The City’s old houses are quaint and picturesque, but they can be a nightmare for plumbers in Toronto. The old-fashioned fixtures and fittings are often very hardy and have lasted well beyond their intended lifespans. That’s good, you might think, but it’s not necessarily. Modern building codes require plumbers in Toronto to implement certain standards, and homes that still contain the original water pipes and drains cause headaches for many homeowners. Building trap replacement is one of the essential tasks for the owners of these homes, because the existence of traps is a major problem.

What is a Building Trap?

The building trap is a U-bend clay pipe that builders would install on the exterior sewer line of houses built before the use of modern plumbing fittings. The purpose of the trap was to stop odorous gases entering the home from the sewer, and it worked by “trapping” a small amount of water in the bend – just like the S-bend under your kitchen sink does. You can check whether your home has a building trap by searching in your front garden for a cast iron “cap” in the shape of a mushroom. It’s usually located on a pipe close to the surface.

Why You Need to Remove It

Building traps cause a range of plumbing problems for Toronto homeowners, such as

  • Blocked drains, caused by the accumulation of waste in the bends of the trap. Because the trap essential consists of two 90-degree elbows, it’s not possible to clear it with modern plumbing equipment.
  • Sewer leaks, caused by cracks in the clay pipe that the U-bend is made from. This allows sewer water to leach out into the surrounding soil, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and odours.
  • Root infestation, which happens when tree roots detect the presence of water within the clay pipe and penetrate to access it. This causes a catchment area for loose debris, which eventually clogs the entire drain.

Modern building codes prohibit the use of building traps, which are no longer available. This means that any renovation of your Toronto home needs to include a building trap replacement.

Replacing the Trap

If you find your property has a building trap, check to see whether it’s inside or outside your foundations. Exterior building traps are typically removed by excavating near to the foundation, which is usually fairly simple. Interior traps, however, require lifting of the basement floor. When plumbers in Toronto remove building traps, they typically replace them with two-way cleanout that provides access to both directions of the drain. If necessary, they also install a backflow prevention valve to help prevent the sewer from backing up into the home.

If your home is built prior to 1970, contact your local plumber and get an assessment of whether you have a building trap that needs replacement. It costs much less to replace it before you experience problems than it will when you have extensive damages to repair and clean-up costs to add to the process.