Vent vapors in my apartment


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Old 06-04-08, 07:30 PM
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Vent vapors in my apartment

I hope someone here can help me out because the property management company sucks. I also don't have much confidence in their attempted repairs.

I sometimes have a bad smell in my house that gives me a headache and makes me nauseous. It comes from under my kitchen sink. This is a townhouse apartment, 2 levels, and I have the upstairs and downstairs. This apartment shares a kitchen sink drain with next door. On advice from friends, I made sure the plumbing from the trap to the wall had no leaks. I did this by sealing it up on the outside. Still the bad vapors.

I stuck a garden hose down the vent on the rooftop to clear any potential clog. It hasn't changed. I know it is a venting problem because the vent on the roof has exactly the same smell.

The hose might not have cleared the clog if there was one, or there may be a leak in the vent. Or maybe something else??

I'm about to tear out the drywall under the sink hoping to find a something, but if anybody here could help me out before I do that, I'd really appreciate it.
 
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Old 06-05-08, 05:05 AM
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OK, do you have a disposal? Is the ptrap lower than the disposal? If you are getting the smell from the vent on the roof, then the vent is cleared, most likely. The main thing is to make sure your ptrap is holding water at idle. Being an apartment, don't make any alterations, as you could be held liable for them. Pressure the management company to do their job.
 
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Old 06-05-08, 06:35 AM
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Sewer gas (methane) can be deadly poison and flammable. As instructed, make no alterations to structure. It is the landlord's responsibility to make sure you have a safe home where everything functions properly. You do not want to be responsible for any damage or for anything that goes wrong. You are not a licensed and insured contractor or plumber.

Since it appears that the management company has a history. Notify them immediately of the situation. Do so in writing and keep a copy for your file. If you get no immediate results make a copy of the letter for the local health department and get them involved.
 
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Old 06-05-08, 08:04 AM
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The bad actor in sewer gas is hydrogen sulfide not methane. It's doubtful that you could get enough H2S concentration in a 2 floor apartment to be fatal. However, it can cause health problems. Visit Wikipedia for more info.

As an interim measure, try covering the sink drains when the sink is not in use. If you have drain baskets try closing them to see if it helps reduce the odor.

Get on your landlords case to fix this. If they drag their feet, get an attorney to write them a letter pointing out the possible health issues. Don't attemptr to repair it yourself.
 
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Old 06-05-08, 08:35 PM
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I thank you all. I am not a plumber at all, but this property management company is lame at best. There is a big up-front deposit when we move in here and repairs are deducted from it. Yes I could take it to court but even if I won the case I might lose money, which I don't have much of since I'm unemployed.

Another note, this doesn't smell like sewer gas, well at least not like a toilet. Is it possible that the vapors are only from gray water as opposed to brown? This smells like bleach and dishwashing soap more than it smells like poop.

I am prepared to make a case if I have enough to go on--for myself as well as the other tenants. I guess my critical question now is, could this be sewer gas even if it doesn't smell like crap. Also, the smell seems to be coming from under the sink, not from above. Since it's from under the sink, it could be from the space in the drywall that has a couple small openings under the sink. The trap is lower than the disposal, chandler.

Another issue is, and maybe someone can help me with this, is that it may happen only an hour or 3 a couple days a week. A plumber may come here and see no problem at the time. Any suggestions on that?

I'm thinking it is a vent pipe that's cracked or got disconnected, since I can smell it both in here and on the roof vent.
 
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Old 06-05-08, 09:03 PM
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I sent this message to the property management company:
____________

Hello,

I'm living at one of the properties you manage and I have a problem here. At times there are vapors coming from under the kitchen sink that smell bad and make me nauseous.

I think it is a plumbing problem, specifically a venting problem, since the rooftop vent has the same smell. I have checked that myself.

I am at . . . . (address here). .. I would appreciate your quick response, since this is affecting my health. I would like a plumber, or any professional you choose, to fix this.

Thank You
 
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Old 06-06-08, 09:51 AM
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Typical waste vent vapors smell more like rotten eggs or sulphur than "poop". If the drain trap has water then the smell is coming from somewhere else. Does you house have a separate gray water drain?

Do you have gas for cooking or heating by any chance?
 
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Old 06-06-08, 02:54 PM
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cwbuff, how about backdraft from vent stack? If you could explain that, I would be appreciative. Too tired to wiggle here.
 
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Old 06-06-08, 03:11 PM
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This smell isn't like rotten eggs--I don't know how to describe it. The kitchens (mine and the next door neighbor's) are vented together, and separately from the bathrooms which have their own vents. I don't know how far they're drained separately.

The landlord is coming over today and thinks maybe I just need a good cleaning under the sink. If they end up avoiding the issue, I'll move. In the last 2 weeks 2 of us 6 renters have moved out, partly because of the management. I'd be #3.
 
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Old 06-06-08, 03:27 PM
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It sounds like your DWV system is divided between waste and gray water. That could be why there's no hydrogen sulfide smell. if the piping under your sink is intact there should be no smell coming from there. If it's not coming from the drain I'm at a loss for a source.
 
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Old 06-06-08, 03:38 PM
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I'm thinking maybe it's coming from inside the wall where the vent connects to the drainage. There is an opening right above the floor.
 
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Old 06-08-08, 09:10 AM
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You've got great info from the others on the possibility of the source and remedies, however I am stymied at the deposit being used for repairs for normal wear and tear, or maintenance. This doesn't fly. The deposits are usually used to cover repairs caused by you when you move out, not while you are living there, and it is an infrastructure failure. Any repairs or maintenance on their infrastructure should not cost you out of pocket.
 
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Old 06-08-08, 09:41 AM
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I missed the point about the deposit and repairs deducted from it. If this was a refundable deposit such as a security or damage deposit, the law requires that deposits be placed in a trust account. Deposit money can not be withheld for normal wear and tear and for repairs. Keeping the property in good repair is the responsibility of the landlord and at his expense. If you are a renter, then Google for your state's landlord tenant laws and learn what your rights and responsibilities are as well as the landlords.
 
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Old 06-08-08, 05:27 PM
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I realize that what my neighbors have experienced here is not right.

The owner of the place came over and tried to dismiss this as something normal. This is my first conversation with her ever. I basically told her I wasn't going to stay here if this isn't fixed, that I'd sue if she made me pay for repairs, told her I'm also a homeowner, and more.

She said she'll have a plumber come check it out at no cost to me. She also said I won't have to pay for the garbage disposal unless it's jammed by something dropped in it (which it isn't; I checked). So things aren't looking too bad. I just hope the plumber can figure out why these vapors are coming in, and fix it. Thanks all for the help. Hopefully this will be resolved shortly.
 
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Old 06-08-08, 07:01 PM
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Hopefully you will get a knowledgeable plumber that can give you a good report. Keep us posted.
 
 

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