Sewer system.

FLOOD RECOVERY: Information and resources