The issue of mandatory downspout disconnection has given rise to a scam currently operating in Toronto. Scammers are knocking on doors and using high-pressure sales tactics to “sell” residents their disconnection services, on the pretext that they are not in compliance with the change in the law. The City has recently issued a statement that says only City by-law officers are authorized to identify a property for non-compliance, and that homeowners should call 311 and report any callers trying to do so. To help you clear up any confusion, we’ve provided the skinny on the mandatory downspout disconnection project.

Project Phases

Since late last year, Toronto residents are required by law to begin having their downspouts disconnected from the municipal sewers. The three-phase roll-out began with centrally-located properties, which typically have stormwater and sanitary drainage combined in a single pipe. These properties had to perform their downspout disconnection from the sewer system by 20 November 2011.

Phase two of the project requires homeowners in the areas currently studied for the basement flooding to disconnect by 3 December 2013. These areas include the suburbs between Bayview Avenue and Victoria Park Avenue, from the lakeshore in the south to just north of the Danforth. Check the City’s map for exact boundaries. All other areas within the City borders must perform downspout disconnection by 3 December 2016. Many residents don’t know their rights and responsibilities and are falling prey to scammers who tell them it must be done immediately.

Benefits of Downspout Disconnection

Whether you do it now or later, there are a number of benefits associated with downspout disconnection. The main advantage is that it reduces the quantity of rainwater in the sewers, lowering the risk of wastewater backing up and causing basement flooding. Homeowners in Toronto have been contending with this issue and all the costs associated with it for years. It also helps to avoid polluted rainwater from entering the City’s waterways, which keeps them clean and sanitary to protect the environment and keeps rainwater in your garden to benefit your plants.

Performing the Disconnection

You can hire a City-licensed plumber to perform your downspout disconnection, or you can do it yourself if you have the right tools and expertise. DIY handymen can find full information on the equipment needed and step-by-step instructions on the City of Toronto’s Mandatory Downspout Disconnection Do-it-yourself instructions site. If you are eligible for financial assistance and choose to do the job yourself, you will need to supply receipts for your purchases of equipment and materials used in the process.

Special Exemption

In some cases, performing the downspout disconnection isn’t technically feasible, or it could be harmful in some way to the property and the occupants. Your local plumber will be able to tell you if your situation is one that warrants applying for a special exemption, or whether you can achieve the same result by other methods. Some ways of resolving the problem include relocating downspouts, regarding eavestroughs, and correcting the grading or slope of the ground on your property. If yours is a clear case of eligibility for exemption, the plumbing company can also help you with your application.

Financial Assistance

You can apply for up to $500 in financial assistance from the City to help with the costs of the downspout disconnection on your property. Provided your property lies within the City limits and your total household income is less than $50,000 a year, you are eligible for the assistance. The program also applies to seniors and anyone receiving old age or disability benefits, and your plumbing company can help you with the application.

The earlier you attend to having your downspouts checked out for disconnection or relocation, the sooner you can reduce your risk of basement flooding. Contact your local plumber today for a free consultation to discuss your downspout disconnection requirements, and report any scammers who try and exert high-pressure sales tactics on you.

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  • […] Downspout disconnection has been proved to show results. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation believes that the average disconnection results in diverting around 100,000 litres of water away from the sewers each year. […]