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Thread: Pipe without U-Bend - Smell driving us nuts !

  1. #1

    Unhappy Pipe without U-Bend - Smell driving us nuts !

    We (my wife and I) have shifted into this new flat in an apartment that has 10 floors. The flat is our own.

    We are on the 5th floor.

    Much to our dreaded surprise, we found that one side of the entire apartment has no U-Bend on the sewer pipes that run outside the building.

    This causes the gas from the pipes to fill our homes up with an awful smell during which I cannot use the bathroom. (The smell is so bad)
    I don't know if the smell emenates from the top floors or the floors below.

    Kindly note that the outside sewer pipes are completely sealed off (from repairs of any kind with a huge cement casing that runs up the entire 10 floors) thus making repairs or fixation of the U-bends kind of impossible for the time being.

    I know it's a huge health hazard but it's a lot of concern since we can't invite anyone into our house for these embarrassing reasons

    Being a responsible flat owner I have notified the other people in the apartment who also face the same problem.

    The only remedy they have found is:

    1) Increase the length of the pipe on the terrace so that the gas escapes higher up into the air.
    2) A caretaker (janitor if you will,) pours phenoyle down the pipe once the smell starts bothering the neighbours.

    I have read some home remedies that state the usage of bleaching powder and vinegar by pouring it down the pipes. But I am looking for a somewhat permanent solution if possible.

    If anyone here can help me out, I would be extremely grateful.

  2. #2
    Plunger/TurdPuncher kingsotall's Avatar
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    You're screwed. My advice: move.
    Sorry to be so blunt.
    I just post cuz I like to see my avatar.

  3. #3

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    Did you buy this from a Real Estate office? Is it a condo? Or are you renting?
    If you are renting you could consider calling your local health dept, and with holding your rent until, they fix the problem, but that might end up in a big mess for you. If you bought it, you might have other recourses depending on some factors.
    Last edited by Cookie; 06-02-2009 at 09:54 PM.

  4. #4

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    Thanks for your replies. It is our own not rented so we can't move.

    Which is why seeking the help of you fine people

    We are in India so the local health department would plausibly react after a good 3 months of pondering.

    If any of you were in my place, what kind of remedy would you have adopted ? If not permanent, then temporary?

  5. #5

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    Wow, I don't know anything about India, I am sorry. I might if I were you, contact the people who sold it to me, especially if it was a business and not a private sale; or, maybe, a lawyer if necessary. I don't know if this applies for you but did you have an home inspection done? It might matter too, how long ago you bought it. I am sorry, I can't think of anything else, other than, and I imagine you already had plumbers there looking and advising.

    Maybe, one thing. What if you collectively with all the owners discussed maybe, having the work done, each paying an equal sum of money to get it fixed. Just an idea.

    I am sorry that I can't be of any other help.
    Last edited by Cookie; 06-02-2009 at 10:09 PM.

  6. #6

    Red face

    Quote Originally Posted by Cookie View Post
    Maybe, one thing. What if you collectively with all the owners discussed maybe, having the work done, each paying an equal sum of money to get it fixed. Just an idea.
    Yes my friend. That is what we have planned to do. Convincing people to cough up money is the problem.

    What I wished to ask is:

    1) What is the one most important thing that can move about 20 flat owners to get the ball rolling? Health? Children's health? Bacteria?

    I mean what is the worst that can happen if people continue to live like this?

    2) Something off the top of my head is: What if we put a small exhaust fan right on the top of the pipe facing the sky? Would that help?

    3) Any temporary solutions that my wife and I can use for the time being?

    And ... LOL ! You don't have to know anything about India. Sh** smells the same everywhere... (just kidding).

  7. #7
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    In the United States, plumbing in tall buildings will look more like this.
    Every fixture getting a p-trap, that is vented to prevent the water from siphoning from the traps.
    If your building was built without traps, that could be the reason for the smell.
    The vents should go through the roof, and not be near windows.

  8. #8

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    Thank you Terry for the diagram. Yes, one side of the building is built without traps and we are aware that is the reason for the smell.

    But it still does not answer my question of a temporary work-around.

  9. #9
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Extending the vent higher doesn't do anything for the units inside the building.

    You may be better off with something that eats the goo in the pipe, it may help with the smell.
    There are several brands that do this.
    Bio-Clean is one I've used.

    http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5305


    They may sell something in India for that too.
    http://terrylove.biz/home/75-bio-cle...n-cleaner.html

    SAFE
    Bio-Clean is non-poisonous. It creates no heat, no fumes, no boiling. It does not attack live tissue nor inorganic materials, only organic wastes like grease, hair, food particles, paper, cotton & sewage. This makes BIO-CLEAN safe for people, plumbing and the environment. BIO-CLEAN changes the waste particles into water, carbon dioxide and mineral ash which run harmlessly out of your waste system. These elements are then available for plant life.

    EFFECTIVE
    Within an hour after pouring the bacteria into the drain, the bacteria begin to eat their way into the waste that has accumulated on the sides and top of the drain pipe. This is their natural food. They digest the waste and spread throughout your system, cleaning it completely.
    Last edited by Terry; 01-14-2014 at 06:30 PM.

