Your basement can be flooded from a variety of different sources: it can be the sanitary drain, the storm drain, your weeping tiles, or it can be a faulty sump pump, a burst water pipe… The list goes on. Wherever the source and whatever the cause, however, the end result is pretty much the same – damage to your house, your appliances, your possessions and your precious memories.

It is no surprise, then, that a frequent query we hear from homeowners is, ‘how can I protect my house against flooding. Late winter in the GTA, when that mountain of snow starts to melt, and freezing rain begins to pour, is when a lot of homeowners start to take stock of their plumbing.

Honestly, the very best way you can avoid basement flooding – simply from a homeowner’s perspective – is to bring in an expert plumber in Toronto you can rely on to implement preventative measures. It sounds like the obvious answer, but you would be surprised how many homeowners neglect to think about basement flooding until it’s too late.

On one level, it’s understandable: why throw money at an issue you aren’t sure will happen? But on a risk analysis level, it’s better to put up the (comparatively) little amount of money to proactively prevent the issue, than the large sum it might take to repair the damage, should an emergency occur.  

As mentioned, there are numerous reasons for a flooded basement. For our purposes however, in this post we’ll be looking at the sanitary drain, which is a topic that rears its head for a lot of homeowners, because it is complex system that involves both private responsibilities and city responsibilities. A leading cause of flooding in homes, it pays for homeowners to be well informed on matters concerning their sanitary drain and sewer.

There is one measure in particular that Toronto homeowners can look into if they want to reduce the risk of basement flooding: backwater valve installation services for your drain. In this post, we’ll discuss your sanitary drain and sewer, detailing both the private and city portions of it, and then talk about why a backwater valve is an effective first line of defense.

emergency plumber toronto

Private vs. City Sanitary Drains

Let’s talk about your sanitary drain and sewer, and all the little nuances and unique difficulties that come with the territory. Because the private side of the pipe is located underground, it must be checked by a special scope or sewer camera, approximately every one or two years. Cameras can detect broken spots, shifts, root penetration, cracks, depressions… any major problems that have to be resolved in order for it to function properly.

But even if your private drains and sewers are in satisfactory condition, your basement can still be flooded if a problem occurs with the city municipal main drain on your street.

The issues on the private side that cause sewage backup are within a homeowner’s control; you can just stop using plumbing fixtures and call for plumbers’ help. On the other hand, an issue on the city side is beyond a homeowner’s control. You can’t run out into the street asking every neighbour to stop using his or her toilets – it is impossible. In this case, you have to call 311, and a city crew (that is available 24/7) can come to fix the pipes.

So there’s the solution to a problem with the city side, but can you ever effectively prevent an issue from the city side? As we’ll learn in just a moment, yes you can.

Backwater Valves to the Rescue

The only one device that can be installed in a building drain to prevent backup from the city side is a backwater valve. If you’re unfamiliar with how a backwater valve works, it’s actually pretty easy to understand. The valve itself has a normally open gate that activates and closes in case of back flow, meaning that water won’t have a chance to back up… usually.

Some people think if they’ve install backwater valve, they will never have problems with the sewer, but that is simply not true. The pipes within your private side have to be in good working condition too, as does the valve itself. We can maintain or fix your backwater valve as well as your pipes, to ensure everything works in top shape. In the picture below, you can see a backwater valve that was installed near the front foundation wall to protect ALL of the plumbing fixtures in the basement.

emergency plumber toronto

After a restoration of the floor, access lids were installed for maintenance. The lids can easily be removed for routine cleaning, and any inspections that the valve may need can be swiftly performed. This is a recommended addition for all homeowners serious about avoiding flooding. You know you can call us for backwater valve help anytime but you still might wonder about the cost of such an installation. Well, there’s good news there.

Torontonians are lucky to have a subsidy program for backwater valve installation with a maximum rebate of $1250. Such work has to be done with a building permit and an authorized plumbing contractor, as Mister Plumber is. Here is the official City of Toronto page that details the program, and can explain how to apply. You might as well save some money while you protect your home, right?

And when you choose an authorized plumbing contractor, go with us. Mister Plumber has a lot of years of experience in the installation of flood protection devices. Call us anytime to get the best professional plumbing and drain services in the GTA.

Remember, though, that the sanitary drain is only one of many sources of flooding in the GTA. In our next post, we will discuss how to protect your basement from other sources of flooding, so stay tuned to this blog for more helpful homeowner information. And, when your plumbing is in doubt, remember to call in the experts – 24 hours a day, we’re on call to help the GTA.

There are a lot of perks about living in Toronto: the thriving, busy city centre, the abundance of entertainment and cultural activities, and the surrounding nature, to name just a few. But being a homeowner in Toronto can sometimes be a headache. Not only is the market hard to get into, but often the houses that are available don’t have the finest plumbing. In fact, there are many houses in Toronto that still have their original drain and plumbing.

Why is that so bad, you might ask? Well, back when a lot of these houses were being made, other materials were used for pipes and fittings, materials that we have since discovered do not age so gracefully. As examples, underground building drains and sewers were made of vitrified clay, above ground drains were either cast iron or lead, and water lines were either galvanized steel or lead. Each of these is problematic by today’s standards, and can cause big plumbing problems for your home.

Luckily, with the invention of plastic, a lot of positive changes occurred. For one, plumbers were no longer beholden to using these natural metals and clays, which can crack easily, or leach harmful substances into your drinking water. Plastics offered an inexpensive, easy-to-work-with and safe workaround to the alternatives.

Plastics now account for most to all of the new pipes you’ll find in Toronto. The most popular pipes, approved by Ontario building codes, are PEX (for water distribution), ABS (for drains), and PVC (for the underground main drain of the sewer). The outlier here is copper, which as you obviously know is not a plastic, but is nevertheless still used for main water service, because, compared to iron, steel and lead, it is soft, light, non-toxic and easy for plumbers to work with.

