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This Spring, Keep Your Kitchen Clog-Free

Your shower drain might give you a headache occasionally, as may your bathroom sink drain – after all, they bear the brunt of all that loose hair and soap scum. But far and away the most stubborn of the drains in your house is the kitchen drain. Not only does a kitchen drain get a fair amount of use, but it’s also sometimes treated as a receptacle for all sorts of unfortunate kitchen waste.

All those little food particulates and oils have a habit of collecting inside the pipe, sticking to the interior walls and refusing to shake loose. This build-up reduces the diameter of the pipe until it is completely clogged, in which case water cannot drain from the sink. That’s where you get that tell-tale gurgling, the sluggish draining times and the standing water.

The grease in the pipe may also be rinsed to the main drainpipe, which is 4” in diameter, and cause it to become clogged as well. Before this is allowed to happen – or, in other words, as soon as you notice a clogged or sluggish drain – call in the kitchen sink drain cleaning experts in Toronto here at Mister Plumber.

As the weather gets better, homeowners expect to do a bit more entertaining, which means throwing a little more strain on what might be an already overtaxed kitchen drain. To ensure that your summer dinner parties aren’t interrupted by unsightly clogs, and that your kitchen drain is working in peak condition, we’ll cover a few bases.

We’ll discuss easy kitchen drain maintenance tips, as well as expound the values of proper kitchen pipe installation. Finally, we’ll talk a little bit about professionally cleaning your kitchen drain.

Easy Kitchen Drain Maintenance Tips

 An ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure. Although you may be pressed for time when cooking, or cleaning the kitchen, always be mindful of what you allow down the drain. Here’s a list of a few common offenders that you shouldn’t let near your drainpipe:

  • Fats and oils. This includes cooking oils, bacon grease, butter, etc. as well as emulsified fats like mayonnaise and salad dressing.
  • Essentially, anything that clings to the inside of its container. This could include peanut butter, jam, ketchup… If it sticks to its own container, there’s a good chance it’ll stick to your pipes.
  • Food scraps. Have a compost and garbage close at hand when prepping food, and always scrape your plate into the waste before washing it.
  • Coffee grounds. Toss the whole filter, with grounds, into the compost, or – if using a French press – sieve it before disposing.
  • Flour, or anything powdery. This stuff seriously sticks to oil, forming what is essentially a dough inside your pipes, which can be very difficult to remove.

For more on what you shouldn’t put down your drains (including for sanitary and health reasons), we recommend you check out the City of Toronto’s official page on the matter.

Drain maintenance is partly about prevention, but it’s also partly about being proactive. Instead of waiting for a severe clog to form, consider receiving regular drain maintenance from a professional plumber. This can be anytime you deem it necessary. When you call in a plumber to fix that leaky kitchen faucet have them take a quick look at your drains as well – it could end up saving you down the line.

Your kitchen pipe problems may have something to do with how they were installed, though. Let’s look at how improper installation can exacerbate kitchen drain issues, as well as what the right kind of installation looks like.

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Improper Installation = A Frequent Headache

In the picture above, you can see a sewer camera showing the grease congestion inside of a main building drainpipe underground. In this case, the improper slope and fittings that were used at time of installation triggered the formation of a clog, and consequently the homeowners had to clean the pipe pretty often.

Installing the Right Way

Any kind of cleaning requires access to the pipe – and this access is facilitated by what is called a clean-out. It is mandatory to install a clean-out downstream of P-trap under the sink – then, when the stack is going underground, within 1 meter from floor level, another clean-out must be installed. But despite the fact that it’s mandatory, not all homes have them. Call us anytime in Toronto to figure out whether your clean-outs are installed, and if they have been done correctly.

Professionally Cleaning Your Kitchen Drain

In order to clear the drainpipe, plumbers use a snaking machine, which can come in different sizes and power levels. Basically, what a snaking machine does is burrow a long, flexible auger into the pipe, which works at the pipe’s interior, breaking away any built up stuff.

In very complicated situations, pipe power flush equipment might need to be used. These are the real big guns. In the second picture, just below, you can see what’s called a Ridgid power flush machine that produces up to 1750 PSI, which can rinse any build-up from inner wall of the pipe. It’s a modern and powerful piece of equipment that is pretty much exclusive to top plumbers.

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After cleaning the pipe, 3” and 4” drains can be checked with a camera to make sure that all stuff is rinsed down and you have the clear to use the plumbing fixtures again. Once everything is cleared up and in working order, go back to the first entry in this article: continue to maintain your drains, prevent clogs and take proactive steps against drain emergencies.

For the best drain cleaning services in the city, call us here at Mister Plumber. We have modern and powerful equipment to fight pipe clogs, as well as the experience and know-how to help you ensue that those clogs don’t return. Hopefully, this article has helped shed light on your kitchen drain, and you’ve learned the value of proper installation and regular cleaning!

