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Why Is My Toilet Backing Up?

Is your toilet backing up? We’re truly sorry to hear it! A toilet backing up is one of the most unpleasant experiences one can deal with. The question you’re asking now is, why? What is the cause? After all, the first step to fixing a problem is knowing what’s causing it. POM Plumbing is here to help. Let’s start at the beginning.

What Is Backing Up?

If you’re not sure what a backed up toilet is, it’s when there is sewage coming up from your toilet or other drains in the house. That can mean you have sewage coming up from the tub drain, or even sinks as well. If you need help with a clogged toilet, that’s a different beast, and usually much easier to fix. Not sure how to tell the difference? A clogged toilet will only have recent waste in it. A backed up toilet can have old waste as well and will usually look muddy, as it contains waste that has already broken down.

Flooding the Pipes

The reason you’re dealing with a back up is actually because of something called backwater. The root cause of this is that there is a clog somewhere further down in the plumbing system. Because that clog is keeping things from moving along, every time someone flushes a toilet or takes a shower, the waste level rises. The additional water and waste ends up flooding the pipes. That’s where backwater comes in. The waste begins to move backwards, filling all of the pipes in the home’s plumbing system until it overflows into a tub, sink, or toilet – or out of them.

That clog causing the backwater can be as near as the intersection between the tub and toilet drain pipes. It could be where your home system dumps into the local system. It can even be as far as where the local system dumps into the city system. As long as there is a clog somewhere in the plumbing system, enough water added to it will begin to cause backwater.

Home or Local

So, the question is, how do you know if the problem is home or local? Without doing an extensive inspection of your home system, there are two easy ways to find out. The easiest is to call your local plumber. If the problem lies beyond your home, they’ve probably already received hundreds of calls from the other locals. If they haven’t, you can also check with your neighbors. If they’re having issues too, call back your local plumber and let them know there is likely a local blockage. This will allow them to get to work right away and minimize damage. Plus, early response can prevent disaster in all of your neighbor’s houses, as they can be notified.

Solving the Problem

The solution to backwater is actually quite simple. You need a backwater valve. Backwater valves are legally mandatory in many parts of Canada and are often necessary for insurance to cover backwater flood damages. However, even though many homes are built with them, there are many that are without. It could be from poor construction or because the house is old and never had one to begin with. If you don’t know that when buying, it’s best to have one installed right away.

A backwater valve prevents sewage from the local system from being able to enter your home system. It makes it a one-way exit for your own sewage and keeps all of your neighbors’ waste from reaching your toilet.

If the problem is just within your house, a backwater valve won’t help. However, POM Plumbing can. Clogs within your own plumbing can be equally disastrous if not handled quickly. So, give us a call and let us come out and rid your pipes of clogs.

What Is a Backwater Valve?

If you’re looking for the solution to your problem and keep seeing talk of backwater valves, you may be wondering what, exactly, they are. A backwater valve is what’s used to prevent sewage from the local sewage system from entering your home system. How does that work and why is it necessary? Let’s dig into the details.

How Does a Backwater Valve Work?

The first thing you may be wondering is how exactly a backwater valve works. It’s actually fairly simple. In laymen’s terms, it turns your sewage main into a one-way exit. The cover of the valve will only open one direction. That means any sewage that presses against it from the other side will only push it more firmly shut.

Why Is a Backwater Valve Necessary?

A backwater valve is a huge necessity when it comes to safety, hygiene, and keeping your home undamaged. Because backwater is full of other people’s waste, having it back up into your home is a huge hazard, especially if it overflows. Not only is it gross, a backup will introduce tons of foreign bacteria into your home. You also can’t rule out the presence of parasites and disease – both common presences in sewage systems. A backwater valve keeps all of this gross matter from gaining access to your home. We think that’s pretty important.

What Happens During a Local Backup?

Remember how we said that when your local sewage backs up, it closes the valve? Because of this, if your local area has a sewage backup, your own home may have its own. That’s because, while local sewage isn’t able to get in, your sewage also can’t get out. Fortunately, it would take you a while to fill your own pipes all the way up with sewage. Therefore, you only need to do a little bit of damage control, mostly regarding water usage.

As soon as you catch wind that there’s a local sewage clog, you’ll want to minimize water usage. This helps to ensure you don’t flood your own house while you’re waiting for the local sewage problem to be solved. As you can’t be positive how long it will take them to solve the problem, it’s best to be cautious.

  • Don’t take any showers or baths
  • Don’t run washing machines or dishwashers
  • If you don’t have a dishwasher, save washing by hand for later too, as it often uses up even more water than dishwashers
  • Keep sink use to the bare minimum by washing hands quickly and turning off the water while you lather with soap
  • Refrain from flushing the toilet unless you’ve pooped or there’s a few uses worth of toilet paper waiting to be flushed (we don’t need to add more clogs to the mix)

How Do I Install a Backwater Valve?

Backwater valve installation is quite intensive and can only really be done by a professional. It involved digging a trench and messing with some of the biggest pipes in your sewage system. Therefore, you don’t want to DIY this. Plus, it’s quite a dirty job. Fortunately, you can count on POM Waterproofing to serve you anywhere in Toronto. Give us a call if you’re interested in backwater valve installation and we’ll make it happen!