Blocked or Backed-Up Basement Drain
Sewer pipes are owned by you and the City.
- The part that the City owns runs from the sewermain on the street to the property line.
- The part that you own runs from the property line into the home.
How to manage a blocked or backed-up drain can depend on where the issue is located. Get tips below.
If You are a Tenant
Please report this to your landlord or superintendent.
If Only One Fixture (tap, toilet, etc.) is Not Draining
This indicates a private plumbing issue. You may wish to contact a plumber.
If You Own the Property & All Pipes are Blocked
You can submit a service request online or call 311 to have Toronto Water investigate.
Your request will be investigated by Toronto Water staff within four hours*. Please note that someone must be home in order for staff to access the property.
*During periods of extreme weather, which can result in high call volumes, it may take longer for staff to visit your home. Please contact 311 for the most up-to-date information.
Toronto Water staff will first investigate the sewers near your home to ensure they are draining properly. If they are not, staff will initiate an emergency work order to complete repairs and will notify you of the repair schedule.
If the sewers are draining properly, Toronto Water staff will inspect the sewer drain connected to your home.
All properties should have a clean out that can be used to access the sewer pipe. Clean outs are located on private property in the basement or outside the home.
If there is no clean out, you will be instructed to contact a plumber to have one installed and to contact the City following installation should the issue persist.
If a clean out exists, staff will use it to attempt to clear the blockage. If this does not work, the City may need to insert a camera (CCTV) to determine the cause of the issue.
- If the issue is found to be on the private portion of the sewer service pipe, the property owner is responsible for conducting repairs.
- If the issue is found to be on the City’s side of the pipe, the City will conduct repairs.
- To ensure safety, this may involve contacting Enbridge to determine the location of any underground gas pipes.
- Staff may need to excavate, snake or conduct further CCTV inspection.
- Staff will discuss the process and repair timelines with the homeowner.
Why Sewer Back-Ups Can Occur
Blockages are clogs in the pipe and are typically caused by items that are incorrectly flushed down the drain. The most common offenders are:
- Fat, oil and cooking grease, which cool, harden and stick to the inside of pipes.
- Wipes of any kind – even those that say “flushable” do not break down.
- Condoms, sanitary supplies, dental floss and other personal hygiene products.
Get more details on what not to flush or pour down your drains and how to dispose of these items.
Roots from nearby trees can grow into the sewer pipe and cause holes and blockages.
Broken or cracked sewer pipes
Sewer pipes can break down and crack over time, especially those built in older homes that may contain cast iron or clay pipes.
During periods of extreme rain, the sewers can sometimes become full, which can cause water to enter the home. Learn more about the different kinds of sewers and how to protect yourself against basement flooding.