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BCC Ruling No. 16-01-1429

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Ruling No.: 16-01-1429
Application No.: B 2015-34

 

BUILDING CODE COMMISSION

IN THE MATTER OF Subsection 24(1) of the Building Code Act, S.O. 1992, c. 23, as amended.

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences 7.4.6.4.(1), 7.4.6.4.(2), 7.4.6.4.(3) and 7.4.6.4.(4) of Division B of Regulation 332/12, as amended, (the “Building Code”).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Robin Ramesar, Madonna Engineering Inc., for the resolution of a dispute with Ann Borooah, Chief Building Official, to determine whether the proposal to install a non-CSA listed “normally open” backwater valve or a backwater valve that is CSA listed but not “normally open” provides sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Sentences 7.4.6.4.(1), 7.4.6.4.(2), 7.4.6.4.(3) and 7.4.6.4.(4) of Division B of the Building Code at Labdara Lithuanian Nursing Home, 5 Resurrection Road, City of Toronto, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Robin Ramesar
Madonna Engineering Inc.
Woodbridge, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Ann Borooah
Chief Building Official
City of Toronto, Ontario

PANEL

Tony Chow, Chair
Yaman Uzumeri
Gary Birtch

PLACE

City of Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

November 5, 2015

DATE OF RULING

January 7, 2016

APPEARANCES

Robin Ramesar
Madonna Engineering Inc.
Woodbridge, Ontario
Applicant

Imran Esmail
Plumbing and Mechanical Plan Examiner
City of Toronto, Ontario
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

 

1. Particulars of Dispute

The Applicant has applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992, to renovate the building at Labdara Lithuanian Nursing Home, at 5 Resurrection Road, City of Toronto, Ontario.

The subject building is a 3 storey, Group B2 occupancy building, with a building area of 2023 m. The building is comprised of non-combustible construction and is equipped with a sprinkler system and fire alarm system.

The construction in dispute relates to the proposal to install a 6 inch, non-CSA listed "normally open" backwater valve or alternatively a backwater valve that is CSA listed but "normally closed" on the sanitary building drain located at the basement level of the subject building.

Article 7.4.6.4. specifies the requirements related to the protection from backflow. Sentence 7.4.6.1.(1) states that except as permitted in Sentence (2) a backwater valve that would prevent free circulation of air shall not be installed in a building drain or in a building sewer. Sentence (2) permits a backwater valve to be installed in a building provided that it is a "normally open" design that conforms to the applicable CSA standards listed in this Sentence. Further, Sentences (3) and (4) of this Article, outline where on a building drain or branch, a backwater valve may be installed.

The dispute before the Commission is whether the type of backwater valve being proposed and the location of its installation, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 7.4.6.4. of the Building Code.

2. Provisions of the Building Code in Dispute

7.4.6.4. Protection from Backflow
  1. (1) Except as permitted in Sentence (2), a backwater valve that would prevent free circulation of air shall not be installed in a building drain or in a building sewer.

  2. (2) A backwater valve may be installed in a building drain provided that,
    1. (a) it is a “normally open” design conforming to,
      1. (i) CAN/CSA-B70, “Cast Iron Soil Pipe, Fittings, and Means of Joining”,
      2. (ii) CAN/CSA-B181.1, “Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS) Drain, Waste, and Vent Pipe and Pipe Fittings”,
      3. (iii) CAN/CSA-B181.2, “Polyvinylchloride (PVC) and Chlorinated Polyvinylchloride (CPVC) Drain, Waste, and Vent Pipe and Pipe Fittings”, or
      4. (iv) CAN/CSA-B182.1, “Plastic Drain and Sewer Pipe and Pipe Fittings”, and
    2. (b) it does not serve more than one dwelling unit.

  3. (3) Except as provided in Sentences (4) and (5), where a building drain or a branch may be subject to backflow,
    1. (a) a backwater valve shall be installed on every fixture drain connected to it when the fixture is located below the level of the adjoining street, or
    2. (b) a backwater valve shall be installed to protect fixtures which are below the upstream sanitary manhole cover when a residential building is served by a public sanitary sewer.

  4. (4) Where more than one fixture is located on a storey and all are connected to the same branch, the backwater valve may be installed on the branch.

  5. (5) A subsoil drainage pipe that drains into a sanitary drainage system that is subject to surcharge shall be connected in such a manner that sewage cannot back up into the subsoil drainage pipe.

3. Applicant’s Position

The Agent for the Applicant submitted that the subject building is a nursing home that has experienced sanitary backflow into the basement level of the facility during high intensity rain events. The Agent explained that to prevent a sanitary backup in future, the Applicant is proposing to install a 6 inch backwater valve on the main sanitary drain leaving the basement level of the building.

