Modern plumbing technology, while bringing us convenient new options such as trenchless plumbing repairs, has also brought us the cross bore problem. A cross bore is where underground utilities intersect, causing the integrity of the utilities or the underground structures to be compromised as a result. This happened recently to a woman in Minnesota, who lost her home in an explosion that occurred when her local plumber hit a gas line while unblocking a drain using a snake. Cross bores can be prevented, however, using these methods recommended by Ontario’s Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA):
1. Follow the Rules
Ontario has specific rules that apply to homeowners doing plumbing repairs or installation. The first rule is to call for a natural gas safety inspection, which you can do by phoning Ontario One Call at 1-800-400-2255. The department has officers on duty 24/7 and there’s no charge for the inspection. Before you do anything—even clearing a blocked sewer line outside your perimeter wall—call the number and provide your location, contact information and a time for an onsite meeting.
2. Use a Camera
Camera inspections are a popular method of preventing the risks associated with cutting a gas line during plumbing work. Reports show that cross bores exist in numbers of between 2 and 3 per mile of sewers inspected by the authorities. Some of these are homes while others are hospitals and schools, and each is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off the next time the building has a plugged sewer. By entering the sewer lines with a camera with a radio frequency attached, both a view of the interior as well as the location and depth of cross bores can be found without risk.
3. Conduct Post-Installation Inspections
Whether you do a camera inspection before attempting plumbing repairs or not it’s advisable to get an inspection after the fact, according to the TSSA. This enables the City to update the records on your property, which can be a valuable way to reduce costs the next time you have work that needs to be done. While companies such as Enbridge Gas are reporting that more homeowners are agreeing to these inspections, the biggest challenge to improving record-keeping and safety is still the difficulty associated with getting their agreement.
4. Call a Plumber
The best way to ensure hassle-free plumbing repairs is to call a qualified plumber in Toronto to handle them. Your local contractor is familiar with the City’s rules and regulations and knows the risk presented by the maze of pipes underground. He will be able to perform the necessary inspections, check the City’s records and avoid any cross bores that exist under your home.
Don’t take any chances – let the professionals do the job and eliminate the risk of expensive damages that could result.