Downstairs Toilet gurgles when upstairs toilet is flushed

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Old 01-22-11, 06:43 AM
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Downstairs Toilet gurgles when upstairs toilet is flushed

Hi All,

New to the boards but hope to return often.

My problem is that every time we flush our upstairs toilet, our downstairs toilet gurgles. Here is some background details.

Our house was built in the 60s; moderate sized split level home, and only has two bathrooms. I remodelled our upstairs bathroom when we first moved in in 2006, replacing the original toilet with a stronger flushing toto model. When we first moved in we also had drain problems, but resolved by snaking out the main drain line to the street, cutting roots, etc...

However, we've had this problem with the downstairs toilet as long as I can remember, but not sure if it existed before I replaced the upstairs toilet.
I've read that the problem could be blocked vent stack or blocked drains but both of those seem to be just fine, and I've used chemical products in the past to help ensure the drain was clean. I've confirmed that the vent stack is not blocked by spraying water down and seeing/hearing it drain without problems.

I've also had a plumber out but asked them to leave when they started complaining about possibly having to pop the toilet up.

I'm now at the point where I'm remodelling our downstairs bathroom, down to the studs, and thinking now is a good time to get this fixed once and for all while there's access to pipes. (I'm fearing that additinoal vent lines may need to be installed)
I also wonder if now that I replace the downstairs toilet, if this problem may not even exist again, and thinking about installing the new toilet temporarily to see. I currently have the downstairs toilet and sink drains blocked off completely and there is no problem with flushing the upstairs toilet.

Looking to see if anyone here has thoughts or ideas of the possible problem and what to do. Thanks in advance!
 
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Old 01-22-11, 07:47 AM
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When they gurggle like that it means:

1) There is some blockage in the line an water backs up to the vent for the toilet down stairs. Its gulping for air, then blocks the vent a little then gulps, then blocks...ect
2) Are you on a septic? Sometimes the septics get full and cause the line to be partially filled.
3) Sometimse they did not pipe to code and the downstair may be wet vented with the upstairs.

If you are gutting the down stairs I highly recommend you draw a diagram of how the up and down baths are all tied together. You have a great opportunity to repipe the down to its own outlet and seperate vent if indeed you are wet vented.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 01-22-11, 08:27 AM
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Thanks, Mike.

There's no septic; it's city.

I think I have a wet vent, as you described. I assume that means the venting for downstairs is done through lines that also drain waste water from upstairs? Here is a crude diagram. I only have access to the bottom floor portion of the vent stack however while the downstairs is gutted. (well actually most of the upstairs bathroom drain lines to the vent stack also, as they are in the rafters above.)

I was thinking that I may need to install one of those one-way air vent valves maybe?

 
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Old 01-22-11, 08:44 AM
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more pics

Here's a few pics that show my access options downstairs. As you can see, the main drain/vent stack swings over to the other side of the block wall, into our crawl space, where it has a clean out and then goes horizontal out to the street. I have access to that area as well. Pictures by goodfella9000 - Photobucket
 
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Old 01-22-11, 09:05 AM
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Old 01-22-11, 10:21 AM
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Thanks. While that may be the best solution, I don't think it's really feasible to tear up the house as would be necessary to do that. The downstairs drain line under the toilet/sink is under concrete (with asbestos tile on it) and the rest of the house is buttoned up. Are there other options?
 
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Old 01-22-11, 02:07 PM
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Your downstairs is on a slab??? Did you gut the down stairs yet??? I am just curious to know if there are any vent pipes for the down bath. I assume the drawing is accurate?? Let me know I may have another idea.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 01-22-11, 08:33 PM
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if your short of money and dont want to reconstruct your home then put a studer vent at the sink....the problem looks to be that the fall of waste from the upstairs toilet is causing a vaccum on the lower toilets trap...the studer vent at the sink would stop this from happening...look up studer vent online and youll get your info
 
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Old 01-22-11, 09:51 PM
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Goodfella9000:

I would have the main drain line to your house cleared (again) and see if that corrects the problem.

Where I live (Manitoba), if you add a toilet in your basement, there is no requirement to have any sort of vent on it. You merely need to cut into your basement floor and connect the new toilet to the main drain line from the house.

Now, also remember that the drain from the kitchen sink will typically also empty into that main drain line, and it's the solids that go down the kitchen sink drain that will typically cause that main drain line to gradually clog up.

