What you need to know about sewer backup

Published On: April 26th, 2021Categories: Personal Insurance, Risk Management

Did you know that water damage is the leading cause of home insurance claims in Canada? One of the most frequent causes of water damage is a sewer backup

Sewer backup issues happen when water begins to flow in the wrong direction, back up into your home. Sewer backup is not only a dangerous health hazard; it’s also an expensive and sizeable clean-up.

The main idea of what happens during a sewer backup is something blocking the normal flow of wastewater from your home to the city’s sanitary sewer, causing sewage to start backing up into your home. This backup is caused by several things, including aging sewer systems, sewer lines in need of repair, an excess of rainwater or melted snow entering the sewer system all at once, tree roots entering the sewer lines, and a plethora of other reasons that are entirely out of one’s control! 

There are, however, ways you can take control to help prevent this from happening in your home. The following are tips to keep in mind when attempting to protect yourself from sewer backup:

  • Only flush human waste and toilet paper – keep things like diapers, wipes, paper towel, and personal hygiene products in the garbage (even if they are labeled as being “flushable”)
  • Throw grease and coffee grinds in the garbage instead of pouring down the drain (there are many creative disposal methods for used coffee grinds)
  • If possible in your home, install a backwater valve – a product that reduces the likelihood of sewage flowing into your basement when the main system begins to back up. This product will allow water to flow out of your house from sinks, bathtubs, and toilets, but as soon as water begins to flow backward, the backwater valve apparatus closes and stops the flow of water from going into your home. (Not every home is suitable for a backwater valve, but it is worth it to have a professional conduct an inspection and determine if your home qualifies.)

  There are signs to look out for in your own home to determine whether sewage backup is becoming a problem, including:

  • Seepage at your basement floor drains
  • A foul smell coming from any of your drains
  • Toilets aren’t flushing as they should be and plunging them doesn’t help
  • Multiple drains in your house are clogged
  • When you use one piece of plumbing and water backs up elsewhere
  • Bubbling occurring after flushing the toilet or when the sink is trying to drain (only if this occurs more than once)

If you notice sewage flowing back up into any drain in your home, it is very likely a sewer backup is already fully underway. In this case, the best course of action to take is to stop using all water, turn off your home’s main water supply and contact a plumber.

Depending on where you live, your city’s municipal government may want to send an inspector to determine whether the problem is the city’s main sewer line or your home’s plumbing system. Therefore, please check on your municipal government’s website to learn more before calling a plumber to your home.

When it comes to home insurance, most policies do not usually cover sewer backups. However, most insurance companies offer sewer backup coverage as an add-on at a reasonably low cost. Give us a call at Bryson today to talk to your broker and see if you qualify! 

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Written by:

Kyle Paterson
Kyle believes that insurance is a tool, when powerfully leveraged best ensures the vision of business leaders and families are realized. Kyle focuses on cyber risk transfer, group benefits, and corporate and individual life insurance solutions.


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