The Agent submitted that the Article 7.4.6.4. of the Building Code requires that backwater valves installed in a building drain be of a "normally open" design. The Agent explained that the problem the Applicant has encountered is that there are no 6 inch CSA listed "normally open" backwater valves currently available on the market. As a result, the Agent advised that the Applicant is proposing to either install a 6 inch CSA listed "normally closed" backwater valve or alternatively a non CSA listed 6 inch valve that can be set to be "normally open" on the main sanitary drain.

The Agent submitted that other solutions considered included the installation of the readily available CSA listed 4 inch "normally open" backwater valves at all main riser locations and further, install backwater valves at all basement level floor drains. The Agent maintained that due to the number of fixtures and risers, both of these alternatives would be very costly and would not offer complete protection from backflow.

In response to questions, the Agent submitted that the installation of a backwater valve was not required but rather a voluntary upgrade by the Applicant to prevent future flooding and damage in the basement of the subject building. The Agent, in response to further questions, submitted that the non CSA listed "normally open" backwater valve is identical in construction to the CSA listed 4 inch "normally open" back water valve that is permitted by the Code.

Additionally, the Agent offered to have the 6 inch non CSA listed backwater valve inspected annually and to have the valve exercised twice a year.

In summary, the Agent submitted that a 6 inch non CSA listed "normally open" backwater valve would be the preferred option and his opinion, would provide the building the best protection.

4. Respondent’s Position

The Designate for the Respondent submitted that the Applicant applied for a permit in December 2014 proposing install a non CSA listed backwater valve that is "normally closed" but that could be modified to be "hung-open". The Designate advised that the Applicant was notified that the proposed backwater valve did not satisfy the Building Code requirements. The Designate explained that it was not until the time the application for hearing was submitted, that the City became aware of the Applicant’s alternative proposal to install a CSA listed "normally closed" backwater valve.

The Designate submitted that the purpose of a backwater valve is to prevent sewage from backing up into a building and that the areas affected within the building are where the lowest open drains are located, such as floor drains and shower drains located in the basement. The Designate argued that there is no need to protect risers or drains from "above" with backwater valves because of the high pressures that are required for debris or fluids to travel in the vertical.

The Designate explained that a "normally open" backwater valve is required on the main building sanitary line to allow for venting of the municipal sewer, and any gases that may be caused by positive or negative pressures in the sewer line, through the building. The Agent submitted that this design allows for an unobstructed gravity flow of sewage and automatic closure of the valve upon reversal of flow (sewer backup). The Designate further submitted that the "normally open" design of a backwater valve allows cleaning tools to pass through the body of the valve without getting hooked.

The Designate advised that the CSA Group is an independent, not for profit member based association dedicated to the advancing safety, sustainability and social good. Further, he maintained it is a provider of product testing and certification services for a multitude of products, which ensures that the products have been tested to Canadian standards.

The Designate explained that the building permit application was not approved based on the Applicant's selection of a backwater valve that is not a "normally open" type, nor is it CSA certified. The Designate maintained that modification of the proposed backwater valve is required in order for it to be "hung-open". The Designate argued that there is no proof that the proposed backwater valve will not fail, or obstruct flow or trap debris within the valve. The Designate further submitted that the Applicant's alternative proposal to install a CSA listed "normally closed" backwater valve, by virtue of its design, will prevent venting of the city sewer lines.

The Designate maintained that Article 7.4.6.4. of the Building Code clearly sets out the requirements for the installation of a backwater valve, and in his opinion neither of the Applicant's proposals, comply with the Code requirements. The Designate submitted that alternative methods for protecting a building from sewer back up are provided in Sentences (3) and (4) of the same Article.

In response to questions, the Designate agreed that the installation of a backwater valve in this building is not a requirement under the Code but rather a voluntary upgrade.

5. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposal to install a non-CSA listed “normally open” backwater valve provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 7.4.6.4.(2) of Division B of the Building Code at Labdara Lithuanian Nursing Home, 5 Resurrection Road, City of Toronto, Ontario on condition that:

a) The backwater valve is inspected annually and further, the backwater valve is exercised two times per year.

6. Reasons

  1. The parties agree that the Building Code does not require a backwater valve to be installed in the subject building. Further, the parties agree the installation of the backwater valve is a voluntary upgrade to prevent future flooding in the basement of the building.

  2. The Commission heard evidence and testimony that the construction of the proposed 15.24 cm (6 inch), non-CSA “normally open”, backwater valve is identical, in construction, to the CSA Listed 10.6 cm (4 inch) “normally open” backwater valve, permitted by the Building Code.

  3. It is the Commission’s opinion that should the proposed “normally open” backwater valve fail during a flooding incident, the negative impact on the building will not be greater than if the backwater valve had not been installed.

Dated at the City of Toronto this 7th day in the month of January in the year 2016 for application number B 2015-34.

Tony Chow, Chair

Yaman Uzumeri

Gary Burtch