Plumbing pipes in Residential homes built before the 1950's were commonly made of lead, a
soft metal that is harmful to your health, especially children, according to the EPA and the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lead was also used to solder pipes
together before 1990, and can be found in leaded-brass fixtures, such as faucets and
valves. While passing through these pipes and fixtures, lead can be added to drinking water.
In 2011, Toronto City Council approved the Lead in Drinking Water Mitigation Strategy, a
multi-pronged approach aimed at minimizing the occurrence of lead in tap water.
Components of this strategy with links to learn more can be found below.
How do you know if you have lead pipes. If your house was built before 1950. Check the pipe
which goes to the water meter If it is grey and scratches easily and does not sound hollow
when you tap it, it may be lead. The City of Toronto also has Free Lead Testing Kits to see if
your water contains lead. I recommend you use a licensed plumber to be conclusive.
What do you do if you have lead pipes. There are several things you can do, such as, let the
water run of a while, use cold water etc. But replacement of the pipe on the city side and the
house side is recommended
Toronto has a Priority Lead Water Service Replacement Program where if your committed to
replacing your portion of the pipe you can apply to have your pipes changed. The program
will give you a couple of options, make sure you read it completely.
Toronto also has a Capital Water Service Replacement Program were the city replaces
substandard pipes during planned construction projects, such as road, sewer and water main
work. Here you can look up your street and see if the pipes were changed, they also
recommend you call 311 for a record search.
Toronto also has a Free Faucet Filter replacement rebate program. Click on the red
highlighted link and then scroll down to the "How the City is Managing Lead and Drinking
Water and then scroll down to the Faucet Filter Program.
If you live outside of Toronto and your home was built before 1950's or approx. Then I would
suggest you call your municipality's office and inquire if they have any type of program to
replace the lead pipe, if you have lead pipes. Call a licensed plumber to be conclusive.
Galvanized Pipes were used in Toronto up to the late 1950's. They were long lasting and
relatively inexpensive. Galvanized pipes are steel pipes which have a zinc coating. As time
passed this zinc coating would slowly erode exposing the steel which eventually leads to
rusting of the pipe.
The typical lifespan of the galvanized pipe is approximately 50 years. The majority of the
piping in Toronto is already at or past the typical life expectancy. Galvanized piping has a
tendency to rust from the inside out. Which can also cause weak structural properties
causing leaks and collapses. These pipes can also become clogged with calcium deposits
which results in low water pressure and rusty water.
Check with your insurance company as to their policy on galvanized piping.
To find a plumber or other compulsary trades person you can visit our web page with
contractor contact info General House Info - Contractors.
Tankless water heaters also called Instantaneous or Demand Water Heaters, provide hot water
only as it is needed. Traditional storage water heaters produce standby energy losses that cost
you money. We do not leave our homes heated while vacationing. We only heat our homes
when there is a demand for heat. In the same way, a Tankless Water Heater is used only when
there is a demand for hot water.
As an inspector I do come across tankless water heaters and I don't have a stand for or against
them. I can tell you that some people have complained to me about the lack of hot water in large
homes with several washrooms, especially when multiple sinks or showers were being used at
the same time. I recommend that you have your home and specific needs properly sized to
determine the appropriate unit or units.
Here is a site which has some good information. The information should only be used as a
guide. I recommend to consult with a local tankless water heater specialist who is appropriately
licensed and make sure you ask about warranty and maintenance.
Pressure Balanced Valves are those ones which have a single handle for the shower control, they
generally sense changes in hot or cold water pressure (such as a toilet being flushed or a cold water
tap being turned on) and compensate the temperature fluctuation by reducing the hot or cold water
pressure to provide a constant temperature. The water pressure or flow at the shower head will
reduce. You can see examples on Home Depots website.
Thermostatic Mixing Valves have two handles, one to control the flow or pressure and the other to
control the temperature. You can change the flow or volume of water without changing the
temperature. With the thermostatic mixing valve your hot water tank temperature can be set to a
higher temperature to help control bacterial contamination (Legionnaires' disease) meanwhile the
temperature at the shower head is at a lower temperature. You can see examples on Home Depots
You can purchase a thermostatic mixing valve for an individual fixture such as a shower or sink or you
can purchase a whole house valve which connects at the top of the hot water tank. The thermostatic
mixing valves are more expensive then a pressure balancing valve and in all cases a licensed
plumber should be consulted to identify the right valve for your situation.
If you have low water pressure at your shower head it may be caused by the shower head or the
bathroom plumbing. You can try to clean the shower head or you can purchase a high pressure
shower head.A high pressure shower head is designed to deliver higher water pressure with the
same amount of water flow.
This is achieved through either adjustable spray settings or a pressure chamber design. Adjustable
spray settings simply condense your shower head spray for a smaller but stronger shower. A
pressure chamber works by adding air and pressure to the shower water, forcing the water out at
Bathroom Piping Restricted/Undersized
If you generally have low water pressure in your house, which can be more common in older areas of
the city, it may be caused by the Municipalities water supply and or the piping in your house such as
the diameter of the pipe or type of pipe such as Galvanized piping, see above. You should consult
with a licensed plumber to review your options.
Does the water pressure and/or the temperature of the water change when you are taking a shower
and somebody flushes a toilet or turns on a dishwasher?
The reason could be one or more of the following:
You have a pressure-balancing mixing shower valve and need to switch to a thermostatic mixing valve.
Your bathroom piping is restricted.
Your bathroom piping is undersized.
Pressure - Balanced Mixing Valve
Thermostatic Mixing Valve
Galvanized pipe cut open
Lead pipe before the meter