Old Stack Pipes

Like everything, when metal pipes get older, certain age-related issues begin to arise. In past articles, we have discussed lead pipes and underground clay drain piping – both undesirable plumbing features that homeowners really should replace. If you have lead pipes or clay drain piping, get in touch with us right away to upgrade. In this article, however, we will be focusing specifically on vertical cast iron drainpipes – or, what we plumbers call a “stack”. It is a pretty strong pipe, and as far as metals go it really isn’t too bad; it even has certain advantages compared to plastic, namely its quietness when water flows through it.

Despite that, the corrosion process over time can cause a build-up inside these pipes, causing the diameter of the pipe to become smaller and smaller. Eventually, the stack pipe cannot serve the proper amount of sewage, and a blockage is formed.

Another problem that old cast iron pipes can create is leaking, because the metal is susceptible to hairline cracks. There is a helpful question and answer thread on Houzz that breaks down the reasons for cast iron pipes cracking. To summarize, cast iron can become brittle over time, and the forces of leverage and weight can cause it to form cracks due to its rigidity.

Often, when you look at all portions of a cast iron pipe (including the vent stack that is terminated above the roof), the worst is the bottom of the pipe, located in the basement. And of that, the most vulnerable spot is a short piece of cast iron with a 90-degree elbow underground, right before the pipe connects to clay. All the pipe’s rusty particles fall down and are collected in the horizontal section of the drain, causing problems.

These are just a few issues homeowners might come up against if they have cast iron stack pipes. But what can they do about it?

Fixing the Issues

Now that you understand the potential problems that can arise from having an old cast iron stack pipe, let’s discuss briefly how you can remedy the problem. Even if you haven’t seen any problems yet, like blockages or leaking, if you live in an older Toronto home, it is wise to have Mister Plumber come check it out. You can liken it to taking preventative medical precautions – you want to take healthy measures before you get sick.

In the picture below, you can see an old cast iron pipe that has been upgraded; its underground portion has been upgraded with PVC and its above ground portion with ABS. At Mister Plumber, we recommend this plastic replacement for a more efficient, problem-free stack pipe. Plastics are relatively inexpensive, and our expert plumbing services in Toronto are competitively priced, so the entire process won’t be very hard on your wallet. It is a good move to make if you want to avoid potentially damaging leaks, as well as unhealthy, unsightly backups and blockages.

The Mister Plumber Difference

With tons of experience serving the GTA, we know Toronto plumbing. Living and breathing Toronto plumbing, we are particularly adept at spotting problems and then efficiently, inexpensively solving them, using top-of-the-line gadgetry, equipment and materials. But don’t take our word for it – visit our homepage and scroll down to read the many glowing customer testimonials. You don’t earn a five star Google rating with customers by slacking off – we take this job, and your happiness, very seriously.

With that in mind, if you live in an older home, give us a ring. It is better to nip these things in the bud then wait for a plumbing emergency to occur. To summarize, here is message to Torontonians: if you have old cast iron main stack, do not wait for sewage backup (that always seem to happen for some reasons on weekends or holidays!). Call Mister Plumber and get the job done right. Cast iron might be good for frying up a steak, but it shouldn’t be trusted with waste drainage, not when there are plastics like ABS and PVC that do the job much better.  

The joys of having an older home are numerous. They are often constructed solidly, in beautiful brick, brimming with old timey charm and character. But, as we have discussed many times on this blog, once you strip back that lovely exterior and look at the plumbing, there can be some problematic surprises waiting there for you. Lead and cast iron are just a couple of the popular offenders, but in this blog we will discuss a different one.

Most houses in Toronto – especially older houses – still have their old, original clay underground waste pipes. This is because 80 to 100 years ago, vitrified clay was the best material for drainpipes below ground level. Times, of course, have changed, and clay is no longer the best material to use, but nevertheless some of those pipes are in (more or less) good condition and perform their daily tasks.

Notice that we said some of them. Other homes aren’t so lucky, and the clay underground waste pipes can cause some real grief.Through our many visits and plumbing calls, we at Mister Plumber have come across numerous homeowners, who do not check their main drain often, with the same story: they have come one day to find sewage backed up and flooding the basement.

Sometimes, the homeowners just moved in, and haven’t had times to call a plumber for main drain inspection. That can be incredibly frustrating (not to mention costly) for a new homeowner, but the fact is that, while there are a lot of things checked by home inspectors prior to closing, the underground sewer line isn’t one of them.

That said, let’s take a closer look at the process behind inspecting your drain – how we inspect it, what we often recommend if there is a problem, and what we do if pipe replacement is necessary.   

Inspecting the Drain

The main drain and the sewer line are both located underground, so you need to get your drain inspected by experts with special equipment. The special drain camera we use here at Mister Plumber that is top of the line and can show us what kind of condition the buried pipe is in. The camera itself has LED lighting and sends back pictures to the monitor of the inner space of the pipe. A trained, eagle-eyed plumber knows exactly what they are looking for in these images – tell tale signs that the pipe needs unblocking or replacing.  

The picture below this paragraph shows a blockage inside of an old pipe that was detected by our camera after a customer’s basement flooded with sewage. It is a little difficult to see, but the monitor is definitely showing signs of blockage. You can think of us like plumbing detectives, looking for clues, and this right here is the smoking gun!

With the problem assessed, it is time to consider what must be done. Some issues can be solved with a process known as “drain snaking”, while others require either partial or full sewer line replacement – you can click here to learn more about the services we offer. For now, let’s take a quick look at the options.