Then vs. Now: How Toronto Plumbing Has Changed and Improved

The streetcars here in Toronto used to look more like trolley cars. The skyline used to be low to the ground, with only the Royal York Hotel towering above the others. The buildings used to be covered in soot, and you used to be able to get a hot meal for a nickel. But as with everything in the world, Toronto has changed in the last 100 or so years. In many ways, the new technologies and advancements of the intervening eras have greatly improved the city.

And Toronto plumbing is no different. 80 to 100 years ago, plumbers used different pipes and fittings when building houses. They were going off of the best contemporary research available to them, as well as – well – what they had available. But as the times in Toronto changed, so did our understanding of plumbing’s best practices.

In this post, as part of our ongoing series of plumbing tips for Toronto homeowners we’ll take a trip down memory lane, looking at how Toronto plumbing used to be. After, we will explore why some of the common materials of the time no longer hold water (pun intended). Finally, we will discuss what materials plumbers use contemporarily, and why these materials have replaced the old ones.

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The Way Things Used to Be

Older Toronto homes tend to be like museums for defunct types of plumbing materials. Many older homes still contain these following materials, and many homeowners consistently find problems. Here are a few old plumbing materials they used to use in Toronto that are generally considered to be problematic nowadays:

  • For water, they use galvanized steel pipes with threaded connections.
  • For the underground drain and sewer pipes, they used vitrified clay,
  • For the soil stack (or vertical main drain pipe), they used cast iron, with branches made of lead and galvanized steel.

It is important to stress that each of these pipes are pretty strong, so it is no wonder that a lot of houses in Toronto still have their original drain systems. But like everything in nature, these materials age, and the older these pipes and connectors get, the more problems they start creating. And the moment you notice a problem, hire a local plumber in Toronto to sort things out.

The Problem with the Old Materials

As popular as these materials once were, we now know that they each present unique and unavoidable problems. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20, and plumbers of the time really did believe these materials to be the best bet for homes, but time has a way of humbling our best intentions. In this section, let’s look at a few of the popular types of materials listed above, and discuss the degenerative issues each present.

Galvanized steel pipes – a popular choice in homes – can easily start leaking at the joints or get a pinhole, especially with hot water, as temperature spikes increase the speed of chemical processes. The process happens from the inside out, too, as the protective layer of zinc eats away, making it hard to detect. What this means is that, once any small leak in a galvanized steel pipe presents itself, it is already indicative of a significant level of damage.

The vitrified clay used in underground drain and sewer pipes are susceptible to its surrounding elements. Many of the older clay drain and sewer pipes we have come across at Mister Plumber have a depression in them, caused by soil settlements and clogs that form in and around them. For example, the joints in underground clay pipes are affected by roots, which snake their way into small openings or hairline cracks. It may start from a tiny hairline crack, but as more roots grow, they make the crack bigger, further compromising the pipe.

Lead branches, which were used with the soil stack, often have an opposing slope because of settlement down the middle portion of the house. The problem here is that the wrong slope causes drain congestion and waste water backup. And cast iron, which the main soil stack pipe is made of, is affected by this corrosion.

The corrosion built up inside the pipe significantly reduces its diameter. Because of this, plumbers often install a bigger pipe (4”, or a minimum of 3” for the toilet), and the drain system will still work, even with reduced space inside. At the same time, however, corroded particles fall down and collect in the 90-degree cast iron elbow underground. Plumbers know, therefore, that if the cast iron stack is clogged, the underground portion must be replaced first as the worst pipe is underground (soil moisture speeds the corrosion processes).

These are complicated processes that aren’t always understandable to the layperson, but at Mister Plumber we take special pride in knowing the ins and outs of residential plumbing in Toronto. We offer our plumbing services all over Toronto and so have seen these problems countless times before, making us well equipped to tackle them in a timely and well-priced fashion. Your home may seem like a confusing patchwork of pipes to you, but, to us, each home’s plumbing system is like a fun puzzle.

The New Toronto Plumbing

Nowadays, plumbers tend to use materials we know will not deteriorate over time (or, at least, not as quickly). Plastics are popular, since they are rigorously pressure tested, difficult to crack, and have superior longevity. Copper is another material we like to use, which, like plastics, doesn’t suffer the deteriorative effects of corrosion as badly.

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In the picture above, you can see an old cast iron stack that we’ve replaced with PVC and ABS – complete with a new clean-out, as the plumbing code requires. Then, as you can see, the floor was restored with concrete mix patching.  For underground main water pipe installation, we use type “K” copper, a soft temper copper specially designed to be used underground. It’s the same type The City of Toronto uses, and allows us to install without using any joints.

If you are at all unsure about the materials used in your plumbing, or are experiencing leaks, backups, low water pressure, etc., call us today here at Mister Plumber and we can chat about updating your Toronto home with contemporary plumbing materials.

There are some wonderful aspects left of the way Toronto used to be – from the stunning Distillery District to the fields of Fort York – but your plumbing shouldn’t be one of those relics. Call us today and get a free estimate!