Why is my Sewer Line Clogged?

Trenchless sewer line replacement Ottawa

Determine if Main Sewer Lines are Clogged

Drain lines run throughout the home to transport wastewater from sinks, tubs, toilets and other plumbing fixtures. Each one of these lines connects to the home’s main sewer line. The main sewer line is a large pipe that transports waste from the home to the septic or sewer system. This pipe can become clogged which can lead to the lines backing up.

Unfortunately, a main sewer line clog isn’t something that can typically be fixed by the homeowner. The lines are generally found deep below the earth’s surface, however there are some measures you can take to make sure things don’t get worse before the plumber arrives.

Cause of Clogged Sewer Lines

A clog of this magnitude doesn’t happen often as a typical sewer line measures from 4 to 6 inches wide. A damaged sewer line is typically the reason for the clog. If the pipe bends or collapses, waste will not be able to flow through the pipe into the sewer system.

Shifting soil, pipe corrosion, construction too close to the line, significant traffic, and damage to the joints are all standard issues found in sewer lines. In fact, older pipes have a tendency to sag over time which results in debris building up and an eventual clog. Household fats, oils, and grease poured down the drain are often the catalyst for these blockages.

Signs of a Clogged Sewer

Clogged sewers generally develop over time rather than overnight. If the clog can be caught before things get too bad you can prevent significant headaches in the future. The following signs are things to look out for if you suspect you may have a clog developing in your sewer line.

Dark water: a classic sign of a clogged sewer line is wastewater emerging from the shower, bathtubs, and basement drain. This is because if water draining from our pipes reaches a clog and can no longer flow into the sewer system, it’ll return into the home through the lowest entry point.

Slow moving drain: because clogs typically develop gradually, water will drain slower and slower as the clog gets worse. If only one drain isn’t functioning properly, it’s probably not a main sewer line concern, but if all drains are slow, this could likely be the cause.

Gurgling noises: a common sound associated with a sewer line clog is gurgling coming from a tap or plumbing fixture. But people have also reported trickling, bubbling, and even hissing noises.  

Clogged plumbing fixtures: if the sewer drain clog is left unaddressed for a long period of time, you’ll start to notice that wastewater will stop draining from your plumbing fixtures entirely. This is because all of our pipes are connected and the clog will cause water to back up more and more over time.

Sewer pipe repair Ottawa

What to Do if Your Sewer is Clogged

If you think your drainage pipe is clogged, turn off the water supply to your home. This will ensure things don’t get any worse. To turn off the water, locate the water main, this is typically found near the home’s water meter.

Next, call a plumber. Summit Drain has a team of dedicated professionals who can identify the clog and remove it in order to get your sewer lines back to functioning the way you need them to.

Contact Us 

Summit Drain is a reliable plumbing company in the Ottawa area. Our team has provided over 10 years of premium-quality plumbing repairs and services to homeowners and business owners in the area. We service many areas near the Ottawa region including Nepean, Kanata, Gloucester, Carp, Rockcliffe Park, Vanier, Cumberland, Barrhaven, Orleans, Stittsville, Bells Corners, Manotick, Greely and more. 

Call us today to learn more about our sewer line replacement services!


A main sewer line blockage can cause water to backup in random places. For instance, you run your washing machine and notice your sink overflowing – this can be a clear sign that you have a clogged drain line.

If you have ruled out a potential sewer drain clog, you can rinse your sewer drain by flushing it with water. When you flush your lines, try adding a bit of drain cleaner to the water. A great place to flush your sewer line is the toilet – a larger amount of water and drain cleaner can enter your system quickly and easily. Unfortunately, if you do this when you have a clog, it can cause backup and potential flooding – if this is the case, clear the clog first.

You should generally know if your sewer line is blocked with slow drainage. The purpose of the sewer line is to take all the water drainage away from your house via sinks, bathtubs or toilets – if you find that there is slower drainage in one drain then you can essentially clear that yourself using a drain snake or a plunger.

There is confusion regarding when you are responsible for sewer line repair. While some may believe that the homeowner is only responsible for repairing the part of the line that’s on their property, this is not the case. Sewer lines consist of multiple sections, the upper lateral, lower lateral and the main line. The city is only responsible for repairing the main sewer line.

If issues with the main sewer line cause damage to your lower lateral, which is most likely where the damage would generally first start – the city would repair this damage when they work on the main sewer line. Unfortunately, if there is backup and flooding on your property from the main sewer line, then the city would not be responsible. It is best to follow up with the city to see if they will repair any damage in these cases.

Unpleasant smells coming from your drains is indicative of sewer line issues and damage. You should always take these types of smells seriously as it could be toxic fumes slowly releasing from the sewer below into your home.

There are a number of ways to clear a slow drain using products found around the home:

Bent Wire – If you do not have a drain snake, you can try using a stiff wire – like one from a clothes hanger, leaving the hook to enter pipes and pull out any clogs. Try to make sure you don’t push debris further into the pipe.

Homemade Flush – Mixing baking soda and vinegar can dissolve any materials that are potentially clogging your drain pipes. This is a good and much safer alternative to store-bought chemical cleaners.

Toilet Plunger – Like plunging a toilet, you can try using this on your drains. Using a plunger on your drains can help get things moving by using suction. This should be enough to fix any mild blockages.

Aged drain pipes are at risk for corrosion which can lead to breaks. Summit Drain has both the technology and expertise to fix this if necessary.

Yes. Drain pipes are durable, but not meant to last forever. If you live in an older home in Ottawa, most likely the pipes are made from copper and can collapse in this day and age.

When it comes to a collapsed drain, call Summit Drain. We use trenchless technology to replace sewer pipes made from original materials without ruining your property.

Rock salt
Rock salt helps by removing moisture from the roots, which in turn kills them. Two lbs should do the trick, pour 1 down the toilet. Flush until gone. And repeat with the next. Then leave for 12 hours and don’t run any water.

Foaming root killers
Another effective way to treat roots in pipes is with foaming root killers. Pour powder into toilet and flush. It will foam upon contact with water. Not only does it help dissolve current roots, but also helps to protect against future ones.

Copper sulfate
Copper sulfate is another good option. Available at most hardware stores, pour roughly half a cup into toilet and flush until gone. Leave the home and take all pets and family members along. This is a toxic substance and banned in some places.

Should I replace old pipes?
There does come a time where it makes sense to replace your pipes. Over time they crack and corrode. It is recommended to begin routine inspections once your home reaches 50 years in age. For plumbing Services in and around the Ottawa area, nobody does it like Summit Drain.

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