Drain Snaking

Drain snaking is the process of using a flexible auger – essentially, a helical metal wire that we use to move through a pipe and break up soft debris. The drain snake knocks off excess build-up from the sides of your pipe, allowing for a better flow. If roots have made their way into the main drain, whether through small cracks or fractures, a snake might be temporarily effective at cutting the roots and solving the issue of a backup. As the leading drain cleaning experts in Toronto we have used this process many times, to good effect. But it doesn’t always work.

Replacement

Some blockages cannot be cleared with the use of a drain snake, either because the settlements have become too rigid over time, or there is significant structural damage to the pipe. In these cases, homeowners will require pipe replacement. It may seem like a large undertaking, but a) it really isn’t that disruptive or expensive, b) it has to be done eventually (no pipe lasts forever), and c) it is completely necessary if you want to avoid costlier, unhealthy backups in the future.

What we do is replace the clay pipes with new PVC. A durable, cost-efficient and easy-to-work-with plastic, PVC is the top choice of any good plumber looking to partially or fully replace a main drain. You can see from the chart in this comprehensive study the relative water main break rates in North America for different materials; notice that materials like cast iron and cement have very break rates, whereas PVC has only a minuscule amount.

Mister Plumber provides both partial and full sewer line replacement, including the outside portion up to the property line. Also, in order to save some money for the homeowners we help, we combine the partial replacement with the installation of a backwater valve – a valve that protects against backflow. With this plumbing package, the homeowner gets a new PVC pipe,  a backflow valve and a rebate from city of Toronto.

The second picture, seen above, shows a backwater valve installed in place of a broken clay pipe. At Mister Plumber, we understand that some drain work can be expensive, so finding the best, most cost-effective solution for homeowners our top priority. That’s why we ensure that each and every one of our customers gets the fullest service we can offer, complete with professional, up-to-the-minute equipment and materials.

If you suspect you might have clay main drain pipes, or are experiencing blockages and backups, please do not hesitate to give Mister Plumber a call. Even if it happens in the middle of the night. At Mister Plumber, we understand that your plumbing doesn’t always work on a convenient schedule, and can sometimes malfunction at the least convenient times, which is why we offer 24/7 help. For more information, and to see pictures of our recent jobs, check out our website.

As we head into a New Year, and yet another popular season for home renovation, we start seeing more and more homeowners mull over plumbing fixtures. Oftentimes, the first room to get renovated is the bathroom, and homeowners, eager to see their money in the final product, will go for trendy fixtures like hanging vanities and modern faucets.

It’s not that these trendy fixtures are always bad. Sometimes you can find the perfect mix of functionality and aesthetics. But nowadays, there are hundreds – even thousands – of plumbing fixtures brands on the market, and it takes some research to ensure that you aren’t just getting a pretty picture. That’s why you can always call us for help with your plumbing problems during renovation.

The amount of choice out there can feel pretty overwhelming, and it’s difficult for homeowners to know how to choose the right fixture. Some fixtures have a limited warranty while others have a lifetime warranty. Some brands are new to market while some have a long history. To help you cut through the noise, we at MisterPlumber have decided to share our thoughts on plumbing fixtures.

To sum up our ample plumbing experience, we have noticed that homeowners who choose well-known brands – brands with experience in manufacturing for residential functionality, and with honed lines of customer service – often feel better about their purchase than those who go with new, fad brands. To clarify this point, let’s look at a few reasons fad fixture soften come up short, and then discuss what to look for in bathroom fixtures.

The Trouble with Fad Fixtures

You have to remember that style and finish are not the most important feature when choosing bathroom fixtures.  They are a fantastic bonus feature, to be sure, but they shouldn’t be priority number one. For instance, we’ve heard many plumbers state that certain designer faucets, which admittedly do look fabulous because of the designers’ work, have significant technical drawbacks. Such taps are hard to install and they do not mix water smoothly, making for sharp spikes in the temperature of the discharging water.

Another inconvenience with new brands is that they don’t yet have the means to reliably create new parts, nor do they enjoy the economy of scale that their established competitors do, meaning that, if you need to replace anything, it is more difficult and more expensive. Even a simple replacement like a faucet cartridge can be a major headache.

So, our advice: do not choose faucets by their look and price. Here is an example to support our statement. Maybe around 15 years ago, a new line of “Eurostream” kitchen faucets burst onto the market that were not only trendy looking but pretty affordable too. Naturally, a lot of people bought them. In five years, however, the company went out of business and it was impossible to get a replacement cartridge, so homeowners had to buy anotherfaucet and hire a plumber to replace it. What was meant initially to be acost-saving measure turned out costing homeowners over double the price.

That’s not to say that this is the case with every new fixture company, and sometimes it can be good to patronize a new company that appears to make good products. It is best, however, to start looking for a plumber in Toronto to consult with before you make a big purchase. Our knowledgeable plumbers here at Mister Plumber will be able to weigh on in whether the fixture will work logistically for your bathroom, and notify you of any potential drawbacks in the design.

How to Pick the Right Fixtures

Whether it’s taps, toilets, vanities or tubs, most plumbers suggest you go with plumbing fixtures from well-known brands. You want to go with brands that have enjoyed many years on market, whose customer service is easy to work with and responds quickly to homeowners‘ requests. This way if you run into a problem, need to fix that dripping faucet or need a key feature replaced, you can do so easily and quickly.

Also, older brands often have lifetime warranties and replace worn parts for free. Again, this is likely because of economy of scale, but also because older brands tend to do whatever they can to secure brandloyalty – and there’s no better avenue to loyalty than a lifetime guarantee.

For instance, as an anecdote, our personal experience with the “Moen” brand has been very positive. Once, when a vanity tap started leaking and it was determined that the problem was non-repairable, Moen offered a complete replacement of the tap with no charge to the homeowner (our plumber was the homeowner in this case!). Conversely, we’ve had times where we’ve dealt with homeowners who struggle to replace a part with a designer fixture.

