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Thread: Toilet Gurgles in Apartment Complex

  1. #16

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    In the last apartment complex I managed, we had a similar problem in one of our buildings. It was an ongoing issue, because one of the main drain lines had partially collapsed. We couldn't fix the problem without moving everyone out of the building, so we had a licensed plumber come out and snake the line every three weeks ad infinitum. We never had a backup again in that building.

    I think your management needs to try this preventive maintenance approach. Maybe start off snaking the line every 2 months and see if the gurgling stops.

  2. #17
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    Dig the damn thing up.......dig it up.

  3. #18
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Odd that you only see the problem in one bathroom. Is that one close to the main stack, perhaps, and the master bath further away? It sounds like waste from upstairs is encountering a clog downstream from your unit, and backing up. The branch line to the affected bath is short enough that the backup overflows through the fixtures, whereas the master bath is far enough away that the backup just fills the waste line to the MB, without overflowing. That's a guess, which you're welcome to disregard... in any case, a description of your waste line topology would be welcome. As I understand it, you're on the bottom floor, so you can see all your pipes in the garage ceiling? They shouldn't be dripping, BTW -- all waste should be contained in the pipes, unless there's an overflow finding its way down to the garage, or there's a leak in the system somewhere.

  4. #19
    DIY Senior Member Mike50's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by molo
    I'm guessing the owners/managers might have suggested that you get "renters insurance". And this is what I would reccomend. Many leases contain items explaining that the owners have liabilty insurance for damage to the structure, but not for the occupants possesions. This is why I would reccomend a renters or tenants insurance policy. They are cheap. $70-100 a yr. and your possesions will be covered in the event of another backup, or waterleak, or anything that has happened in the building that you aren't responsible for...{...}
    Molo
    When I rented I usually carried a renters/liability policy. Mine also covered
    general liability which is great in case someone sues you for bodily injury.
    It also covered the contents of your car. (clothing, CD's etc.)
    I paid around 120 per year--but that was 20 years ago. Not sure if we are talking about the same coverage.


    Also Scooby--you are in pretty good shape legally no matter what happens.
    The 100 dollar offer is an admission of Liability.
    and Yea-bay area rent is actually worse than Beverly Hills.

    Mike
    Last edited by Mike50; 10-30-2006 at 08:16 AM.

  5. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by plumber1
    Dig the damn thing up.......dig it up.
    If you're referring to my post, the bad section of pipe was under one of the main structural walls of the building. This building houses 36 apartments on three floors. The solution required moving everyone out of the building for who knows how long, jacking up the whole side of the building, if that is even possible, etc. etc.

    The cost would have been tens of thousands of dollars not including lost rent and damage to the building. The plumber was charging $90 to snake out the building every three weeks from the cleanout in the laundry room to the street. That's about $1600/yr. If you do the math, it was infinitely cheaper that way.

  6. #21
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    I remember the time when one of the contractors got mad at the plumber and put a 2x4 in the sewer and the building backed up all the time. You can't snake that out, but they had to break floor and repair it.

  7. #22

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    So They came out to look at my toilet. They went downstairs and opened the pipes to my toilet all the way to the huge main line and found no clog or problem at all.
    I enclosed pictures of the setup underneath.
    The main line (not pictured) looks huge (About 10 inches in diameter) so i assume the clog happened before that.
    Like I said he opened up the lines (pictured) at both ends and could actually see no clog. He also opened up the lines at my Toilet & Sink and found nothing?
    So why on earth is this toilet gurgling?
    Is there another reason for gurgling other than a clog?
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  8. #23
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Others may know the secret, but it's not terribly obvious to me that there are any vents in that mess of pipes. I'm also not crazy about the circuitous route things take to get to the main drain, especially that 135-degree turn. If you imagine lots of waste from upstairs coming into pic #1's area, it looks like it'd be just as easy to get to your toilet as it is to get to the main drain -- easier, in fact, in spite of the slope. I'd ask them to route your drain directly to the main and isolate your mess of pipes from the upstairs mess of pipes. Finally, when he said he opened up the lines "at both ends", could you maybe show us in the pics exactly where he looked?
    Last edited by Mikey; 11-08-2006 at 02:29 AM.

  9. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey
    Others may know the secret, but it's not terribly obvious to me that there are any vents in that mess of pipes. I'm also not crazy about the circuitous route things take to get to the main drain, especially that 135-degree turn. If you imagine lots of waste from upstairs coming into pic #1's area, it looks like it'd be just as easy to get to your toilet as it is to get to the main drain -- easier, in fact, in spite of the slope. I'd ask them to route your drain directly to the main and isolate your mess of pipes from the upstairs mess of pipes. Finally, when he said he opened up the lines "at both ends", could you maybe show us in the pics exactly where he looked?
    In this picture I indicated with red lines, the sections he took off to look.
    5 sections in all.
    You mentioned vents? It should have them or it shouldn't?

  10. #25

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    Sorry, forgot the pic.
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  11. #26
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    I don't think he went far enough -- he stopped right at that hard turn I didn't like. Everything needs to be vented. Since I'm just an amateur plumber, however, I'm going to bow out here and let the pros have a crack at it.

    mike

  12. #27
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    If your still the low man on the totem pole, has any one opened up the main drain, or building sewer?

  13. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by plumber1
    If your still the low man on the totem pole, has any one opened up the main drain, or building sewer?
    Thats what I don't understand. The Main drain is huge and is connected to all 6 apartments on my side of the building. I am the only one who had a sewage backup. If the stoppage was in the main drain, more than just my apartment would have been backed up. A backup would have spread to all the connecting pipes of all the first floor apartments. This is why I think the plug happened before the main drain since I was the only one affected.

  14. #29
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    What did the plumber say about that terrible u-bend where your system connects to the line that goes to the main drain?

  15. #30
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Default I'm going to bow back in...

    ...and suggest that once in a while (I get the impression that this problem only occurs once in a while) a pretty good clog forms at the U-turn that plumber1 and I don't like. When that happens, the pipe backs up slowly as waste accumulates. When the toilets upstair flush, their waste encounters a closed pipe and as they fill up that pipe, the air in the pipe compresses and your toilet gurgles. Once things settle down, your trap drains slightly, lowering the water level. The clog can either clear itself or not -- the more pressure behind it, the more likely it will clear. If it does not, more and more waste will accumulate in the pipe, and will eventually overflow your toilet, which looks to be the lowest-level exit in this system. If this scenario is anywhere near accurate, it implies a lousy or nonexistent vent system, and a real need to straighten out that tangled web of pipe. There may be a Code provision in San Francisco that allows no vents if everything drains into a truly huge main line, but the route all that sewage is taking to get to that huge pipe invites clogs. I can't believe it would pass inspection.

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