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Sewer Damage Cleanup: What Do You Do When Your Sewer/Septic Freezes

With the freezing temperatures as of late, the danger of frozen sewer or septic lines increases along with sewer damage cleanup.

With the freezing temperatures as of late, the danger of frozen sewer or septic lines increases along with sewer damage cleanup.

This winter’s polar vortex has engulfed most of Canada in its icy grasp, including here in Fort McMurray, where temperatures have dipped down to as low as -43°C.

While residents of Fort Mac and Wood Buffalo are used to minus double-digit temperatures in winter, sometimes the inner workings of our homes and offices suffer the consequences. If you’ve experienced such issues as frozen sewer or septic lines, our sewer damage cleanup and restoration crew at Proserve DKI is here to help. Here we offer some advice on what to do and how to prevent future problems.

What causes sewer lines to freeze?

Frozen lines can occur due to a number of reasons. This includes when:

  • Temperatures dip to -35°C or colder
  • Improper or faulty insulation around pipes
  • Water stops flowing due to blocked drains/pipes
  • Your home’s thermostat or heater stops working

What happens when my sewer/septic lines freeze?

When water freezes, it can cause your pipes to expand, causing a blockage in your sewage-septic system. This may lead to cracks or breaks in the system.

When your pipes freeze, water can either back up into your drainage system or even seep out into walls, ceilings, and under floors, causing the need for flood restoration and extensive water damage cleanup.

A frozen septic system is especially icky, as the frozen water can back up into your pipes, causing your toilets, sinks, bathtub, and drains to fill up with smelly, off-colour liquid. In addition, wastewater from a backed up septic system can seep into the ground, and in the worst-case scenario, contaminate ground drinking water sources.

How do you check for frozen sewer lines?

Signs that your sewer line may be frozen include:

  • Frost present on pipes
  • Water does not come out of faucets
  • Gurgling noise emitting from pipes
  • Foul smell emitting from drains
  • Water pooling in areas where it shouldn’t (including outside)

How can you prevent sewage lines from freezing?

There are a number of steps you can take to avoid damage from sewer-septic lines and pipes from freezing when the temperature gauge dips. They include:

  • Making sure your pipes are well insulated
  • Your water heater is in good working order
  • Turning on your faucets and allowing water to flow
  • Sealing off vents or any other areas to prevent cold air from entering your home
  • Removing snow around vents and water drainage areas
  • Heating crawl spaces
  • Unclogging gutters around sewer lines

What can you do if your sewer/septic freezes?

In case of a frozen sewer line, it is advised that you do not pour boiling hot water down your drain. Instead call a plumber right away. In the meantime, shut off all faucets and close off your water valves. You may also need a bucket to contain any wastewater that isn’t flowing freely due to the blockage.

If you experience any water damage from a backed-up sewage-septic system, it’s best to contact a water damage company to help with the sewage backup restoration and extraction. A water damage restoration company can also help with safely cleaning up mould in the house as well as any residual bacteria.

For more information, read our 5 Tips on How to Winterize Your Home.

Proserve DKI provides water and sewage damage restoration and cleanup to those working and living in the city of Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo region. Call our emergency line at 1-780-791-3663 for 24/7-365-day emergency relief.