This article from the Faucet Guide (which is a real publication dedicated to the review of all things bathroom fixture!) agrees with our assessment about Moen, listing them as the top faucet on the market. This is a website that we recommend you peruse if you want unbiased, thorough reviews on bathroom fixtures from people who really know what they’re talking about. Yes, customer reviews on Amazon are helpful, but the Faucet Guide offers reviews from people who really know what they’re talking about.

The Bottom Line

With thousands of fixtures on the market, it can be difficult to cut through the noise and find the quality. While there is no hard and fast rule for finding quality, we have found that going with large, established companies is a safer bet in terms of replacement parts, functionality and customer support.

There are certainly designer fixtures that buck this trend – we understand that. That’s why, when you are serious about remodelling or renovating your bathroom, it’s in your best interest to get a free estimate from a local Toronto plumber and consult with a plumber about fixtures. We will be able to impart our years of industry knowledge and point you in the direction of well-made fixtures bolstered by supportive brands.

When it comes time to replace your bathroom fixtures, remember that it’s better to prioritize functionality over aesthetics. It’s much easier finding a reliable brand that makes trendy looking fixtures than itis finding a trendy looking brand making reliable fixtures.

It sounds just about as scary as it is: lead in the drinking water. It’s something that, these days, we intuitively know is wrong, but there was a time in the not-so-distant past that lead water pipes were the norm. It’s an issue that experienced plumbers in Toronto have been dealing with for decades, but it recently got a signal boost a few years ago when the Toronto Star ran an investigative piece on it.

In the piece, the Star obtained data from 15,000 water tap samples between 2008 and 2014 and found that 13 percent of Toronto households tested for unsafe levels of lead. In some cases, the maximum acceptable leadconcentrations were exceeded by more than 2,000times. That’s more than an eighth of Toronto households exposed to a dangerous toxin, some of them to an incredibly hazardous degree.

Naturally, the homeowners that read the article were outraged, and many did something about it. In the intervening years, we at Mister Plumber have been instrumental in replacing old lead pipes (we replaced them before the article as well). But we figured we would use this blog to bring attention to the problem once again, since there are still many Toronto homes whose water is still lead contaminated.

In this post, we’ll look at the history of lead pipes in Toronto, as well as the hazards these pipes pose. Finally, we will discuss what you can do to solve the problem, and how the City of Toronto can help.

The History

The history of lead in plumbing is a long one, dating all the way back to Roman times when the Empire was supplied their water by lead pipes. It was so important to plumbing, in fact, that it’s even where we got the word from – “lead” in Latin is “plumb”, which is where we get the wordplumber.

But there is evidence that lead poisoning might have even been the reason for the fall of Rome, as this Washington Post article explains. That being the case, it’s incredible that a couple thousand years later, people still hadn’t learned their lesson about lead.

Many houses in Toronto built prior to the 1950s have lead pipes underground that supply clean drinking water to the house. Lead was widely used in plumbing because its unique properties made it ideal for underground fitting – it is soft metal and can be bent without kinking, meaning that it can be manoeuvred and manipulated easily, and that shifting soil won’t beak it.

The only problem is that, as the lead in the pipe corrodes, it enters the drinking water. The corrosion can happen swiftly, causing the pipes to exceed safe PPB (parts per billion) lead levels (though it is also worth noting that no level of lead is safe for children). If you suspect you have lead pipes, get in touch with our expert plumbers immediately.

The Hazard

Nowadays, it has been proven scientifically that this heavy metal can cause health issues in humans –, especially children. Lead affects the nervous system and brain and can cause serious developmental problems for fetuses, babies and children under six. It is also hazardous to adults, building up in the system over time, causing fatigue, memory loss, high blood pressure and a whole host of other problems.

For more information on the serious, deleterious effects of lead in both children and adults, we recommend you take a look at theWorld Health Organization’s page on the subject. They state that there is no safe level of lead exposure.

The Solution

Another safe metal that can be used underground is soft temper copper. It has similar advantageous properties to lead, like bending under soil pressure without harming itself, only without the harmful effects. It’s the standard underground piping that we at Mister Plumber use, for its agility as well as its long-lasting qualities.

Another great thing about copper is that it is sold as a coil in 66- and 100-foot lines, which means that the private portion of a water service can be done with one piece of pipe, where one end is connected to cityside and the other end has a soldering connection with the main shut off valve in the house. No need for multiple joints, which could be susceptible to root damage. You can learn about pipe lining services and what they can do for you at this link.

The new copper pipe that we use at Mister Plumber is bigger in size, as new Ontario plumbing codes state that the minimum size for one family dwelling must be at least 3/4” inside diameter, to aid in better water pressure (among other reasons). So you might find that a welcome by-product of replacing your old lead pipes is better water pressure and a more satisfying morning shower.

How We Can Help

The City of Toronto encourages everyone who has old lead pipes to upgrade with copper within their private property, at which point the city side is upgraded by Toronto Water at no cost to the homeowner. It is a highly recommended replacement, and one that the City is doing in order to keep homeowners – especially those with young children – safe from the effects of lead.

Mister Plumber is a leading licensed contractor in Toronto for residential underground pipe replacement. We use modern equipment, like air compressors, and one of the newest and keep homeowners models of torpedo, which allows us to do the work within one day. All estimates are provided by master licensed plumbers, who have over 15 years of experience in the GTA.

There should be no reason in 2019 for lead pipes in your property, especially given the great work Toronto Star did a few years again uncovering the problem. If your house is older, or you suspect that it has lead piping, call Mister Plumber immediately and we will replace those old lead pipes today with safe, long-lasting copper pipes.

If the fall of Rome taught us anything, it’s that we have to pay proper attention to the materials we use in our plumbing. Let’s not let this mistake continue any longer than it has to – call us today and let’s make sure lead is dead in Toronto!

