Case Studies: 4 Frequent Plumbing Scenarios

Some plumbing problems are rare, and take an experienced plumber (like Mister Plumber, of course!) to sleuth their way to the solution. Other problems are so common that every homeowner or tenant has seen them before – your leaky faucets, overflowing toilet or slow-draining sink – and that an emergency plumber could probably handle with their eyes closed.

But then there are some big plumbing issues that are neither as frequent as a drippy faucet nor as uncommon as an overheated sump pump – but we here at Mister Plumber see them often enough that we want to discuss them.

One of the things that make Toronto a truly special city to live in is its rich history, with houses ranging from over 200 years old to a day old, and everything in between. But the history that makes it special also makes its houses unpredictable and susceptible to various plumbing issues. Homes built at different periods will have different types of plumbing, some of which are out-of-date and/or harmful.

In general, older plumbing creates some problems for homeowners. Even if it doesn’t leak, it might cause slow drainage, a bad sewer smell, low water pressure, frequent clogs, leaching lead, etc. Different types of pipes have their own advantages and disadvantages, and in this article, we wanted to detail a few different case studies, each of the jobs we’ve worked recently and each of them surrounding a different type of pipe, trap or coupling.

Cast Iron Pipes

Everyone likes cast iron – especially for their pans, which can cook a steak better than just about anything. And it’s this sturdiness that made cast iron so popular among plumbers from the 17th Century all the way to the mid-20th Century.  Cast iron pipes were used as main soil stacks in residential houses. Cast iron makes a pretty strong pipe, one that has a lot of longevity, and (this was especially important for the modest sensibilities of olden day homeowners) remains quiet when water flows inside.

In the picture above, you can see an original cast iron drainpipe, which is 90 years old. For a couple of months prior to calling our plumbing services in Toronto, the homeowner reported multiple instances of blockage in it. Our licensed plumbers conducted an investigation that showed that the inside diameter of the pipe had been reduced to 2.5” because of severe corrosion build-up. This is smaller than the minimum size (3”) required for a toilet. Also, the surface of the inner pipe wall was rough, which easily catches all paper.

We gave our recommendations to the homeowner to replace the pipe with ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), a long-lasting plastic that won’t corrode, rust or block. It’s a newer type of pipe material, and one that you will find used by modern plumbers looking to get their customers the most value. It is a one-time investment compared to multiple services to remove toilet, snake the drain and reinstall the toilet.

S-Trap

The other picture, which you can see just below this section, shows the old drain assembly for a laundry sink. The homeowner called us and complained about slow drainage and a bad smell coming from the sink. In addition to the old pipes and fittings we found, there are some code violations in this plumbing.

First of all, there is what’s called an S-trap (the thing that looks like a sideways “S” in the photo), which is prohibited by Ontario plumbing codes. When water flows down an S-trap, it creates negative pressure behind it and sucks all the water from trap. If there is no water in the trap, a bad sewage smell can easily invade the living space.

In this situation, we immediately remove your old building trap and replace the S-trap with the superior P-trap, which, if installed properly and not left to dry up, works wonders.

Cracked Concrete

Another issue occurs where an above-ground pipe (downpipe) is connected to an underground clay pipe at floor level – the concrete is susceptible to cracks. Recently, we arrived at a customer’s house to find this very problem.

Nowadays, plumbers use rubber couplings to connect different sizes and types of pipes. These couplings provide an air- and water-tight seal that makes it difficult for foul odours to penetrate your home. Another mistake that can be made in this plumbing is a wrong fitting at the connection between two compartments – a sharp change of direction from the left compartment. It’s something that other plumbers might not spot, but Mister Plumber’s experienced team knows to look at small details like that.

We’re always looking out for the wellbeing of your family and your home. Call us about pipe inspection, trap replacement, sump pump installation in Toronto – you name it, we’ll take care of it.

Lead Pipes

Then, there are lead pipes. We’ve discussed lead pipes a number of times on this blog, but it’s because they are still so pervasive and harmful. Old lead pipes, a prominent feature of older homes, can corrode over time and leach harmful lead into your drinking water, which can have profoundly negative health effects. We just recently replaced yet another system of lead pipes for a homeowner.

If you live in an old home or suspect that you might have lead pipes, call Mister Plumber immediately. We’ll inspect your pipes and, if they are lead, replace them with copper pipes, which are not susceptible to corrosion and therefore will not leach anything harmful. It’s a big issue in Toronto: of the approximately 437,000 residences in the City of Toronto, an estimated 31,250 have lead water pipes.

These are just four case studies, but they each illustrate the need to keep your plumbing up-to-date. Materials that plumbers used in the past may have eroded or corroded over time, or may not have been safe in the first place. To avoid the above-mentioned problems, we recommend you consider upgrading your old plumbing. Call Mister Plumber today to help make your home as safe, clean, fresh and functional as possible.