What happens if your main drain line is partially clogged and the upstairs toilet suddenly dumps 5 gallons of water into that drain line so that the water comes into the drain line faster than it can flow through the partially clogged section?

Well, the water backs up the drain pipe to the downstairs toilet, and the air gets compressed in that basement toilet's drain pipe until it comes gurgling out the toilet bowl.

I don't believe that putting a Studer vent on the sink will help at all, unless you install it backwards. A Studer vent is nothing more than a spring loaded check valve. When the pressure in the drain piping goes BELOW atmospheric pressure and threatens to suck the water out of the p-traps, the Studer vent opens to allow air into the drain piping to relieve that partial vaccuum. In this case the problem is not a partial vaccuum in the drain piping, but air pressure in the drain piping. That's something that's going to assist the sprink pressure in keeping the Studer vent closed.

Try this:
Pour three or four 5 gallon pails of water down the downstairs toilet (in quick succession, pausing only shortly between pails to observe the flushing action). See if each pail is followed by a strong flushing of the bowl. If the first one or two are, but then the toilet seems to loose it's gusto and the water only drains down the bowl slowly, that's confirmation that the main drain line is partially clogged. You have at least a 3 inch drain pipe coming from your house, and a 3 inch diameter pipe will be able to carry away 5 gallon pails of water faster than you can pour them into the toilet. If it doesn't then that 3 inch drain pipe is partially clogged. If that's what you find, and you just had that line cleared 4 years ago, I'd pay the $200 and have a video inspection done of your drain line. You may have a more serious problem in there somewhere.

PS: Toilets don't have "traps" the way sinks do. On a toilet, it's the water in the bowl that keeps sewer gas from getting into the house. Contrary to popular misconception, the serpentine channel between the bottom of the toilet bowl and the floor flange is NOT a trap, and doesn't serve as a trap. It's got a tortuous shape only to slow the flushing water down so that channel can become FULL of water. Once that channel becomes FULL of water, then the laws of physics take over to turn it into a siphon, and it's that siphoning action of that channel that sucks the water (and everything in that water) outta the toilet bowl. If they made that channel short and straight, it would be harder to get it to fill up with water, and harder to establish that all important siphoning action for a successful flush.
And, you have Sir Isaac Newton's personal guarantee that as long as nothing interferes with that siphoning action, you will get a strong flushing action after each and every 5 gallon pail. As soon as your basement toilet looses it's gusto for flushing, then it's likely to be because the drain pipe it's emptying into is full of water. Stop pouring water into that basement toilet when you detect that the toilet has lost it's enthusiasm to flush. If your main drain line is clear, then your toilet will never lose it's enthusiasm for flushing. It was born to flush.
 

Last edited by Nestor; 01-22-11 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 01-23-11, 08:30 AM
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Wow, that's some great feedback, and makes a lot of sense. Thank you!

I guess what I will do is temporarily install the new toilet (while I've got walls ripped out with access to plumbing) in the downstairs bath so that I can test it as you mentioned. Shopping list today...several buckets and wax ring. :-)

When I had drain cleaned 4 years ago, we had a tree on top of the sewer drain, and the plumber ran blades from the street clean out up to the house to cut up and remove any roots. That tree was removed 3 years ago. I was thinking that process really would have removed any clogs / partial clogs very effectively; and I believe the gurgling was still occurring at that time, but not 100% sure.

I believe the main line is indeed 3 inches btw.

Here is an updated diagram of my drain plumbing.

Photobucket
 
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Old 01-23-11, 08:47 AM
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I find it hard to believe there are no vent pipes in the walls. Even for the kitchen there would and should be a vent. Look on your roof? How many pipes?

Plus if you had roots and cut down the tree, roots still grow believe it or not.Have the sewer checked again. If they camara and find roots have them cut them with a cutting bit and use this. RootX is the simple, effective and proven solution for sewer root control
 
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Old 01-23-11, 08:53 AM
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Just one vent pipe on the roof, and I can trace/account for all the pipes through the house; Don't think there's anything I'm missing. I did the roof check yesterday, and checked my neighbors and they are all the same...just one vent. Houses were built in the early 60s. Saw you were in NJ, I'm in camden county.
 
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Old 01-23-11, 09:56 AM
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Goodfella9000:

Instead of the wax seal, maybe buy a 7-11 Super Big Gulp.