While summer is the peak season for home renovations, a lot of homeowners actually undertake renos in the winter as well. Perhaps as a holiday gift to themselves, perhaps as a New Year’s Resolution, or maybe because, after entertaining guests over the holidays, they finally saw their house through someone else’s eyes: homeowners tend to hit the ground running in January with their new home renovations.

Oftentimes when homeowners discuss renovating a house, what they’re really talking about is renovating either the kitchen or bathroom. At least in our experience, those tend to be the two rooms that receive the most focus and the most money. It makes perfect sense: the bathroom tends to get grimy over time, and the kitchen sees a similar sort of wear-and-tear from both water and kitchen splatter.

Both those projects, however, often require a great deal of work to be done behind the scenes, with homeowners electing to tear down walls and rearrange the layout. This is something we’ve discussed before on this blog, but the point bears repeating: if you’re going to be tearing down a wall, you might as well have your plumbing inspected by a plumber with experience serving Toronto homes while you’re at it. Not only is it economical, but it makes practical sense as well.

Even if you aren’t planning on tearing down a wall, but still want to fully renovate your kitchen or bathroom, you should pay some attention to plumbing. As we’ll discuss, your behind-the-scenes plumbing ages in the same way your walls and tiles do and deserve the same kind of makeover. This article will run through a few common examples of plumbing renovations that can work in tandem with your New Year’s renos, making your house run more efficiently.

Pipe Upgrades

Some homeowners try to save money by skipping pipe upgrades after demolition, but we would like to stress again that plumbing and drain systems get older, just like walls and tiles. The ageing process makes pipe joints weaker, which creates the potential for leaky sites. It is much easier, and more intuitive, to upgrade your plumbing when everything is accessible, such as after a demolition.

Also, because it’s easier, it costs less, because the plumber spends less time doing the work. It may seem like another added cost, atop an already expensive renovation, but such work will never be cheaper than it is when your pipes are open and accessible. Our advice is to factor in the cost of plumbing renovations initially, when you do your reno budgeting.

new sink

Preventing Installation Errors

To prevent mistakes — or even to fix existing mistakes in pipes connections – it is important to hire a licensed plumber during your renovation work. For example, a plumber might take into consideration that the new sink you want to install will be a pedestal type one, in which case he/she can relocate the drain to the center of the fixture. This allows you to hide the P-trap behind a leg upon finishing, which looks and functions a lot better. You can see from the photos of our past projects in this post (the above one is of a pedestal sink) that having a plumber makes a big difference in installation.

Some modern bathroom vanities – the sink basin and surrounding storage – that we’ve seen are wall-hung and come with drawers. This “floating effect” is really popular right, and it looks very cool, but in order to pull it off properly, the plumbing preparations must be very precise.  If you are considering a floating bathroom vanity, get expert plumbing services in Toronto from Mister Plumber.

Another important task to get your plumber to do is check the vent pipe. If the slope of the vent pipe is off, it could cause gurgling sounds in the sink or a backup of solids in the pipes. These may sound like minor concerns, but, if you’re already going all out on your renovations, you might as well make sure everything is perfect. The last thing you’d want is to spend a load of money on your bathroom renos, only to find that something was improperly installed and therefore gurgling away.

Toilet Installation

Toilet installation is tricky business and requires a deft, professional touch. The distance from the toilet’s flange to the back wall has to be verified and adjusted if needed. Most toilets require a space equal to 12” on the finish, from the center of the toilet flange back to the wall. For this, another inch or so has to be added at the time of rough-in for drywall and tiles. These are the sorts of small but significant considerations that it’s difficult for homeowners to make on their own.

toilet

Setting a toilet without a plumber is also inadvisable, as setting the flange height, securing the closet bolts and wax ring, and making everything level can be very tricky, and if done wrong can result in ongoing, nasty leaks. Sure, you can bunch of DIY articles online, watch a few YouTube videos, and maybe have a successful installation, but for the inexpensive prices we offer to do it for you, what’s the use?

Here is some advice for all the homeowners out there: when budgeting for a New Year’s renovation, make sure you leave some money aside for plumbing, and hire a professional plumber at the beginning of the project, to avoid costly problems down the line. Before starting your project, make a decision about what kind of plumbing fixtures you are going to use and provide those specifications to the plumber.

If you’re going to be doing any demolition, you might as well get your pipes checked. If you aren’t planning on doing demolitions, but you’re installing new fixtures, it’s still a wise idea to call us today and have us take a look. Whether you’re doing it as a gift for yourself, a New Year’s Resolution, or “just because”, make sure your renovations are done the right way!

 

Different people have different philosophies when it comes to home buying. Some would prefer to buy a home already constructed, either because they like the existing character, or the location, or simply because it’s a convenient alternative. Others would prefer to buy a property and build upon it, where they can see it all come together and have a say in the construction, aesthetic choices and prices.

There’s no one right answer here. It really is to each their own. But with the difference in home buying comes certain differences in costs. Whereas you might not be building your plumbing from scratch when you buy an already constructed house, the renovations you might need (if the house’s plumbing is old or in disrepair) are more costly than if you had started from scratch. Why is that?

At Mister Plumber, we field this question pretty often and understand why someone would be curious – even skeptical – of the difference in cost. Why is plumbing work cheaper for new construction compared to renovations? That’s the question we’ll be attempting to answer with this blog post, as well as what to consider in each scenario, and why a plumbing company in Toronto you can rely on is of the utmost importance both in renovating and constructing from new.

What To Consider When Renovating

Here’s the long and the short of it: expect costs to be a bit higher when renovating as opposed to new construction (more on that below). Of course, there are certain workarounds. As we’ve discussed on this blog before (see: A Short Guide to Washroom Plumbing Renovations), a great time to do plumbing renovations is when other renovations are underway, especially ones that require removing drywall, that way you can capitalize on the existing access.

plumbing issues

Really, it all depends on the state of your plumbing. If you need multiple system upgrades, and each requires some kind of wall removal or working around floor joists, it can cost more, because the job is trickier and more time-consuming – a good first step, in any case, is to contact us to learn more about the job.

