Sewer Issues

What you should know about your sewer service line and system:

The sewer system collects wastewater from your home and transports it to the Alberta Capital Region Wastewater Treatment Plant. Your sewer service line connects your home sewer to the City's main lines.

Terms To Know:

Service Line
The piping that connects your house or building sewer to the wastewater main.

Mainline
The portion of the wastewater system that collects and transports wastewater to the treatment plant. Typically, this portion of the system is located in or near the street.

Access Point
The cleanout or other point of access to the wastewater service line for the purposes of inspection and cleaning.

Front Floor Cleanout A cleanout or access point that is located in the floor, often near the front wall of the house.

What you should do if you experience a sewage backup in your home:

If you think your sewer is backing up DO NOT:

  • Flush the toilet;
  • Run the dishwasher or laundry machine;
  • Have a shower/bath; or
  • Turn on the taps

During regular working hours from 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., please contact the City of St. Albert Public Works department at 780-459-1557. If you experience sewer backup after regular working hours, please call the 24-hour emergency number at 780-458-2020. An operator will be notified of your service request and will contact you for more details prior to responding.

To determine the problem, the Utilities Operator will ask you the following questions:

  • Is the sewer backing up at this moment?
  • When did you first notice the problem?
  • Have you experienced a sewer backup before?
  • Does this only happen when water is used in the building?
  • Does this only happen when a certain fixture is used, such as taps, toilets, shower/bathtub or laundry machine?

What City staff will do:

  • When receiving the call, the City will dispatch a Utilities operator to assess the problem.
  • To help determine the potential source, City staff will first check the City main sewer lines, both upstream and downstream from your home.
  • If the main line is clear, and providing that a four-inch cleanout access is available within your home, a power ream and camera inspection of the service line is performed. The homeowner is required to sign service agreement form prior to any work taking place on private property and charges may apply.
  • Cleanouts smaller than four-inches are not normally eligible for cleaning and camera work due to the size of the necessary equipment and the likelihood of equipment damage.
  • If the available cleanout is not suitable for proper cleaning of the service line, the operators, at their discretion, may attempt to unplug the blockage. No camera inspection is performed and charges for the service are applied. In this case, the City has no way of ensuring the quality of the cleaning. You may be advised to hire a plumber to replace the cleanout or perform further cleaning at your expense.

What causes a sanitary sewer to back up?

Most common back up causes are:

  • Solids/debris - Typical solids that build up in the pipe and cause back ups include fat, oil, grease, dirt, hair, bones, paper towels, kitty litter, diapers, broken dishware, garbage, concrete, and debris.
  • Tree root infiltration - Tree roots can cause back ups. Tree roots take advantage of leaks or breaks and faulty pipe joints in the service line piping and may infiltrate the pipe system plugging the wastewater flow.
  • Structural defects in pipes - Significant sags in the service line, cracks, holes, protruding laterals, misaligned pipe, offset and open joints, and collapsing pipe material are all possible causes of back ups.

What you should know to help mitigate a sewer line backup:

  • Do not pour grease or cooking oil down the drain. Instead scrape out or pour cooking oil and grease into a container or plastic bag and dispose of it in your kitchen garbage. Make sure to wipe any residue with a paper towel.
  • Do not dispose of large absorbent items, like paper towels, diapers, baby wipes or feminine products, down the toilet. These products should be disposed of in your garbage.
  • Kitchen garburators increase the amount of organic material in the service lines. Depending on the condition of the service line, organic material can stick to the lines and over time cause blockages. Compost your organic material instead!