You don't have to put the downstairs toilet bowl on to do the same test. If you have a helper and a cell phone connection between you and the helper, you can get him/her to pour the water down the upstairs toilet, and you watch for water coming up the downstair's toilet's drain pipe.

If you have a flash light or any kind of portable illumination, just shine it down the downstairs toilet's drain pipe. If you see the water level suddenly rising in the downstair's toilet drain pipe, tell the helper to stop pouring and hold the Super Big Gulp cup firmly in the downstairs toilet drain pipe to prevent water gushing out. As long as you can stop the gushing for the first 10 seconds or so, you should be OK to remove the cup from the drain pipe.

Either way, if you see water coming up that basement toilet drain pipe, then you KNOW that the main drain line from your house is partially clogged.

PS: Where I live, if you add a toilet in your basement, you don't have to tear apart the inside walls of your house to run another vent stack to the roof. That's because the worst that could happen without a vent stack for that new toilet is that you get some smelly sewer gas into your house. While that sewer gas isn't pleasant, it's not poisonous. Anyone who's ever used an outhouse breathes in sewer gas.
You should still provide a Studer vent on any sinks, tubs and showers you add downstairs, but Studer vents will only allow air into the drain piping, they won't allow excessive air pressure in the drain piping to vent.
 
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Old 01-23-11, 09:59 AM
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I had one bath house 1950. When I added the bath upstairs I could not just tie into the stack. I had to run the line down below the venting of the first bath. I am very suprised there are no vents for your baths. But the were some sears houses that the homeowners build and god know what they did......



Mike NJ
 
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Old 01-23-11, 03:36 PM
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thanks again, guys. I will try the tests asap. BTW...there is no basement....this is a split level house with the downstairs floor level with the ground, and the house was built by a developer with many houses around us of very similar styles. Both bathrooms and drains are original I believe, except that we added the 2nd sink in the upstairs bath.
 
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Old 01-24-11, 12:09 PM
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Ok. Tested today. What I discovered was that the 3" pipe from upstairs, drains directly into the drop for the downstairs toilet, just 6" or so below the toilet. So when the upstairs is flushed, it is hitting directly into the side of the drop pipe and hitting it somewhat hard creating splashing, bubbles, etc. We ran 5 gallons or so as quickly as we could, while also running the two sinks simultaneously and while I could not really get it the drain to back up to where I could see it, there was definitely air bubbling and pushing backup up to where the toilet would be. Here's a pic describing. I even took video that I may try to post as well.

Photobucket
 
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Old 01-24-11, 12:28 PM
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Updated diagram

 
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Old 01-24-11, 04:58 PM
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Before anything gets carved in stone, I'd e-mail that picture and your diagram to someone in one of the well established residential plumbing companies in your area and see if he agrees that the drain piping may have been done the way you've got it drawn.

My understanding is that the main drain line from a house comes off the bottom of the vent stack. You have the bottom of the vent stack connecting to the toilet's drain pipe. Don't know if that's kosher. I'd have an experienced plumber give his opinion on that. You may be missing a piece of the puzzle.
 
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Old 01-24-11, 06:32 PM
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Nestor - While what you're saying makes a lot of sense to me, I'm pretty sure the layout is accurate. At first I questioned if maybe there was a triangle scenario, where both the stack and downstairs toilet go to the main sewer, but also have a line between them, but I just check again, and I'm %99 sure of the layout. The last I can see of the main stack line, it has a 90 to take it horizontal, directly towards the downstairs toilet, and theres only about 12 inches of pipe before it drops into the line from the toilet. (my drawing should have the bottom toilet right next to the wall)

I'm working on uploading two videos to show the testing today and the actual piping.

Either way, the amount of air pushing back in the test today makes me think the line isn't as open as it should be all the way to the street. So I guess best next steps to take would be to have main sewer line cleared and/or video'd?
 
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Old 01-24-11, 06:51 PM
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Nestor - Here is the video from the test today. Do you think this would mean some type of partial clog? YouTube - drain test

Also, here is the video of the entire drain system. Turn your head to the side to get the right view. YouTube - bathroom remodel 068.avi

Sorry for so much info/questions/etc....as you can see I'm quite the DIY'er.
 
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Old 01-26-11, 06:50 PM
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Goodfella9000:
I'm unable to watch streaming video on my computer because I'm still on dial-up with a 33.6 KB modem. In actuality, my real download rate is typically about 1000 to 2500 bytes per second, not 33,600 bytes per second. So, for me, watching streaming video is like watching grass grow.