What To Consider With New Construction

If you were weighing out the two options – say you had the opportunity to build a new house or purchase one, and the cost of plumbing was a deciding factor – you might have a difficult choice on your hands. Yes, the work itself is generally less expensive when constructing new, but it also needs to be completed wholesale. On the other hand, a purchased house might need only minor renovations, and although pound for pound those renos are pricier, the overall cost is probably still less.

But when constructing from new, you have the ability to install long-term plumbing that you know is going to last. You get it done right the first time. Rarely are homeowners in a position where they have to choose between the two, as most people have made up their mind what type of house they’ll buy well before contacting a plumber, but as a point of argument, we thought it would be beneficial to compare.

Why New Construction Is Generally Less Expensive

So let’s answer the question first posed in the intro: Why is plumbing work cheaper for new construction compared to renovations? First of all, when houses are built, there is no drywall on the walls and ceiling, which means that plumbers have full access to install both drain and water line. There is no impediment to the work, and therefore the job gets done quicker.

Secondly, new houses have bigger sizes of studs and floor joists, to facilitate more insulation. For example, all exterior frames in a new home have to be done using 2×6 – not 2X4, as was the previous standard – and therefore there is more room to install drain stacks.

However, because of this, water pipes cannot be installed inside the exterior wall, since they will be left inadequately insulated. But that’s not a huge issue – because of the smaller pipe size, they easily fit in the thinner interior wall.

Floor joists, in most cases, are 2×12, which is another helpful amount of space, since it makes putting in horizontal drain pipes with the proper slope much simpler.

Why Renovations Are Generally More Expensive

plumbing issues

In the picture above, you can see some of the renovation plumbing work we’ve done. Notice here that the plumber does not have space from below – this is because of the finished ceiling, which implies cutting the floor and therefore makes the job more difficult.

In such old houses, floor joists are made of 2X8 or even 2×6. According to the building codes, notches or holes on floor joists are prohibited, which makes means there is a very tiny range for the installation of sloped wastewater pipes. This can get very tricky, as it’s almost like a plumbing puzzle that needs to be solved!

But it’s not always this tricky. Check out the picture that appears first in this article. In it, you’ll see some plumbing we did in a basement wall. The job here was relatively easy, at least compared with some of the more awkward renovation jobs, since as you can see there is good access from both sides. This access makes our job much easier, and therefore quicker.

It should be noted that renovation plumbing is not only about creating new plumbing fixtures or relocating existing ones; it is also about fixing all those little problems like negative sloping, improper fittings, hairline cracks, code violations etc. You might even want to upgrade your water service during your renovation for better efficiency and performance. Such problems are usually unforeseen and affect the final cost of plumbing work. By contrast, these unforeseen problems don’t pop up in new construction plumbing.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has been at least a little educational. Plumber pricing, far from being arbitrary, is tied to the time and materials it takes to get a job done. At Mister Plumber, we pride ourselves on doing quality work, as efficiently as is humanly possible and for a reasonable price. And it’s articles like this one that help us create transparency with customers.

Of course, if you have any further questions about the differences between new constructions and renovation plumbing, or you have specific queries about your home plumbing, don’t hesitate to give us a ring or call us for a free estimate anytime!

     

As we’ve discussed elsewhere on this blog, basement flooding is easily one of the homeowner’s biggest fears. Not only is the basement a foundationally important part of the home, but it’s also where a lot of high-value appliances and invaluable keepsakes are kept. Should your basement flood, you could be looking at a high cost for damages, as well as the loss of irretrievable family heirlooms and memories.

The causes of basement flooding are numerous, but, luckily, the solution to the problem is simple. It takes a quality plumber such as Mister Plumber – your plumbing experts in Toronto – and a nifty bit of engineering to protect your house against the deleterious effect of flooding. In this post, we will look at those aforementioned causes, and detail the simple solution: a backwater valve. We will also talk briefly about some of the rebates available to homeowners who install one.

The Causes Of Basement Flooding

Plumbing is complex, so it should come as no surprise that plumbing emergencies are equally as complicated. There is no one reason for basement flooding; there are a number of possible vulnerabilities in your plumbing that could cause the problem.

-Basement flooding can be through the sanitary drain, as when the sanitary sewer system overloads or becomes blocked up.

-A storm drain backup could be the cause of the problem, in which case the overburdened public system of drains could cause your basement to flood.

-Another reason for flooding might be a clogged window well drainpipe, or broken pipes, in which case you should call us to repair broken pipes or unclog them.

-A common reasons is that you might experience a failure in your sump pump (the pump that removes excess water in your basement), for a number of reasons: debris could be interfering in the pump, for instance, or the sump pump was installed incorrectly. If this is the case, call Mister Plumber at any time of day, 24/7 and we will fix the issue. A sump pump failure can be a real headache of a plumbing emergency, but we have dealt with it many times before.

-The most common cause of basement flooding, however, is wastewater backup through the underground sanitary sewer pipe. Even new houses with new PVC pipes can be affected by sewage back flow. When the weather gets particularly wet here in Toronto, we at Mister Plumber see this problem frequently. It happens because all houses are connected to a larger pipe on the road and, in case of a clog in that pipe, it is the lower basements that are flooded first.

Those are a few of the many reasons that your basement might become flooded, but let’s not dwell on the negatives. Let’s talk about how you can protect your house from Mother Nature’s more destructive tendencies.