  10. #10

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    Thank you Terry They don't have it available on **** in India, however I'd try to get some from **** US provided they agree to ship it here.

    Terry, in your vast experience are their any home remedies that we can use immediately?

    Does the vinegar, bleaching powder theory really work? I read somewhere that the compound solidifies when in contact with each other. So I don't want to mess with the pipes of an already messed up system.

    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

  11. #11
    Plumbing Designer FloridaOrange's Avatar
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    I think the only real remedy is to put traps in at the fixtures. The gas is coming up from the sewer, can you realistically put enough chemicals in to clean the whole sewer system. Maybe a building trap or even a running or drum trap would work for you, I understand it's not easily accessible (and not legal in the US) but that would cut the sewer smells down to the sewer only serving your plumbing stack.

    Can you get an estimate from a construction company? It may be more affordable than you think.
    Matt
    Semi-professional plumbing designer
    Enjoying life in SW Florida

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by jojo1000 View Post
    Yes my friend. That is what we have planned to do. Convincing people to cough up money is the problem.

    What I wished to ask is:

    1) What is the one most important thing that can move about 20 flat owners to get the ball rolling? Health? Children's health? Bacteria?

    I mean what is the worst that can happen if people continue to live like this?

    2) Something off the top of my head is: What if we put a small exhaust fan right on the top of the pipe facing the sky? Would that help?

    3) Any temporary solutions that my wife and I can use for the time being?

    And ... LOL ! You don't have to know anything about India. Sh** smells the same everywhere... (just kidding).
    Even if you have to wait 3 months, it might be worth it to contact the health dept.. I don't know for sure, but I would imagine this could make people sick. I think the 2 hardest things in this world, are either making people part with their money, like you said, or get people to care about health issues.

    It is really sad but so many times, it pretty much has to bite someone on their posterior for them to realize this can happen to them, it is human nature in a way for people to think, it would only happen to the next guy. Because of that kind of reasoning, people sloth things off. That is what makes it difficult. Or they will ridicule possible health issues or causes. They pretty much just have to get sick to understand or their kids will, then a ball will start rolling.

    Besides getting people to part with their money the next hardest thing is to get people to care. ( to give a sh..t. lol.) You are going to have to do both.
    You could try to educate them on the health issues, but be ready to be laughed at or even be greeted with anger. Most of the times people aren't going to want to hear what you have to say.

    I commend you for trying.
    Last edited by Cookie; 06-03-2009 at 06:34 AM.

  13. #13
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    From your description, your diagnosis may be faulty. A main line trap would keep odors out of the PIPING, but it they should not be able to escape from the piping into your area if the rest of the plumbing was correct. We have MILLIONS of homes here which do not have the main line trap you seem to be referring to, and NONE have that problem unless they also have some other defect. YOU have to determine HOW the odors are getting into your apartment and correct that, not spend time and money on eliminating the symptoms.

  14. #14
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    YOU have to determine HOW the odors are getting into your apartment and correct that, not spend time and money on eliminating the symptoms. hj


    hj is correct, if the plumbing had individual traps, there would be no odors.
    Where I plumb, there is no trap for the building.
    That would only prevent air from the street sewer, but then you would still have whatever is in the building.
    We may have what's called an indirect drain, but those are limited to less then five feet. The reason being that too much pipe unvented equals too much smell.

    The only reason I was looking at the symptoms, is that without tearing into walls, it may give some relief.

    I was reading a story about open latrines in Africa, when they filled up, they would cover them over and dig new ones.
    Using the blend of bacteria and enzyme treatments, they were able to reduce odor and continue to use the same pits.
    The stuff is so safe you could eat it, but it does work to clean the insides of pipes.
    Last edited by Terry; 06-03-2009 at 09:31 AM.

  15. #15
    DIY Senior Member gardner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jojo1000 View Post
    apartment that has 10 floors
    We are on the 5th floor.

    one side of the entire apartment has no U-Bend
    Can you clarify what this means? Are you saying that none of the fixtures on one side of the floor have traps?

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo1000 View Post
    Kindly note that the outside sewer pipes are completely sealed off (from repairs of any kind with a huge cement casing that runs up the entire 10 floors) thus making repairs or fixation of the U-bends kind of impossible for the time being.

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo1000 View Post
    1) Increase the length of the pipe on the terrace so that the gas escapes higher up into the air.
    2) A caretaker (janitor if you will,) pours phenoyle down the pipe once the smell starts bothering the neighbours.
    I don't understand option 1. I thought the main piping was continuous from the bottom to the 10th storey. Where is the pipe open to the air to let the sewer gas escape?

    Option 2 is not an option. Freshening the pipe with any sort of cleaner will not help. The pipe is connected to the sewer and gas will come back through it no matter what you put down.

    If the problem is just that traps are missing from your fixtures, then they can likely be added. What sort of WC do you have? Is it possible that someone has removed one that had an integral trap and replaced it with a squat style that does not have a trap built in -- or something of that sort?

    If you are able to establish one or more specific locations where the smell is coming from, you might try taking photographs and reposting. Someone may recognise the situation and be able to explain better how to deal with it.

    Folks here are mainly based in North America, so Asian plumbing practices will be a little out of our usual range.

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