When I clicked on your You-Tube link, I got a message saying:

"You are using an outdated browser, which YouTube no longer supports. Since some features on YouTube may not work, you are viewing a lightweight version of the video page."

But, on the positive side, it said "Loading..."
But it kept saying "Loading... for the next ten minutes with no change in the black screen.

I'll let it load while I'm working in an empty suite tomorrow, and I'll see if I can watch it.

If I were you, rather than have a video survey done now, or even have the drain line cleared just to be on the safe side, I'd just keep my eyes open for empy 5 gallon pails. Restaurants go through a lot of them. Once you get 5 or so pails, do a toilet flush test and see if the drain pipe backs up or not. If it doesn't, then the drain line is not significantly clogged.

It's actually a good idea to do a toilet test like this every coupla years. The reason why is that around the perimeter of a typical house's basement wall footing will be a length of perforated pipe called "weeping tiles". Those weeping tiles allow excess ground water around the house to drain away, thereby preventing any hydrostatic pressure from building up which would otherwise cause that ground water to want to seep through the basement wall. Thus, the weeping tiles eliminate the hydrostatic pressure that would cause the ground water to want to seep through the basement wall. If the weeping tiles are working properly, there amount of water in the ground outside the basement wall will be held in the ground by capillary pressure, and there won't be any hydrostatic pressure trying to force water through the basement wall.

The weeping tiles around your house are connected either to a floor drain in your lower floor laundry room area, or to a sump pit in your lower floor. In newer homes, the sump pump has to pump the water outside, but in older homes in many cities, the weeping tiles are simply connected to the floor drain in the laundry room area of the house (generally in the basement), and that floor drain then connects to the main drain line leaving the house. (There is a P-trap at the bottom of the laundry room floor drain.) (Now I shoot off on a tangent: The reason why having a floor drain in the laundry room area was thought to be a good idea was because the drain line from the washing machine and laundry room sink would also connect to that same floor drain. That way, the p-trap at the bottom of the floor drain would be filled up every time the home owner did laundry. That way, during a long period of no rain to refill that p-trap, sewer gas wouldn't come into the house through the laundry room floor drain and smell up the whole house.) Back to the subject at hand...

The weeping tiles allow all the excess ground water in the soil around your house to drain away. And, often the weeping tiles will connect to the floor drain in your lower floor laundry room area, and that floor drain then connects to the main drain line from your house.

The problem is if that main drain line was partially clogged, then the water seeping into the weeping tiles after a really hard rain could outpace the rate at which that water could drain through the partially clogged main drain line. In that case, the water would back up that main drain line all the way to the laundry room floor drain, and then continue to flood the laundry room and the rest of the lower floor of the house. The result was a flooded basement or lower floor.

So, it's important to ensure that the main drain line from your house is never clogged to the point where ground water seeping in from the weeping tiles can outpace the rate at which water can drain away through that main drain. Cuz, if that ever happens, and you get a heavy rain, then you've got a flood on your hands.

So, my advice to you right now would be to carry on, but keep your eye out for some more empty pails, and do that 5 pail test to see whether or not your drain pipe actually backs up or not. If it doesn't, then you can be confident that you're not likely to have a flood after a heavy rain for the near future (like 2 or 3 years), and that's most important to know if you're going to be spending a lot of money and time renovating your basement. But, if your drain line backs up during a 5 pail test, then it's a good idea to have that main drain line cleared because the $100 spent to clear it is peanuts compared to all the repairs and work needed after a flood.

So, I can't comment on whether anything on your video is indicative of anything, since it would just be a guess anyway. What you should do is keep your eyes open for discarded 5 gallon pails, and once you have 5 of them, test your drain line to see if it backs up or not.

If it does back up, then keep in mind that the companies that advertise drain clearing services on the radio need to charge the most to pay for such expensive advertising. If you phone up the drain clearing companies that don't have full page ads in the phone book or advertise on the radio, you can get the same job done for 1/2 or even 1/3 of what the Rooter charges. It's also a good idea to keep your old yellow pages phone directory whenever the new ones come out. That way, by quick comparison, you can find out who the latest start-up drain cleaning companies in your area are. No one throws away all their seniority and job security to quit and start their own drain cleaning company until they've learned all they can and made all their mistakes while working for their former employer. So, by phoning up the new start up companies, you're often getting the most knowledgeable and experienced guy previously employed by the Rooter doing your drain for half the cost the Rooter would charge. And, he's happy to do it for that cuz he knows that even then he's still taking home twice as much on that job as he would be if he was still working for the Rooter. And, of course, it's ALWAYS the most senior, most experienced and most knowledgeable employees that quit to start their own new companies. So, highest price doesn't necessarily mean best quality or best service. So, it's a good idea to keep your old yellow pages phone books whenever the new ones come out so you can readily determine who those new start-up companies are in each trade and business.
 