The Solution To Basement Flooding

While the reasons might be numerous and complicated, the solution is simple and singular. The backwater valve even looks simple – it’s an unassuming little tube and valve, without any complicated bells or whistles. Essentially, engineers found that the simple solution to basement flooding problems was to create a valve homeowners could install to keep sewage from the city sewer pipes from infiltrating the home system, using a gate which closes the main drain pipe and therefore stops waste water backup.

The valve only allows sewage to flow the right way – that is, out of your house. If ever the city sewer is backed up and wastewater is trying to make its way into your house, the valve gate closes. It’s pretty much the bouncer of your underground pipes!

But all backwater valves aren’t the same, and choosing the right one can be tricky. For starters, the gate inside of the backwater valve should normally be open, allowing free air circulation in the pipe (this type is the only one permitted according to the Ontario plumbing codes). There are a couple of models that are designed for the inside of the basement, models for outside installation, and different models to use with different slopes on a pipe.

How To Install A Backwater Valve

As you might have guessed, only a licensed plumber can determine which model will work the best in any particular situation. Choosing to take on backwater valve installation as a DIY project is therefore strongly discouraged. With something as important as the safety of your basement appliances and home’s foundation, you want to get it right the first time.

At Mister Plumber, we have installed more backwater valves than we care to think about (though the number is probably somewhere in the four-figure range). With some professional diagnostics, we can determine exactly the type of valve required and install it expertly, offering affordable plumbing services in Toronto around the clock. But why even get a backwater valve? Well, here’s why:

Why You Should Install One Today

The value of installing a backwater valve is self-explanatory to most homeowners, but, in the interest of argument, let’s looks at a few reasons:

-As you might have noticed, the weather is only getting fiercer year after year. As flooding becomes a new norm, especially here in the GTA, you will want a backwater valve as your sewage bouncer.

-As mentioned, the basement is home to appliances and keepsakes that you don’t want to see destroyed.

-A flood could negatively impact property value.

-Many municipalities have incentives to install a backwater valve. The City of Toronto offers a rebate of $1250, and the Region of Peel has a rebate of $700 (on the condition that the house is located in a high-risk, area according to the Region of Peel map).

Not only will it save you from costly emergency repairs, but Toronto has also offered to pay a portion of the cost of installation. Mister Plumber has installed thousands of backwater valves and has an outstanding reputation in Toronto and the GTA, so if you need a backwater valve installed, give us a call. You never know when the next flood is going to hit, but with a backwater valve guarding your house, you won’t really have to care!

You wake up early in the morning, still a little bleary eyed from sleep, and saunter over to the washroom. Hoping for a nice, invigorating shower, you turn the knob on and step in. What you are met with, however, is not an invigorating shower – instead, what comes out is a lazy, slow dribble. Your water pressure is low.

It’s one of the more annoying features of some homes. We often normalize it over time, forget to notice it until we have a shower elsewhere – the gym, a hotel, or a relative’s house – and then realize that we are living with suboptimal water pressure. It’s also one of those things that a lot of people think is simply “the way it is”, an unfixable fact of life. But water pressure can be improved.

Poor water pressure is a common problem in older houses in Toronto, and it even rears its head in newer homes. Pinpointing the exact reason for your low water pressure takes some diagnostic skills, which in turn requires the knowledge of a professional plumber. Water pressure depends on many factors, and if you are dissatisfied with your low water pressure, give Mister Plumber a call today. In the meantime, in this blog we’ll review some of the factors that cause the low pressure.

The Underground Main Water Pipe

Firstly, a common culprit of low water pressure is narrow underground water pipes. In order for the water pressure to stand a chance of making it into your home, your underground main water pipe has to be the correct size. According to the current Ontario plumbing codes, every single-family dwelling requires a minimum 3/4” ID (inside diameter) main water pipe, but most older houses still have their original half-inch pipe.

It is important to note that underground pipes that extend from the road to your house consist of two portions: a city portion and a private portion. The private portion is completely the homeowners’ responsibility. You can absolutely call us and we can help upgrade your water service by installing a higher ID private portion, a job we do quite often.

The city portion of pipe, on the other hand, can only be upgraded or replaced by a city contractor who has a flat rate for everybody. This means, unfortunately, that where the city portion of the pipe is concerned, homeowners cannot shop around. Underground water service for the house is probably the number one factor in whether or not you receive low or high water pressure.

Piping Inside The House

Next, another common offender is the piping inside your house. Another plumbing code states that pipes running from the water meter to the cold water inlet on the heater must be no less then 3/4”. It makes good sense because the hot water tank or boiler doesn’t produce its own pressure; it just uses cold water pressure from the municipal pipe, and then one pipe in the house is eventually split into two: cold and hot. A narrow pipe inside your house, therefore, can also negatively affect water pressure. The only way to mitigate a problem like this is to hire a local plumber in Toronto (such as ourselves!) to come take a look.

Gate Valves

The third reason you might be experiencing suboptimal water pressure is the type of shutoff valves you have (valves used to control the flow of water in a home). Gate valves, for example, never open 100%, and therefore restrict the flow of water by 10-15%, causing a decrease in water pressure. Homes of all ages can come with gate valves. If you want your gate valves replaced, Mister Plumber can come and install what is known as a “ball valve”. Ball type valves are full port, and in their opening position they have a size equal to that of the pipe, and therefore do not cut pressure.

Water Meter

The fourth factor we might consider when diagnosing the cause of your low water pressure is the water meter, which in many cases has half-inch inlet and outlet tailpieces (which, as established, is too narrow, and restricts water flow). If you want to upgrade your tailpieces, call us for a free estimate or request an estimate on our website. We respond immediately and are available around the clock, 24/7 for both residential and commercial plumbing services.

If your underground pipe has been upgraded to a 3/4” or 1” pipe, you as a homeowner have the right to ask the city to upgrade your water meter. This job can only be done by the city, however, because it is city property.

