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Service Issues

To report a sewer backup or a missing manhole cover, call 902-432-1268.

If you suspect you have a sewer backup, first check the toilets, sinks, and waste pipes to clear any blockages and to ensure that the water is not due to an internal plumbing problem (roof vent blockages can cause gurgling).

If that does not solve the problem, the City will dispatch a team to clean the sewer main along your street at no charge to you. Please be patient. Your call will be responded to as soon as possible.

While waiting for help to arrive, do not use toilets or sinks because any water you send down the drain will likely end up in your basement. If you have a load of wash going, you can turn off your main water valve to the house.

Locate the building sewer clean-out caps for your home, but do not attempt to open them. They are usually in the basement floor near the front wall, close to the water meter. Make sure the clean-out caps are not blocked by furniture or other objects so that City staff can access them.

If the cleaning of the City Sewer Main does not solve your sewer backup problem, then you will have to hire a plumber and have them clean out your sewer lateral line, all the way from your house out to the City Sewer Main. 

The City offers sewer lateral video inspection services at a rate of $50/hour when performed during regular working hours. To schedule a sewer video inspection, please contact Municipal Services at 902-432-1268. Please note that video inspection will only be effective if you have recently had a plumber clean your sewer lateral. 

City bylaw requires each and every sewer line to have a backwater valve (sometimes called a check valve or a back flow preventer). If you are not sure if you have a backwater valve or if your backwater valve is working properly, please hire a qualified plumber to inspect your piping system for you. 

Assessing Risks from Sewer Backup 

Bacteria or Viruses

Immediately add small amounts of chlorine bleach to standing water. Remove standing water with pumps or pails, then with a wet/dry shop vacuum. Water contaminated with sewage may contain a number of bacteria and viruses, which can affect health. The major health concern is related to organisms that affect the gastrointestinal tract causing vomiting and diarrhea (gastroenteritis) and those that affect the liver (Hepatitis A, yellow jaundice). You can contract these illnesses by consuming contaminated food or water or by putting contaminated hands or articles into your mouth. These bacteria and viruses are not transmitted through the air. Skin irritation or infection can also occur from contact with contaminated water, particularly if open cuts or sores are present

It is NOT safe to enter your basement if the water level has reached any plug, electrical outlet, extension cord or baseboard heater. If the water has not yet reached any plug, electrical outlet, or baseboard heater and your distribution panel and main switch are still above water, you may be able to shut off the power yourself.

Wear rubber boots when walking on a wet surface. If you plan to shut off the electricity at the main switch, first make sure the surface you are standing on is dry and that you are not touching metal (pipes, ladder, etc.). Since dry wood is not a good electrical conductor, stand on a wooden stool or chair, and then shut off the main switch using a dry wooden stick such as a broom handle. If this is not possible, or if the water has reached the panel or main switch, do not touch anything. Call an electrical contractor licensed to work in PEI. Summerside Electric 902-432-1268 can shut off the power at an outside meter, hydro pole, or transformer.

Before turning the power back on after the water subsides, call an electrical contractor to check your installation and confirm that there is no risk of electrocution or fire if the power is restored. If the main switch was flooded or if the service was cut off at the meter or the pole,

Summerside Electric will reconnect the power after it has been inspected and approved.

Documentation

Take photos and videos of damage and contact your insurance agent.

Clean-up

Never mix ammonia and bleach.

What to keep or discard

Subject to confirmation with your insurance company's evaluation, the following may have to be discarded if they have been in contact with wastewater:

  • All insulation materials, and all less expensive articles that have been soaked, including particleboard furniture, mattresses, box springs, stuffed toys, and pillows
  • Furniture coverings, padding, and cushions—the frames of good quality wood furniture can sometimes be salvaged, but must be cleaned, disinfected, rinsed, and dried by ventilation away from direct sunlight or heat
  • Scrape heavy dirt from washable clothes, rinse, and wash several times in cold water treated with chlorine bleach, and dry quickly
  • Separate valuable papers—you may wish to ask a lawyer whether to save the papers themselves or just the information on them

Recommended procedures for cleaning

  • If you can, shut off the electrical power
  • Stay clear of electrical equipment and do not attempt to change any fuses if you are standing in water or on damp ground
  • Wear protective clothing: overalls, gloves, protective eyeglasses, rubber boots, and a face mask
  • Open windows to allow fresh air in
  • Remove standing water with pumps or pails, then with a wet/dry shop vacuum
  • Immediately add small amounts of chlorine bleach to standing water
  • Dehumidify the house until it is completely dry
  • Ventilate and ensure that there is adequate airflow to remove any fumes
  • Wash and wipe down all surfaces and structures with chlorine bleach, ensuring that there is adequate cross ventilation to remove fumes (then rinse again)
  • Disinfect the walls and the floor using a chlorine bleach and water solution (wait for the area to dry completely before re-using it)
  • Wipe down surfaces that have not been directly affected with a solution of one part chlorine bleach to four parts cold or tepid (not hot) water, mixed with a small amount of non-ammonia dishwashing detergent (chlorine bleach and ammonia, when mixed together, produce toxic fumes) (then rinse)
  • Hose down any dirt sticking to walls and furnishings then rinse several times, removing the remaining water with a wet/dry shop vacuum
  • Work from the top down—break out all ceilings and walls that have been soaked or that have absorbed water; remove wall materials at least 50 cm above the high-water lines
  • Rinse then clean all floors as quickly as possible (replace flooring that has been deeply penetrated by floodwater or sewage)
  • Carpets must be dried within two days; Sewage-soaked carpets must be discarded (Homeowners can't effectively dry large areas of soaked carpets themselves—qualified professionals are required)
  • Clean and deodorize carpets or have them professionally cleaned
  • Clean all interior cavities with a solution of water, chlorine bleach, and non-ammonia dish detergent and dry thoroughly, checking often for mould and killing it with chlorine bleach
  • Ensure that structural members are dry (which could take weeks) before closing cavities in walls, crawl spaces, etc.
  • Remove all soaked and dirty materials and debris including wet insulation and drywall, residual mud and soil, furniture, appliances, clothing, and bedding
  • Scrub affected furniture with antibacterial soap and water and place outside to dry (weather permitting) or steam clean
  • Machine wash contaminated clothes in hot water and soap, adding one cup of chlorine bleach to the wash water
  • Throw out canned goods, herbs, vegetables, and any other foods that may have been affected by floodwaters
  • If your freezer has lost power, move frozen food to a neighbour's freezer, or throw it out if you cannot keep it frozen
  • Articles such as stuffed toys and paper goods contaminated by floodwaters should be discarded because they cannot be properly sanitized (Items of particular value that show no visible contamination pose a minimal risk once they are completely dry—minor debris can be left out for regular garbage pickup)

Before moving back in

If appliances, electrical outlets, switch boxes, or fuse/breaker panels have been flooded, do not energize or return to service until they have been inspected by a licensed electrical contractor.

If they have been soaked, replace the furnace blower motor, switches and controls, insulation, and filters. Inspect all flooded forced air heating ducts and return duct pans and have them cleaned out or replaced. Replace insulation inside water heaters, refrigerators, and freezers if it has been wet. Flush and disinfect floor drains and sump pits using diluted chlorine bleach, and scrub them to remove greasy dirt and grime.

For more information, contact:

Owen MacDonald
Operations Supervisor
owen.macdonald@city.summerside.pe.ca 
902-432-1263
City of Summerside, 275 Fitzroy Street, Summerside, PE C1N 1H9

Related City Documents:

Water and Sewer Regulations 

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