Drain Cleaning

If you’re a homeowner, right now drain cleaning for your storm sewer is probably the furthest thing from your mind.  In fact, you’re probably really enjoying your garden right now.  Maybe you’ve spent a weekend raking out the winter and it’s looking pretty fresh.


Now take a moment to consider what’s going on beneath the surface.  Some of the debris you just raked out from under the foundation plantings – just like what’s in your gutters – has likely also found it’s way into your storm sewer.  While that’s not a big deal right now when the weather is mostly great, it will be a huge deal in six months.  Let’s flash forward to the fall, when the leaves drop again, and the plant roots have spent a luxurious summer season finding standing water in there and filling out that moist space that may already be filled with some high-grade composting material from the previous winter… yes you get the picture.  Your storm sewer is quietly filling up.


If you have a property like that, you may require some annual maintenance, or if you’ve had problems in the past (unlike mutual funds) it’s a good indicator of the future performance!  In that case, yearly inspection and drain cleaning is advised.

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Enter Drain Cleaning

If you think you need drain cleaning, don’t wait until it rains!  The best thing is to get out in front of it on a dry day with a camera.  Why dry?  The camera will tell us what’s in there, but only if we can see it.

Is Drain Cleaning DIY?

While DIY drain cleaning is not always possible due to the equipment required, there are several things that homeowners can do to reduce the frequency and even the cost.

  • Keep drain grates clear so debris doesn’t wash down into pipes.
  • Know where your clean-outs are. Clean-outs are access points that can be opened to allow for an auger or other machine to clear the lines.  They are usually white (although they can be other colours) and have a large square nut on a plastic cap.
  • Sewer clean outs are often inside the home. They can be located under sinks, in cupboards, in basements, in walls, closets in various sizes depending on their use.
  • The ones for your storm sewer when present will usually be located outside.    An informed homeowner can save time and money by directing technicians the clean-outs.
  • Avoid or even consider moving plantings with deep roots that are over the drain lines.

When you need R&B:  

While drain cleaning is a fairly non-technical task, a little knowhow and experience will make the job go faster.  Also good to know, this is a two person job!  Drain cleaning equipment usually consists of:

  • Large sectional auger that can extend up to 200 feet; it has different end fittings for root grinding or debris clearing.
  • Video diagnostic camera, that can show us what the issues are,
  • A line locator to pinpoint the location of something like a collapsed pipe
  • Water Jetter machine, which is similar in theory to a domestic pressure washer but has significantly more pressure and hose length from 100-200 feet.

How Often do I need to get Drain Cleaning done?  

How often can sometimes be hard to determine. In general, the fewer of those factors (trees/ roots/ ground instability / age) are in place, the less often drain cleaning is needed.  Properties that need it less or even infrequently will likely have landscaping that does not produce roots to any significant depth.   You may only want to camera those drains on an as needed basis, or when there is cause for concern.  One thing I would recommend is to err on the side of caution.  It’s stunning how far and long roots grow in a drain – well beyond the canopy of the tree!  Remember that even if your lot is all gravel, your neighbour or the city may have trees with roots that may encroach on your drainage.


In a perfect world drain cleaning would never be needed.  A properly installed drainage system with no pipe sagging or collapse, no roots, or foreign debris would theoretically never need to be cleaned.  Unfortunately given our lush park like city, most people will have to consider this maintenance at some point in their home ownership.

Tip: You may wonder when you see water backing up into the house where it’s coming from.  If the water is coming from a basement sump, or from a shower basin, it’s likely the main sewer line.  If the water is coming from the foundation or standing in the yard, it’s more likely a storm sewer blockage.


Lastly and perhaps most importantly, don’t wait. If you suspect your drain is slow or backing up, call us.


Before you make that leap though, chat with us about your options for grants and most importantly, options for heating.  We’ll help you figure out if it’s the best choice for your home.

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