Sewers and Sewer Laterals
What is a sanitary sewer?
A sanitary sewer is a system of pipes normally located in the street or in public easement that are solely designed to transport sewage to a treatment plant.
What is a sewer lateral?
The sewer line that carries wastewater from the sanitary fixtures and floor drains inside your home or business to the City's sewer mains is called a sewer lateral. The property owner owns and is responsible for maintaining the sewer lateral from inside the building to the point where it connects with the City Street Main.
5 key points to remember:
1. The property owner owns the entire sewer lateral from inside the building to the point where it connects to the City Street Main (as depicted in the sketch to the right).
2. The property owner is responsible at their own cost, for all maintenance associated with their sewer lateral. We strongly recommend regular maintenance to ensure a well functioning sewer. Suggestions for upkeep include the removal of grease, the flushing of slow running pipe and removal or cutting of tree roots that may infiltrate the sewer lateral.
3. Should a blockage occur in the sewer lateral, the property owner is encouraged to call a plumber or pipe cleaning company to remove the blockage. The City has a flexible sewer rod, which can be borrowed but is at the owner's risk.
4. When a problem is suspected in the sewer lateral under the boulevard or road (City Right-of-Way), the property owner must provide at their cost, a video inspection of their sewer lateral to help identify the problem. The property owner will also be required to locate their lateral to help the City determine the location of the problem. There are many plumbers and pipe cleaning companies which can provide the homeowner with those services. The City will not reimburse the property owner for the costs associated with conducting a video inspection or locating their sewer lateral.
5. If it is found by the property owner and verified by the City, that a blockage in the property owner's sewer lateral is due to a collapsed or broken pipe under the City's Right-of-Way, the City will schedule and make repairs as soon as possible. The property owner is still responsible to maintain the sewer until the repairs can be made. Should the problem be within the section of the lateral that is located on the homeowner's property, the owner is responsible to address the problem at their cost.
What causes sewer backups?
Occasionally the mainline sewer or the sewer lateral becomes blocked and the sewage is unable to flow; the blockage causes the sewage flow to "backup" or "overflow" to the first upstream outlet, which is most commonly a city manhole, but sometimes may be a low elevation fixture (such as a bathtub drain) in a private address.
The most common causes of backups include:
What if my sewer backs up or I see a suspected sewer overflow in the street?
Call the Municipal Works Division at 613-932-5354 and ask for the Sewer Section as soon as you begin to experience a backup or observe an overflow from a sewer manhole into the street. Municipal Works crews will first check the City's sewer main to verify that the pipe is open and sewage is flowing.
If the sewer main is found to be clear, the property owner is encouraged to call a plumber or pipe cleaning company to remove the blockage. Alternatively, the City has a flexible sewer rod which the property owner may use at their own risk to remove the blockage. When a problem is suspected concerning the
portion of the private sewer lateral, the owner is required to provide at their cost, a video inspection of their sewer lateral in order to identify the problem.
The owner must also provide the location of the lateral to assist the city in determining the location of the problem section. You can find many pipe cleaning companies and plumbers to assist with these services.
How can I prevent backups in my sewer lateral?
Regular maintenance is strongly recommended in order to maintain a properly functioning sewer. Here are a few tips on your sewer lateral maintenance:
For more information, please call Municipal Works Division at 613-932-5354 and ask for the Sewer Section.