All houses in Toronto built prior to 1985 have vitrified clay underground drain pipes. In some areas, houses have two drain systems – sanitary and storm – while most have only the one sanitary system.
All plumbing fixtures in a house that transport waste – human and other – are connected to the sanitary sewage system. Sanitary sewage should be properly treated at treatment plants since it contains numerous impurities and bacteria. The standard size of the sanitary sewage pipe is 4 inches and in most cases this pipe is installed under concrete floor in the basement. Within a house, these sanitary sewage pipes are considered drain pipes, while those outside the house (but still connected) are classified as sewer pipes.
From 1985, plumbers began to use specially designed plastic PVC pipes. Clay pipes were once a viable option, but now the City of Toronto has many houses over 80 years old that feature an old and outdated clay sewage system – these clay pipes have naturally suffered deterioration and destruction due to old age, and this fact compromises their integrity and effectiveness. When old clay pipes break, which is common, soil enters and/or heavy pieces fall into the line, promoting the collection of debris, all of which slows down drainage and eventually creates blockages and backups. Also, tree roots easily find their way into these cracks and breakages, speeding up the deterioration process of these clay pipes and making the breaks even larger. Another natural disadvantage of a clay drain/sewer line is the large number of joints as compared to PVC; these many connections compromise the strength of the pipe and naturally invite those tree roots to break them up. Plastic PVC pipes are infinitely more effective and reliable because they feature longer unified lengths and have fewer, more secure joints.
Also, many houses in Toronto still have building traps, which are a U-bend clay pipe that was installed outside the house and its purpose was to prevent sewer gases from coming into the house. According to the new plumbing codes, every plumbing fixture in the house must have own trap, like the one you can see under the kitchen sink ; furthermore, double trapping is prohibited. Consequently, those 4” clay traps are now useless. Moreover, old building traps cause 9 out of 10 sewer backups in Toronto. If you are homeowner and would like to find out whether your house has a building trap, just check your front yard for a cast iron mushroom cap on a pipe close to the surface – this is the vent that is installed upstream from the building trap.
It is very important to check all the underground drain pipes that are part of your house’s sanitary sewage system with a camera and/or a scope.
Mister Plumber offers full underground drain camera inspection, with DVD recording option available. If your house has outdoor clay sewer pipes, it is highly recommended to install two clean-outs outside: one clean-out should be connected to the city line to the city and the other to your house. Very often, when there are no clean-outs and there is a major drain issue on the city side, city workers from the Toronto Sewer Department refuse to fix the problem – their excuse is that they do not have access. Call Mister Plumber and talk to our licensed plumbers about installing of drain clean-outs outside of your house. Also, in many cases, it is possible to combine installation of two clean-outs with backwater valve that helps prevent basement floods. There is a rebate program for Toronto homeowners, so eventual expense could be reduced by almost $1250. There are a few types of backwater valves that are approved by City of Toronto for rebate. Our plumbers can determine what type is best according to the drain pipe slope
Another requirement of the new plumbing codes is that every house must have a floor drain in the furnace room. You may not see sewage backup in a furnace room because all contaminated waste water comes to the weeping tiles around the house and gradually gets distributed around the house consequently, an incredibly bad smell may result in the basement
Signs that your main underground drain has some issues:
- Water buildup around the floor drain
- Bad toilet flushing in the basement
- Bubbling in a bathtub after flushing
- sewer smell in the basement
- sewage backup in shower after toilet flushing
Many people think that a simple drain snake might resolve all their problems. Snaking only helps when the pipe is not broken and blockage happens as a result of an obstruction that has fallen in.
If you are looking for a permanent solution to your drain issue, you musty inspect with a camera in order to discover the cause of the problem.
Do not hesitate to call Mister Plumber and talk about your drain concerns, especially if they constitute an emergency.
Mister Plumber is a Toronto plumbing contractor with an outstanding reputation, offering a wide range of plumbing & drain services (main drain snake, camera inspection, partial and full replacement of underground building drain and sewer, no-digging pipe repair, installation of both outside and inside backwater valves, building trap removal and clean-out installation, floor drain repair, renovating drains with ” no slope” or wrong slope, code violation detecting, inspection of newly installed underground drain and much more).