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Haven't had this problem before...

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JakeCK
JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
Flushed the toilet this morning to the wonderful sound of all the traps in the bathroom getting sucked dry. 

Upon investigation I discovered this:


Is there any chance this could damage the pipe, and is there anything I can do to thaw it out, or should I just wait it out?

It is supposed to finally get above freezing Wednesday.

Comments

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,396
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    Probably not worth climbing on that roof to try and thaw it. We had to put frost protection on vents in cold country. Which involved increasing one size about 12” below the roof. It seemed to work to keep them from frosting. Although that looks like. 4”?

    Snow shear was another problem with vents low on the pitch, however. Warm country plumbers would make that mistake
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    rendrik92
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,850
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    In michigan I'm pretty sure increasing to 4" is required. There were about 2 days of 0f and 20 mph or so winds with light snow mixed in that I suspect is what iced this up.

    You could try putting a space heater below it in the attic to see if you can warm the ci enough to thaw the ice but be very careful about how you do that.
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
    edited December 2022
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    Yea it's 4". And there is no way in hell I'm climbing up on that roof. I can count on one hand with digits to spare the times I have been up there, and that was in good weather. Lol

    I have full access in the attic. Was thinking a heat gun might warm it enough? Maybe?
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
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    And waiting it out is always an option too isn't it? Being iced up won't damage anything at this point will it? We're supposed to hit 40 Wednesday plus rain so it should thaw quickly. Just need to remember to refill the traps in the tub and sink until then.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,850
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    Waiting it out should be fine. the plug is probably more packed snow than ice.
    JakeCK
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,095
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    Do you have other roof vents?

    Every fixture drain is connected to a vent somehow.
    Perhaps thru re-venting in the attic to a common point.

    I would just wait it out and keep your traps primed with water.

    More of this with this storm than in the past.
    JakeCK
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
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    I also have the benefit of aav's for the kitchen sink, and half bath so once the slug of water from the upstairs toilet makes it to the wye in the basement it'll be able to pull air from those.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,095
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    You understand the necessity of air vents.

    Many people do not and wonder why all this extra pipe is installed that does nothing.
    Out here in fly-over country, for the most part there is no plumbing inspection.
    So in old houses there may be no vent or a badly placed one that plugs easily.

    In one case the WC would not flush, just fill up to almost overflowing.
    The VTR was a dry vent connected under the floor with a low heel 90.
    The base of the vent was plugged with leaves etc.
    A trip to the roof with a garden hose made things work.
    The HO could not believe that pipe made a difference.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,870
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    Could be a fluke that's never happened before and will never happen again.

    I'd wait it out and see if it ever happens again before I put any effort into it
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    WMno57CLamb
  • Danny Scully
    Danny Scully Member Posts: 1,429
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    Hoars frost! 
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
    edited December 2022
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    I think the blocked vent has highlighted another problem.

    There is a sewer smell eeking out from the basement/laundry room floor drain. I bet there is break somewhere under the floor and with the vent blocked it is finding the next best place to vent.

    Smells like $$$$ going out the window. :/

    Edit: Yes there is water in the trap. first thing I checked.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,095
    edited December 2022
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    What other drains in the basement?

    Washing machine drain....sink....etc.

    Is there a plug in the floor drain clean out?
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,850
    edited December 2022
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    If the vent is frozen it could still be burping sewer gas out through the trap. Or drying out the trap in a laundry tub or other fixture.
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
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    There are rough ins for a bathroom shower, sink and toilet but they are all physically capped. The laundry sink has its own trap and the washer drains in to that sink. No other drains in the basement. 
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,596
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    Can you get into the attic with a hair dryer?
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
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    SlamDunk said:
    Can you get into the attic with a hair dryer?
    Yes. I had thought about using my heat gun. But either way it will be melted by tomorrow if not by tonight. It's up into the upper 20's now I can't imagine it staying frozen much longer. 
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
    edited December 2022
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    Just flushed the upstairs toilet. No more suction or gurgling when flushed. It has probably opened up. The smell isn't noticeable in the basement much anymore now either. 

