A Toronto home’s main sewer drain carries all household sewage to municipal sewer lines or to an on-site septic system. Older drains can become invaded by tree roots, causing blockage that can lead to sewage backing up into the house. Replacing a drain can be expensive, though newer techniques can lessen the amount of digging required.
How drain lines work
This graphic shows the basic paths of a typical home’s sewer lines — key parts of which carry no water at all, but only air to provide proper venting.
(1) All drain pipes should be connected to a network of ventilation pipes that go up through the roof. Venting prevents sewer gases from drifting out of drains into living quarters. When having a home inspected before making a purchase offer, make sure the inspector confirms that all venting pipes are present.
(2) Most plumbing fixtures have curved “trap” sections that hold a little water forming an airtight seal to keep gases in. This section of pipe is easily removed to clear clogs.
(3) Toilets also have a trap, which is what keeps standing water in the bowl. The toilet drain is the largest drain pipe in the house.
(4) All household drains meet below the house in a main drain that carries the wastewater to the municipal sewer lines or to a septic system. A Y-shaped pipe in a basement or crawlspace provides clean-out access.
Sanitary vs. storm sewers
There are two types of sewer systems – storm water systems and sanitary sewers. Storm water systems or drains carry rainwater, ground water and road runoff water to an open body of water, such as streams, lakes and oceans. Sanitary sewers, however, carry wastewater from residential and commercial buildings to a treatment plant where the contaminants in the water can be removed.
Since the 1930s, storm drains and sanitary drains have been installed separately to prevent cross contamination. In a residence, the home’s drain system is connected to the city sewer by an underground pipe called a lateral line, usually 4 to 6 inches in diameter, installed at a slope to use gravity for water flow.
The size of the home’s drain piping is determined by the amount of flow possible and the type of waste material anticipated. For example, a bathroom sink usually has low volume and little if any solids in the water. These pipes are normally 1 ¼ inches in diameter. Bathtub, washing machine and kitchen sink drains carry larger volumes, with food and other solids possible in the kitchen sink. Therefore, a larger diameter pipe is necessary, usually 1 ½ inches in diameter.
Any plumbing beneath the house is large enough to accept the flow from the fixture drains. A 2-inch diameter pipe is common. All of these drains flow into the toilet drain to exit the building, so the toilet drain is the largest and matches the lateral line going to the city sewer system.
Homeowners can often fix drain clogs themselves if the problem is confined to specific fixtures such as a sink drain or a toilet. However, when all drains are affected – or when water going down one drain backs up in another drain – that generally means the main drain is clogged. Call a plumber who specializes in clearing drains.
If it’s a blockage from something flushed down a toilet, clear the drain by using a plumber’s auger or snake. However, in older neighborhoods, the cause may be tree roots. Older sewer lines were made from fired clay and as they age and weaken the tree roots creep in.
Drain experts are often able to bore through the roots and clear the drain, but in many cases the original drain pipe has become so deteriorated that the new passageway eventually collapses. When this happens the drain line usually needs to be replaced.
When lines become clogged and damages occur, in the majority of cases, the homeowners’ responsibility begins at the connection point to the city sewer system and includes the lateral lines and all drain plumbing in the home. Any maintenance, repairs and unclogging of these lines must be done by the homeowner, often with the help of a plumbing service.
While the indoor piping is relatively easy to repair, underground lateral lines require specialized equipment and tools, so those repairs often require a Toronto plumber.
If you are looking for plumber, Mister Plumber in Toronto, Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York specializing sewer repair, upgrade waterline, lead pipe replacement, water service upgrade, drain cleaning, backwater valve installation, lead pipe replacement, re-piping and emergency plumbing, Mister Plumber uses the latest technology to effectively troubleshoot and quickly repair any plumbing problem and offers a fast response and free estimates.