Last edited by Nestor; 01-26-11 at 07:49 PM.
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Old 01-26-11, 08:22 PM
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Thanks, Nestor. Here are some thoughts:

Using dial-up, I doubt you'll be able to view the videos as they were quite large for that connection. I appreciate you trying though.

However, i took a couple of time lapse shots from the video...check them out. Here's a description. What we did was run the two bathroom sinks, then flush the toilet, then dump 4.5 gallons down the toilet, then flush the toilet again all in about 10-15 seconds. What I witnessed is shown in the numbered pics as follows:

#1 - at 42 seconds - shows the stream of water flow (from the top of pic towards the bottom) from the two sinks. Note that you can see the air mist that was rising. (Already telling me air flow is pushing back)

#2 - at 49 seconds - Toilet was flushed...picture shows that flow with disruption caused by the flow hitting the side of the drain pipe.

#3 - at 54 seconds - 4.5 gallons of water dumped. At this point, the water was bubbling back up and starting to rise in the pipe. I don't think the drain was completely full of water that was backing up, but the combination of the amount of air pushing back and the amount of water combined, forced the water to bubble upwards. This occurred for just a few seconds when the flow of water was heaviest.

#4 - at 57 seconds - Toilet flushed again, lower flow and water settling back down.

It seems that what you're saying is that even with the design of the "t" fitting coming in just below the toilet, the 3" pipe should be able to carry away the waster water without pushing back that much air and water back up towards the downstairs toilet. So...if that is accurate, then I'm convinced there must be partial clog as you suggested.

Photobucket
 
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Old 01-27-11, 12:08 AM
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Arrow thoughts

if your pictures are accurate and the drawings you made... I would assume that the downstairs toilet is wet vented through the main 3" stack. (wet vents are allowed and used all the time but a wet vent can wet vent toilets only on the same level) you have an upstairs and a downstairs toilet.

Also running water at the tap is not enough to find out if you have a blockage or a partial blockage. I would consider filling up the sinks, and a bathtub and allow them all to drain at the same time as you flush a toilet. This should provide a large volume of water all at once.

I however think that you need to have someone snake the main line and remove and roots that have grown back. (or rent an electric snake and do it yourself)

I am not sure if the problem tree or whatever it is that has the roots in the line is removed or not. but you could also consider replacing that section of sewer line in your yard with plastic pipe to remove the roots from the line for good.
 
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Old 01-27-11, 08:12 AM
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GoodFella9000:

The problem is that by dumping water into the upstairs toilet with the lower floor toilet off, you're comparing apples to oranges.

While there may be a lot of bubbling and stuff going on in the drain pipe of the lower floor toilet, there's no indication that any of those bubbles would cause PRESSURE to accumulate in the drain pipe of the lower floor toilet. And, with the lower floor toilet in place, you need some PRESSURE in that drain pipe to cause air bubbles to gurgle up into that lower floor toilet bowl. There's just no way to conclude one way or the other whether or not the piping of your toilet is what's causing the gurgling of the toilet or not. That's why I'm suggesting that you start a 5 gallon pail collection.

Pure Plumbing is saying that the kind of piping you have is feasible, and so that's an indication that your drawing may be accurate. I'd still run it past experienced plumbers in the area you live because my understanding is what you can and can't do varies depending on where you live.

I suppose one way to look at it is that having the drain line cleared certainly won't do any harm. It's just that collecting a few scrap 5 gallon pails is less expensive and is something that's good to have around anyway.

Sorry, but unless and until you pour enough water down that drain fast enough to make a partially clogged drain line back up, there's no way to draw any conclusions one way or the other. Maybe just go ahead and have the drain line cleared for your own peace of mind.
 
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Old 01-27-11, 08:45 AM
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From what I saw there is no clogg. The amount of water coming in and the fact that all that water is hitting the back of that fitting and needs to drop down is normal. Plus you flushed then dropped 10 more gallons down. You would not have that much water anyway.

