Plumbing is the lifeblood of a home, feeding it the necessary water it needs, removing the unwanted waste and – at its best – protecting the home from structural damage. And if we follow this “lifeblood” analogy a little further, the main artery of your home would be the water pipes, running from your home to the main city waterline. To that end, you want to make sure that these pipes are working well, up to code and supplying the home ample pressure by hiring a plumber with experience in Toronto to come take a look.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case here in Toronto. There are a lot of older houses in Toronto that have a half-inch main water pipe running from the road to the basement, rather than the new standard 3/4” water pipe, and the material used may be lead, which can be a health concern. Water service is split into two categories – City and Private. Homeowners are responsible for their part (the private part) of the water service, and you can then apply to have the city match your replacement on their end.
So what are the various reasons for replacing your main water pipe? Let’s take a look at the top four reasons why it’s beneficial for all homeowners residing in an older home to have Mister Plumber come in and take a look at the main water pipe.
Replacing Lead Pipes
As mentioned, some older pipes are made out of lead, since lead was widely used by plumbers in the past (in fact, the word “plumb” comes from the Latin word for lead!). The City of Toronto estimates that over 31,000 homes are still affected by lead pipes here, especially water service pipes that predate the mid-1950s and pipes soldered before the 90s.
The main issue with lead pipes doesn’t really concern their efficacy so much as their potential influence on health. Lead is considered harmful and cannot be used for potable water systems, especially for pregnant women and young children (which many homes consist of). If you live in an older home, the pipes may have started corroding and releasing lead into your drinking water, so be on the safe side – let Mister Plumber come in to check your main water pipe for lead and, if need be, replace old lead pipes with copper pipes.
Plumbing codes change over time and the new code states that one family dwelling must have a minimum 3/4” ID (inside diameter) water pipe from the water main. Another code states that the pipe from the water meter in the house that supplies the cold water inlet on your hot water tank must not be less than 3/4”. Boilers do not produce their own pressure and use cold water pressure from a source pipe, so old pipes have a negative effect on your water pressure (more on that below).
Mister Plumber uses modern equipment to upgrade a water service with a 3/4” or even a 1” pipe. Our method – called torpedo drilling – minimizes landscape disturbances because it only requires two points of access: in the basement near the existing main pipe and outside near property line. It’s a far less intrusive way of making your home up-to-code and we’ve have a number of positive reviews mentioning this.
For underground pipe installation, we always use type “K” copper, which is a soft temper copper and is specially designed to be used underground. The City of Toronto uses the same type of copper tubing, which is sold in long rolls and allows us to install the private section of your water supply without using any joints. Also, copper pipes are used by electricians for grounding, which is why using plastic pipe underground is not practical.
Improving Water Pressure
Whatever the material – whether it’s lead or copper – 1/2” pipes cannot supply sufficient water pressure to a home. Especially houses that have multiple washrooms, a washing machine, dishwasher, sprinklers, etc… they demand proper pressure from both the private and city pipes, and that can only be achieved with 3/4” or 1” pipes.
After you’ve successfully finished your water main service upgrades in Toronto you as a homeowner have right to get a bigger water meter from city – any meter has to be either the same size as pipe or smaller for accurate calculations. Our experience shows that, in some cases, it is enough to upgrade just the private portion of your water service to achieve better water pressure in your house, especially when multiple fixtures are in use.
Protecting Your Basement
Aside from improving your water pressure, removing any harmful lead presence in your water pipes and staying up-to-code to help the resale value of your home, there is one more benefit to replacing your main water pipe: you can protect your basement from flooding. A new pipe is much stronger than an old one and can withstand higher pressure, as well as any fluctuations that occur from time to time.
Burst pipes are no fun to deal with, and can have deleterious effects on your basement, so here it’s best to be proactive and have us come look at your pipes to determine their age and strength. It’s always a good idea to do this before the winter hits, since that’s when old pipes are uniquely susceptible to bursting.
The responsibility for the private part of your water system falls on you as a homeowner, and improving your main water pipe can remove health hazards, improve water pressure, improve your home’s resale value and help avoid costly damage to your basement. Call Mister Plumber today to inspect your water service and determine whether your pipes need replacing. It’s a relatively inexpensive endeavour and can end up saving you a big headache in the long run. You want the lifeblood of your house to be working in excellent condition, so give us a call today.