Sewer Issues

What to Know About Your Sewer Service

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. 

The following table defines common terms to famliarize yourself with when experiencing sewer issues.

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 another point of access to the wastewater service line for 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.


Sewage Backups

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

Instead, contact The city and have the following information ready:

  • 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 Will City Staff 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's main sewer lines, both upstream and downstream, from your home. .
  • If the mainline is clear and providing that a four-inch cleanout access is available within your home, we'll perform a power ream and camera inspection of the service line. Subject to Sanitary Sewer Bylaw, the following charges may apply:
    • Wastewater Service Line Disruption Callouts
      • Deficiencies contained on City Property ($0)
      • Deficiencies contained on both City and Private Property ($85)
      • Deficiencies contained on Private Properties ($170)
  • 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 Sewer Backup?

  • 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.

How to Help Mitigate a Sewage 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!
  • Make sure your backwater valve is working
    • Backwater valves (if applicable) are mechanical devices used in many homes to prevent backflow and reduce the risk of sewer backing up into basements. If your home is equipped with this device it is recommended that periodic inspections be made to ensure it is operational.
    • Remove the cleanout plug on top of the device and do a visual inspection.
    • Use a flashlight to see inside the device and inspect for debris build-up.
    • Flush away any debris found and inspect the valve 'O' ring to ensure it does not need to be replaced and that the valve is sitting properly.
    • Ensure the valve moves freely and moves up and down and reinstall the cleanout plug.

Resources

Sanitary Sewer Bylaw


Related Pages

Last edited: September 9, 2021