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Thread: Toilet Gurgles in Apartment Complex

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  1. #1

    Default Toilet Gurgles in Apartment Complex

    This is a little long, but PLEASE, I need some advice.

    So we live in a 3 story apartment complex.
    Ever since we moved in, one of our bathroom toilets periodically gurgles.
    When it does, the water level goes down. During this time, if you try to flush the toilet, the water just backs up in the bowl.
    It will eventually slowly go down or sometimes flush very suddenly.
    About 2 months ago our toilet started spewing sewage into our bathroom.
    I also had sewage coming out of the sink and bathtub!!
    I finally was able to stop it by plugging up the toilet, but not before I had about an inch of sewage water in my bathroom.
    The complex had to replace carpets and send professional cleaners out.
    They claimed that since we were on the first floor, there must have been a clog somewhere and we were the unlucky ones since we are on the first floor.
    Well, the problem still persists. The toilet gurgles every couple of days.
    I'm afraid to leave my apartment!!
    Whenever I do, I plug up the toilet just in case. The apartment complex says there is nothing wrong as their maintenance crew cannot find a clog anywhere.
    Is something wrong with the plumbing? The building is only 4 years old and rather new. Perhaps something was connected wrong?
    Should sewage have spilled out of the sink and bathtub?
    I do not have any problems with my other toilet and it has never gurgled.
    What should I do?

    Edit:
    I remembered some more details. I can sometimes hear water going through the walls. I assume that one of the neighbors upstairs flushed the toilet or released some bath water. This is another time when the toilet will gurgle. Also, during my toilet sewage spill, the water was warm? As if somebody released some bath water and that was the reason for the backup?
    Still, don't apartments have recourse for this, like a one-way valve (if one exists? I'm no plumber so I wouldn't know)
    Last edited by scoobydo; 10-29-2006 at 02:40 PM.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    To me, it appears that there is a partial blockage. It allows things to go down except when there is a large volume of water, such as when someone is doing a load of wash, or emptying a bathtub, then, because of the volume it can't all go down fast enough, and it backs up at the lowest point - your apartment.

    The alternatives to this are that the pipes weren't sized properly, and they just can't handle the volume of all of the fixtures, and it just backs up.

    The gurgles could be that the vents are not designed properly, or are plugged up.

    One of the pros will eventually critique my thoughts!
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3

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    Another detail I just remembered:
    On the night of the sewage backup, my wife recalls hearing the upstairs neighbor flushing the toilet like 20 times she says.
    The upstairs neighbor has like 5 cats.
    During the sewage backup, as I was waddling in the nasty sewage, I noticed that some of the "pieces" looked similar to cat feces.
    Could the people upstairs have had the stupid idea of flushing cat liter down the toilet? If so, what kind of damage or blockage could that have caused?
    I say this to try to find an answer, but the gurgling problem was there even before they moved in.
    I have no proof they did this, I am just trying to remember all the details.

    Also, the apartment complex has underground parking. All the pipes for the complex are clearly visable on the ceiling of the parking structure.
    During the backup, I went downstairs to the parking garage and saw water dripping from the pipes directly underneath our apartment causing a large pool on the floor.

    I really don't think the blockage is in our apartment as we were the very first tenants to this apartment (as I mentioned it was newly built).
    We rarely use this bathroom as it is our second bathroom.
    Should I have them call out a professional plumber or the contractor themselves to check things out?

  4. #4
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    I'd move. .

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey
    I'd move. .
    Why do you say that? Is the problem not fixable?

  6. #6
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    Get someone to Snake out that portion of the darned sewer.

    You have a sewer obstruction or plug. It's only going to get worse.........

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by plumber1
    Get someone to Snake out that portion of the darned sewer.

    You have a sewer obstruction or plug. It's only going to get worse.........
    Would they do that from my apartment, or underneath where all the pipes are at?

  8. #8
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey
    I'd move...
    While that was a tongue-in-cheek remark, unless your apartment management is unusually attentive and competent this could be a long slog to get fixed. At the minimum, document the hell out of everything (times, dates, pictures, correspondence) so that you will have good grounds to break the lease if it comes to that.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey
    While that was a tongue-in-cheek remark, unless your apartment management is unusually attentive and competent this could be a long slog to get fixed. At the minimum, document the hell out of everything (times, dates, pictures, correspondence) so that you will have good grounds to break the lease if it comes to that.
    Well, this is pretty upscale place and management is pretty attentive.
    They have been really attentive to this issue since it happened.
    So again, what should my recourse be? Should professional plumbers come to my unit or should they be looking at the pipes under the building?

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member Mike50's Avatar
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    Most Cat litter is clay based. With 5 cats you are talking about 40 pounds of clumping litter per month.

    If you don't see cat litter in the main trash receptacle eventually----they are flushing it. Pretty hard to not find or smell that much litter (cat urine=ammonia).

    "Flushable Litter" is a big selling point for some major brands. (arm and Hammer)

    I am Not a plumber nor do I play one on TV.


    Mike

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