Common Signs of a Sewage Backup

Common Signs of a Sewage Backup

Of all flood damage claims in Canada, over 40% are from sewage backups. Houses in Pickering and the Durham Region are no exception to this statistic.

Not only are these backups smelly and unsightly, but they can cause real damage to your home and property.

If you’re experiencing any of the signs listed below, it’s important to get in touch with an emergency plumber as soon as possible.

Foul, Sewer-Like Odors from Drains

One of the first – and most obvious – things you’ll notice that could indicate a sewage backup is a foul odor.

If you are noticing a sewage-like smell coming from your drains, it’s likely that there is sewage backing up into your home. This can be a serious health hazard and should not be ignored.

To ensure it’s a sewage backup and not simply an item clogged in a single drain there are some things you can do. Check all the drains in your home. If it’s just from the kitchen sink, for example, it may just be individually clogged. However, a sewer-like stench from multiple drains is more likely to indicate a sewage backup.

Bubbling Drains & Toilets

If your toilet is bubbling or your drains are gurgling, it’s another sign that sewage is backing up into your home.

This happens when water is trying to get past the clog, and air pockets form and get trapped.

If you notice this after flushing your toilet, or from sinks as they drain it’s probably time to get in touch with a plumber.

Keep in mind, there are some preventative steps you can take to avoid this problem.

Multiple Drains Clogged or Slowly Draining

One clogged drain is hardly uncommon. If you’re noticing that more than one drain in your home is clogged though, it’s possible that there’s a sewage backup happening.

Abnormally slow draining is usually a good indicator of a blockage in a drain. If you’re seeing this in multiple drains, contact a plumber.
In the case of a single clogged drain, you may want to consider a chemical drain cleaner.

Drains Backing into Other Drains

If you notice that running one tap or shower causes another drain in your home to start backing up, it’s likely that sewage is trying to find another way out.

This generally happens when the mainline is clogged and the backup is coming from a secondary line.

Slow Flushing Toilets

If your toilets are flushing slowly, this could be another sign of a sewage backup.

This happens when the clog is preventing water from quickly entering and leaving the tank, which causes it to back up and overflow.

If you’re seeing any of these signs, contact an emergency plumber right away.

What Causes Sewage Backups?

Sewage backups can be caused by many things. Often, after heavy rains or storms, the sewage system can become overwhelmed and sewage will start to back up, but a sewage backup can happen at any time.

Here are some of the precursors listed below.

Clogged or Blocked Drains

A clogged or blocked drain can be caused by many things but is one of the most common causes of sewage backups.

Drains can be clogged by everything from hair to food particles to grease and feminine hygiene products. Avoid flushing or putting down the sink larger items, or those that don’t degrade in water.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these common everyday items that shouldn’t go down the drain.

Old or Damaged Sewer Lines

If your home is older, there’s a good chance that your sewage lines are too, and as these lines age, they become more and more susceptible to damage.

Damaged lines naturally lend themselves to becoming blocked or otherwise clogged.

Tree Roots

Tree roots are a common culprit in sewage backups. They can grow into the sewer lines and damage them, leading to sewage backups.

Too Much Water Pressure from the Municipal Water Line

The municipal water line is the line that supplies your home with water from the city. In Pickering, this is controlled by the council for the Region of Durham.

If this line has too much pressure, it can cause the sewage lines to back up.

Hazards of Sewage Backups

A sewage backup can be a serious health hazard. The sewage contains many harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause illness.

Some of the other hazards associated with sewage backups include:

Mold and Mildew

Sewage backups can create the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow. This can cause respiratory problems and other health issues.


Sewage backups often contain flammable materials like gasoline and oil. If these come into contact with a spark, they can easily start a fire.

Structural & Property Damage

Sewage backups can cause extensive damage to your home. While sewage backups aren’t the most common culprit of basement flooding, they do still happen and can damage property. Ensure you take proper inventory of your stored items for any insurance claims.

Emergency Plumber Pickering

If you experience a sewage backup do not try to clean it up yourself. Contact an emergency plumber right away.

Caldwell Plumbing can help diagnose and take care of all your sewage backup and other plumbing needs. We can help diagnose the problem and take care of it quickly and efficiently.

We have the experience and knowledge to handle any sewage backup situation, big or small.

Our emergency plumbers in Pickering are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Give us a call or get in touch with us for your plumbing needs today.