Mineral Build-up

The last factor that might be causing your low water pressure is actually a less involved one than the previous four: mineral build up in your cartridges and spout aerators. If build-up happens in your shower valve cartridge or faucet cartridge, you can simply replace it with new one. They aren’t that expensive, and could be the solution to your problem.

If build-up happens on your showerhead, you can use scissors or vinegar to clean the rubber holes, and you will notice a much better and more pleasant flow when taking a shower. For a visual tutorial, this YouTube video does a good job of explaining how to clean the build-up from your showerhead.

These are the most common reasons for lousy water pressure, and one or multiple of these factors could be causing your problems. You don’t have to suffer through bad showers and slow faucets in your home. You don’t have to wake up every morning dreading the shower, or waste an hour trying to do the dishes with the slow stream from your faucet.

Regardless of how old your Toronto home is, there is a solution for you. To get professional check-up or advice, call Mister Plumber and we will be happy to troubleshoot your low pressure problems. We offer free estimates, a number of plumbing services, and amazing customer service – but don’t take our word for it. Check out our reviews online!

Like any trade or discipline, plumbing has evolved over time, and will continue to evolve. Whereas in a bygone time, it would have been acceptable to have lead piping in your plumbing, we now know that lead can be dangerous. The early 20th Century saw the introduction of PVC piping in plumbing, and later on in the century, low-flush toilets were introduced. New changes in technology have crept into the plumbing trade by way of sophisticated new methods of drain inspection, as well – a plumber in Toronto with experience will use state-of-the-art CCTV cameras, for instance.

This is all to say that, in an effort to make the public and private water systems safer and more efficient, city councils will often mandate the installation of new plumbing features, often on the back of ample research. As the trade (and the industry surrounding it) makes new innovations, homeowners are sometimes forced to upgrade.

In this article, we will be discussing Ontario plumbing codes and regulations, which change every 2-3 years and bring with them some new, mandatory things that homeowners need to do. In particular, we will discuss two recent developments – backwater prevention and the ThermoDrain Building Code Amendment – and explain some of the reasons behind the mandates, as well as how we can help.

First, according to the city council’s decision, any homeowner in Toronto applying for a plumbing permit for either new construction or the addition of new plumbing fixtures to an existing basement must install a backwater valve. If you are unfamiliar with what a backwater valve is, don’t worry – it’s really quite easy to understand. Essentially, a backwater valve is a flow control valve that allows wastewater to drain away from your home, but will close if a reversal of flow should occur.

It is necessary for a number of reasons. Firstly, the city is growing, and that means bigger loads for underground sewer pipes. Also, the weather has become more unpredictable lately, and heavy, long-lasting rains are not uncommon. For these reasons, city pipe overflow is on the rise (quite literally), and the purpose of a backwater valve is to prevent sewage backup to a homeowner’s basement in the case of city pipe overflows.

Such situations are beyond a homeowner’s control, but could nevertheless cause damage and health risks. Wastewater backflow can structurally damage a basement, as well as ruin valuables and appliances. Worse yet, the ensuing bacteria and mould can pose a real health threat to those living in the house. Rather than potentially suffer the deleterious effects of city pipe backflow, it is wise to call a plumber in Toronto to install a backwater valve in your home.

They are required to protect basement fixtures and below grade drainage openings, which are susceptible to storm water and sewage, as well as subsoil drainage pipe that links to a sanitary drain. If you are curious about the City of Toronto’s rundown of backwater valves, along with the pertinent applications and submissions, check out the linked page. When it comes time to choose a licensed plumber, go with Mister Plumber – we have loads of experience and scores of great reviews to back it up!

The second mandatory installation is a new innovative product called “ThermoDrain”, also known as a heat recovery pipe. Here’s roughly how the ThermoDrain works: when the shower is in use, it discharges a lot of hot water into the drain, and as that hot water travels down the ThermoDrain pipe, it heats up cold water, which is wrapped in a spiralled coil around the drain pipe, thereby warming up fresh water that is going back into the drain pipe. If that sounds a little complicated, it’s only because, without a visual aid, the ThermoDrain can be tough to explain. Check out the picture below that we took, which shows a ThermoDrain we installed; you can clearly see the coil around the pipe, which is conveying fresh, warm water heated via conduction by the hot wastewater running in the main pipe.

Because the ThermoDrain gives water a head start on warming up, it takes less natural gas to bring your water to a desirable temperature. Over time, and in every new household, this represents a major reduction in the amount of natural gas we use. It saves on the cost of your utility bill and makes our planet greener, which is why in January of last year the new Ontario residential building codes mandated their use.

This isn’t altogether new, as Manitoba had previously mandated the use of heat recovery pipes, as had some states, like Washington. With everyone becoming a little more thoughtful about waste and the environment, the mandate makes a significant step forward, one that, fortunately, in the long run, will be accompanied by homeowner savings. Contact us here at Mister Plumber to install your very own ThermoDrain; even if, right now, you aren’t mandated to do so in an existing home, it is still a great idea, since it saves energy and money.

Plumbing will continue to evolve, as problems continue to present themselves and inventors continue to innovate. There is no way of telling what new mandates lie around the corner, but we can assume that they will have everyone’s best interests in mind. In the case of backwater valve installation, the mandate sought to help prevent city wastewater from ruining homes, and in the case of ThermoDrain, the mandate sought to make our homes more energy efficient. These are noble goals, and we’re glad they have been enacted.

If you need either a backwater valve or a ThermoDrain installed, don’t hesitate to call Mister Plumber. We work around the clock, 24/7 to meet your plumbing needs with a professional, experienced touch, and we service the whole Greater Toronto Area – from Burlington to Brock! Also, if you want to chat more about plumbing regulations, our line is always open. As Toronto’s premier plumbing company, we are happy to provide both service and education to all Toronto homeowners. Don’t wait until the wastewater has already flooded your basement – call us today!