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Are My Sewer Laterals Working Properly?

Sewer laterals, the pipes that connect a home's plumbing system to the municipal underground sewer system, should be regularly maintained.

Over time, the sanitary sewer lateral can get clogged with fats, oils, and grease (FOGS) or other debris, which can restrict flows and cause sewer backup. This may especially be a problem in older homes when the lateral has not been routinely maintained.

Sewer laterals are accessed through the clean-out port, which may be located either inside of the basement or outside of the home, close to where the lateral enters the home.

To find out how well your sanitary sewer lateral has been maintained, you should talk to a licensed plumber who can carry out a camera inspection of your lateral. A plumbing inspection will identify if it is contributing to your flood risk.

Some communities recommend that homeowners replace their sewer lateral every 30 years or so.
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Is Poor Grading Causing My Flooding?

The slope of your yard is very important to keep water away from your home and basement. You should:

- Check your lot to see if your yard slopes away from your home. Look everywhere, including under stairs and decks. The soil directly beside your foundation wall should be approximately 10 to 15 cm higher than the soil 1.5 meters away from the foundation.

- If you notice that the ground close to the foundation of your house has settled beside your foundation wall, fill it in with a solid, compactable soil – like clay – so that there is a constant slope away from the foundation.

- Talk to the department in your municipal government responsible for building inspections and stormwater drainage about swales (the grassy depressions that help direct water away from homes) and lot grading. Ask them where swales should be on your property, and where water from your lot should be directed.
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Do I Have Weeping Tile?

A weeping tile or foundation drain is an underground perforated pipe that runs along the bottom of a home’s foundation. Older Canadian homes (those built before the 1940s or 1950s) may not have foundation drains. If you find your home does not have a foundation drain and you experience serious infiltration flooding, you should consider having a foundation drain installed.

WHAT IS MY WEEPING TILE CONNECTED TO?
A weeping tile that is directly connected to your home’s sanitary sewer lateral, it increases the amount of water that enters the municipal sewer system during a heavy rainfall. Disconnecting your weeping tile from the sanitary or storm sewer can help reduce the chances that you and your neighbours will experience basement flooding. It can also reduce the risk of structural damage to your home.

DO I HAVE A SUMP PUMP?
When weeping tiles are disconnected from sewer laterals, a sump-pit and sump pump must be installed. The sump pump is used to pump water from the weeping tiles to the lot’s surface. In some unique cases, municipalities may recommend a sump pump to pump weeping tile water to the storm sewer system.

IS MY SUMP PUMP WORKING CORRECTLY?
Sump pumps get blocked and can fail if they are not routinely inspected and maintained. You can inspect the sump pump by pouring water into the sump pit, and seeing whether or not the pump starts automatically. Sump pumps are electric and stop working during a power failure. As such, you should use a back-up system to make sure the pump works when you need it. Talk to your plumber or electrician about options.