I tried to look on line to find an ole cast iron fitting like that and coul not find one. Looks like a tee with a mid point inlet. Picture a tee 2"x3"x 3"(this being the toilet) and another 3" coming in on the horn(riser to toilet).

Odd.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 01-27-11, 11:03 AM
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Thanks again everyone. I believe the drawing is accurate, as I can see 95% of the piping with the lower bathroom drywall off. The 2nd video shows most of it.

With the test I did, it was actually two sinks running, flush toilet (1.6gpf), dump about 4.5 gallons from 5 gallon bucket, then flush toilet again (it has a quick fill, and is a fast flush, toto toilet), all within 15 seconds. I believe it we had then dumped another 4.5 gallons from the bucket quickly, I would have witnessed the water briefly overflow the opening downstairs and onto the floor. I think I already have three or four 5 gallon buckets, so I can try the 5 bucket test, but I think it would just back up before I got to 3 or 4. So if that test fails, then the conclusion is that there is not enough capacity in the pipes either due to poor design or clog right? Then next step is to have the drain to the street checked/cleaned right, or at least show a plumber the test and describe the problem and let them determine next steps?

I agree that elbo fitting seems odd...I'm almost concerned that it was a butcher job...but could it have been that way for the last 50 years? Could some of our waste water be seeping into the ground below the slab? We have no evidence of that at all, but I wonder.

I've purchased a new toilet and I'm almost inclined to temporarily install it and see if we have the same problem with the new toilet. I still don't think I'd be 100% comfortable proceeding to button the walls back up though, if it did not have a problem.

The problem tree was removed 2-3 years ago, but others have said the roots could still be in the pipe....maybe thats our issue.

So....I'm thinking next steps either way is to engage a reputable plumber.

I have sewer line insurance and I almost wish the line would rupture so it could be replaced under insurance! Then there definitely be no more clog if there was one.
 
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Old 01-27-11, 11:14 AM
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As a plumber I can tell you this. You have the basement bath gutted. Why not just jack hammer that fitting out and replace it with a sweep. Then a 3x2 y to pic up the toilet. Them dump the lav in the 2" part of the y and vent the lav up and out somewhere above the 2nd floor bath? I saw plenty of areas in your video to get a vent up to the roof. Possibly your looking for another answer. You dont have a clogg!!! The water is floweing fine. Its a lack of vent and the fact the upstairs flow hits the back of that fitting..... This is what your issue is and what you need to do. If you feel different then just through a toilet on and be done with it. There is nothing else that will fix that issue.

Good luck

Mike NJ
 
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Old 01-27-11, 06:27 PM
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Thanks, Mike. Keep in my I'm just DIYer. It's not that I'm looking for a different solution, I'm just following all of the feedback I've received and trying to make a conclusion as a non-expert. Some of this feedback suggest partial clog, while some suggest more venting is required, while there is also a suggestion that the drain design is flawed. So which do I follow? Before I go renting a jackhammer, and worrying about how i'm going to remove and dispose asbestos tile, I'd like to be confident that is absolutely necessary.

It's great to get all this feedback though....definitely learned a lot so far and appreciate everyones responses.
 
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Old 01-27-11, 06:59 PM
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That tile is minimal. Stack it and wrap it and put it behind a shed until another day.

Its a drain design flaw and venting. It will not hurt to camera the line but I saw no issue. You need only a 3x3 section of concrete opened for the repair. The vent from the lav is easy from what I can see.

I'd like to be confident that is absolutely necessary.
It may not be neccesary (your granfathered) but dont complain about the gurgleing. Simple as that. I am just giving an answer to your issue.

Mike NJ
 
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Old 01-28-11, 08:18 PM
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I'm also trying to understand what's going on here.

One thing's for sure. The downstairs toilet wouldn't have air bubbles coming up the toilet bowl unless there was pressure building up in the downstairs toilet drain pipe.

Goodfella9000 never said anything about it smelling in the downstairs bathroom after the toilet gurgles. So, maybe what's bubbling up in the downstairs toilet isn't the sewer gas in the main drain line from the house (as it would be if that line were partially clogged). If the air bubbling up the downstairs toilet doesn't smell, maybe that air that hasn't been in the drain piping long enough to smell.

In a previous post, Goodfella9000 said: "We ran 5 gallons or so as quickly as we could, while also running the two sinks simultaneously and while I could not really get it the drain to back up to where I could see it, there was definitely air bubbling and pushing backup up to where the toilet would be."