    The plumbing under the slab in the laundry room is the only original plumbing left down here. I wouldn't be surprised if it has cracked, or has separated over the past 90+ years. When ever I get a round-to-it I should bust up the floor in there and replace all of that too. Kind of sucks that the washer and dryer pad is right on top of it and is about 6" of solid concrete on top of the couple inches of slab. Lol
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,095
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    Take the grate off of the floor drain. Often those had a clean out plug inside the basin on the side.
    The bottom opening is the actual drain down into the trap.
    The CO plug bypasses the trap and goes straight into the drain line for easy cleaning.

    I often see the CO plug missing and sewer gas may or may not come out.
    mattmia2
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
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    This is an old clay trap. I can see the water in it. I have had it snaked out via that drain years back there is no clean out there. In fact when I had the sewer lines in the rest of the basement replaced along with a 6 ft section of the stack a clean out was added at the bottom of the stack just for that reason. 
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,396
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    JakeCK said:

    When ever I get a round-to-it I should bust up the floor in there and replace all of that too. Kind of sucks that the washer and dryer pad is right on top of it and is about 6" of solid concrete on top of the couple inches of slab. Lol

    Joe Listiburek at www.buildingscience.com is a proponent of basements with exterior insulated walls, footers, and floor. How about some project creep? You could do the foam board under slab insulation and pex for in floor heat.

    I DIY.
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
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    WMno57 said:
    When ever I get a round-to-it I should bust up the floor in there and replace all of that too. Kind of sucks that the washer and dryer pad is right on top of it and is about 6" of solid concrete on top of the couple inches of slab. Lol
    Joe Listiburek at www.buildingscience.com is a proponent of basements with exterior insulated walls, footers, and floor. How about some project creep? You could do the foam board under slab insulation and pex for in floor heat.
    With an unlimited budget I would have already had this house jacked up and a whole new foundation and slab poured with in floor radiant and 2" of foam board under it all. 9 ft ceiling height so I could run all the mechanicals above a drop ceiling while keeping a 8ft ceiling for my finished man cave. I would even a massive projector drop out of the ceiling too with a 4k projector. 

    If only I had an unlimited budget. Lol 

    Yea I'm not going to touch this for a long time unless something goes really wrong. The most I might do in the near term is pay someone to run a camera under that part if possible to see what has happened. 
    WMno57
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,850
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    The lack of venting could have sucked the water out of the trap or pushed gas through it at the laundry tub.

    This is what @JUGHNE is trying to describe with the floor drain. there will be water in the trap but if someone broke out the plug to clean it and never replaced it, there will also be a hole open directly to the sewer.

    You will see this:


    but what is going on under the slab is this:


    WMno57CLamb
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
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    My floor drain does not have that. 
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,870
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    I'm guessing if you have floor drains in a basement that are connected to a sewer, especially in an older house, there's literally nothing in place for if the sewers back up?

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
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    ChrisJ said:
    I'm guessing if you have floor drains in a basement that are connected to a sewer, especially in an older house, there's literally nothing in place for if the sewers back up?
    Nope. 

    Prior to rebuilding the front porch and repairing the storm lateral it was entirely possible for the runoff from my roof to infiltrate into the sanitary line. And technically it still is even now after repairing it. Allow me to explain. The collapsed storm lateral actually caused all of the soil between it and the sanitary to wash out and since both were just clay tiles it could get into it easily enough. Now as long as the sanitary continued to flow freely there was no issue. But add in some tree roots from the neighbors very large maple tree, and some, ahem, soild waste and we end up with a very effective plug. That left no where for all of the roof run off to go but one place. If you guessed my basement via the floor drain you'd be right. It also came with everything that was built up in that sanitary. Water would also came up between cracks in the floor, and from pin holes in the foundation because the footer drain was also pressurized. 

