Clogged Basement Drain Line


It’s one of every homeowner’s worst nightmares… water coming up from the basement drain. Most homeowners forget about the drain in their basement all together until there is a problem.  Here in Toronto, many of the homes were built decades ago and have issues with water entering their basement.  Many areas of Toronto also sit on high water tables which also make the water issues worse than many other areas.  When you walk down your basement stairs to find water in your basement (a little or a lot) you know there is a problem even if you don’t know exactly what it is.

When your basement drain is backing up it is the telltale sign that you have a clogged sewer line.

Clogs in Your Piping System

Clogs in secondary pipes will cause problems in isolated parts of your house. For example, if the clog is in the lines for your bathroom sink you might notice the sink not draining or the bathtub backing up when you run the water, but you can use water in the rest of your house without a problem. When the clog is in your main line any water that you use in the house is going to cause a problem. Your main line is the one that all water and waste existing your house is running through, so when it backs up in one place it is backing up to all the others.

Warning Signs

Obviously if you have water backing up your drains it becomes obvious that you have a problem, but depending on what is causing the clog in your line there might be warning signs you can watch for before you have a major problem on your hands.

  • Gurgling – Many times when a clog is building in your main sewer line you will be able to hear gurgling sounds coming from your toilets and/or sinks.
  • Odor – If your sewer line is becoming clogged you many notice a sewer odor coming from your drains.
  • Slow draining water – the start of a clog can cause the water to drain more slowly from your sinks tubs.

These are warning signs that you don’t want to ignore. If you notice these signs it is best to be proactive about the problem before you have a complete clog that is backing up into your home.

What is clogging my drain?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to know what is causing the clog in your sewer line, but here are some common culprits:

  • Tree Roots – This is the #1 reason that main sewer lines gets clogged. Trees need water to grow and it’s the job of the tree roots to find that water supply. Roots can expand up to seven times the height of the tree, so if your house is surrounded by mature trees you could have a potential problem on your hands. During drought conditions the roots of trees grow out searching for water and they just might find your sewer line. Each root has smaller hair-like roots growing off of it and they find their way into your pipes from small cracks in the joint. Eventually the roots completely clog the line causing a backup inside your home.  Roots can also wreck havoc on exterior weeping tile systems.
  • Blockage from items that were flushed – Clogs can be caused from anything that is flushed down your toilet that is too much for your sewer line to handle. Some of the main culprits of this are toys flushed by children, thick toilet paper, paper towels and feminine hygiene products.

How do I fix a clog in my sewer line?

  • If you have water backing up into your basement the first thing you are going to want to do is shut off the water. Any water that is being used is going to add to the problem.
  • The second thing you want to do quickly is get any standing water out of your basement and get everything clean and dry. The longer water (or other material that has backed up into you basement) stands in your basement the greater the risk of mold. You need to get everything dry and if you have a finished basement with carpet and drywall and you had standing water in your basement, chances are it is going to need to get tossed to prevent the spread and growth of mold.
  • Snake the basement drain – Use a snake/auger to try to unclog the line from your basement drain. If the problem is right in the pipe you may be able to clear the line from inside of your house. It is important to understand what type of auger you are using and to know what your pipes are made of. Using the wrong tools for the job can cause further damage to your pipes that will be costly to repair.
  • Locate the exterior cleanout – Most houses will have a cleanout located near the exterior of the house, it is typically a white pipe sticking up out of the ground with a cap on it. You can try to snake the main line from this location to break up the clog. If your clog is caused by tree roots a simple hand auger is not going to get the job done, you will want to use a mechanical auger.

WARNING: If you are able to clear a clog from invasive tree roots with a mechanical auger you may have taken care of your immediate problem, but the roots will grow back. If tree roots are the cause of your problem there are options to kill them with chemicals or in some cases it is best to use a camera to determine the location of the problem, dig out the roots, and replace the section of pipe.

Call a qualified basement water specialist – Some problems are better left to the professionals. If you have tried the simple steps above to clear your line and have not been able to resolve the issue it is best to call a professional. Nusite Waterproofing has been repairing basement drain problems in Toronto for over 30 years.  Our licensed and professional waterproofing experts can provide a free in-home inspection and estimate.  Contact us today to learn more.

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Waterproofing & Foundation Specialists at Nusite Contractors Ltd
As a family-owned waterproofing and foundation repair business with over 30 years of experience in Toronto, we are proud of our work and stand by it with a full warranty. We’re a service company, working for you. We make sure our customers understand the entire building and repair process, and ensure that our work is done properly and made to last.