Maybe the point we're missing is something called "Conservation of Momentum". When water drains properly in a sink or bathtub or even a toilet bowl, it will typically swirl one way or the other. Once it gets into the drain pipe, it SHOULD keep swirling. There's no reason to believe that it suddenly stops swirling for any reason. And, if that swirling water on the inside of the drain pipe encounters joints in the pipe, or any other aberation on the ID of the pipe, then all kinds of splashing is going to happen as well. So, maybe when a toilet flushes, a lot of air gets entrained
in that flushing water.

If Goodfella9000's piping diagram is correct, then when that mixture of air and water goes into the drain pipe under the downstairs toilet, the water flows away down the main drain line from the house, but the air in that water has no where to go. So, as more and more air accumulates in the drain pipe immediately under the downstairs toilet, the pressure builds up until it pushes the water out the siphon tube and comes bubbling up in the bowl (causing the gurgling).

 

Last edited by Nestor; 01-28-11 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 01-28-11, 08:54 PM
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Nestory you might be on to something. I will say that the upstairs toilet is a "fast-flush" toto model, that has an oversized flapper. It flushes all the water in about 1/2 a second. We installed it when we first moved in to replace the original toilet. Could be that this gurgling problem never existed before installing this new toilet upstairs, but I don't know as we ripped out the upstairs bath the day we took ownership. I'm wandering if the design was fine with the old toilet, but can't handle the fast-flush model.
 
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Old 01-28-11, 09:09 PM
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Goodfella9000:

If you simply POUR a 5 gallon pail of water into the upstairs toilet bowl, but not fast enough to make it flush, will the downstairs toilet bowl still bubble?

If it doesn't bubble, then we know that it's the air entrained in the flushing water that's causing the pressure build-up, not a partial clog in the main drain line.

Still, having the bottom of the vent stack connected to the downstairs toilet drain pipe is something I've never seen before, and perhaps what's happening in your case is exactly the reason it's not done.

(Technically, the part of that vertical pipe above the highest drain line connection is called the "vent stack", and everything below is called the "soil stack", but it's common to hear people like me refer to the whole pipe as the "vent stack". Everyone understands from the context of the discussion whether "bottom of the vent stack" means the bottom of the whole pipe or the point where the vent stack turns into the soil stack. Unless it's otherwise stated, in common usage the term "vent stack" generally means the whole pipe, but look to the context of the discussion to find out what's really meant.)
 

Last edited by Nestor; 01-28-11 at 10:01 PM.
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Old 01-29-11, 07:35 AM
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I'm not sure if it would still bubble...I'd have to re-install the downstairs toilet to try it. If we were to conclude that is the problem, then how to resolve? Have you guys ever seen a replacement toilet flapper that reduces the flapper hole opening to slow down the flush? Or should I consider moving the fast flush toilet to downstairs and installing slower flush upstairs? Not sure if I could do that with the size requirements.

I'm also considering the idea of ripping up the pad floor to change the design. A bit more than I wanted to get into however, and not sure I could do it. Thinking about how I would cut the horizontal line from the 90 elbow if that's steel. I've heard our sewer lines are a form of cardboard material? Wandering where the steel pipe converts to that as well.

Btw....the gurlging downstairs was pretty bad....large gulps of air enough to splash water up onto the toilet seat.
 
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Old 01-29-11, 07:49 AM
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Oh no you have Orangeburg pipe!!!!!!

http://www.a2gov.org/government/comm...orangeburg.pdf

Mike NJ
 
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Old 01-29-11, 09:32 AM
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yep, i think you're right. i've only been here 4 years, but my neighbors have told me that most everyone in the neighborhood has had to replace the sewer pipe in their yards at some point, and they don't believe ours was ever done. Also, the house was built in early 60s right around the time when it seems orangeburg would be used.

Thanks for the link. aye, aye, aye, the drama continues!
 
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Old 01-29-11, 10:15 AM
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we've been paying our water company for sewer line protection up to $8000.00 for years. If we did determine there was roots, blockages, deterioration, or breakdown of the oranageburg, any ideas on at what point it qualifies for replacement under protection?

Also, i've decided that i'm not going to rip up the floor, at least not myself. i believe the pipe is probably steel under the slab and with the concrete slab, cinderblock wall, and steel pipes that would all have to be manipulated, it's just too much for me to handle myself. sounds like a good suggestion though.
 
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