    Let's just say I've had a **** night before. 

    Now I said this is technically still possible. If the storm and the sanitary were to both get blocked, or if the sanitary got blocked and enough flushing of toilets or draining of tubs, or really any other large volume of water found it's way into the sanitary while blocked I'll end up with a similar situation.

    The solution is to take advantage of the city's free snaking service. The city will come out and snake from the clean out at the side walk to the sewer main free of charge and if you sign a damage waiver they will snake up to the house as well. As long as I do this at least once a year, there is joy.

    Of course I could always install a back flow preventer but those require maintenance too and in theory if the soil around them gets saturated enough it could still find its way into the basement. 

    Where I'm at I've never actually had an issue with the sewers mains backing up into the basement... Yet. All of my problems have been with my own runoff. The city and sewer district actually have a maintenance program where they go around with a truck and vacuum out the sewers occasionally to prevent that. The city has also been installing rention basins for storm run off, have changed the ordnances to allow downspouts to be disconnected and run on to lawns. And the sewer district has been actively hunting down cross connections between the storms and sanitarys. 
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
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    To be clear since I've started proactively keeping the lateral free and clear and disconnected the downspouts I have not had a problem. And now with the storm lateral repaired the footer drain and whatever still manages to get into the down spout connections can flow freely as well. 

    The porch getting rebuilt also stopped the leaking from there into the old coal bin as well.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,870
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    I've seen what a backed up sewer can do, and because of that I decided if I ever put a slop sink in my basement it's getting a ball valve on it's 1.5" drain which will stay closed unless I use it.

    Unless I find a better, simpler way.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,095
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    For the most part, the floor drains here are the 1 piece as shown in the sewer cleaning picture above.

    The bottom of the floor drain has a 2" FPT opening, the CO is usually 1 1/4" sometimes 1 1/2". This applies to CI and PVC floor drains.

    The is a backflow device that screws into the 2" threads, it lets the water pass to the drain, but if there is any backflow of water. there is a ball that floats up to seal the opening.

    For the CI as it ages the threads are pretty bunged up.
    For a homemade tap, I take a 2" iron nipple and cut slots across the threads.
    Hammer the ends a little to make a taper on the end to start the nipple.
    This might clean the threads out to accept the PVC back flow preventer.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,767
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    @JUGHNE

    Hey! that homemade pipe tap is my idea LOL :)
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,095
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    ED, Great minds think alike! ;)
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
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    In regards to a back flow preventer on the trap, what happens at the basement shower drain, and toilet if there is one? :P sorry just being a smart ****.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,870
    edited December 2022
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    JakeCK said:
    In regards to a back flow preventer on the trap, what happens at the basement shower drain, and toilet if there is one? :P sorry just being a smart ****.
    Since I brought it up I'd never have one.
    And like I said,  if I ever put a sink down there is going to have something to stop brown gold from coming in.

    Ive seen exactly what happens and I don't want it 
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,404
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    That's assuming the "brown gold" stays in the pipe. Like I said the sewer lateral is clay, and the sewer mains are just as old. Back it up with enough pressure and it's going to ooze up through the cracks in the floors, no floor drain necessary.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,870
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    JakeCK said:

    That's assuming the "brown gold" stays in the pipe. Like I said the sewer lateral is clay, and the sewer mains are just as old. Back it up with enough pressure and it's going to ooze up through the cracks in the floors, no floor drain necessary.


    Understood.
    I don't have that issue. While I do still need to cut it all out and replace with PVC, my current piping is extra heavy duty cast iron from 1910-ish.

    I was planning on ripping it all out two years ago but other things came up. I'll get it done eventually.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    JakeCK
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 1,211
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    @JakeCK - if you have access to a thermal camera, you can run hot water down the drain line and look for thermal bloom in the slab at any breaks in the line.
    JUGHNEWMno57JakeCK