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Thread: Any Plumbers Here?

  1. #1
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    Any Plumbers Here?

    This one has me baffled... Flush the toilet a few times and pretty soon the P-trap in the shower is gurgling. Clogged vent, right? Went up on the roof and rodded 25' down the vent and pulled back nothing. My SO ran the shower and I could clearly hear the water flowing so I know I'm at the right vent. Flushed the toilet and same thing. Clearly heard the water flowing, no muffled sound at all.

    The vents in my house are only 1-1/2" but there's a vent for every fixture, except for two toilet/shower combos. This is a single story house on a slab. 8' ceilings and about a 4/12 pitch so that 25' of rodding at the vent went well into the drain line. I figured (hoped) that I must have pushed the obstruction clear so down I came and did a few flushes but it was hard to know for sure just by the sound (but I was doubtful). By the end of the day there was still no gurgling in the shower so I put the ladder and tools away and cleaned up.

    Next day, after many flushes, the gurgling starts again. Shower P-trap has emptied again.

    If the vent is clear, why is the P-trap in the shower emptying? This makes no sense.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  2. #2
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    I'm guessing the shower, and toilet are close together? If so, maybe they are sharing the same vent, and it tees off of the drain line between the two. Water from the toilet flush might take the whole volume of the drain line (maybe 3"), and closing off access to the vent from the shower drain as the flush passes. Assuming that the whole assembly is in the slab, probably the only simple thing to try would be to completely clean out the drain line between the toilet, and shower. If that line is partially clogged, it would be easier for the toilet flush to take the remaining open volume.

    This is just a guess, and without knowing exactly the layout, maybe doesn't apply at all.

  3. #3
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    I would snake out the shower drain if for no other reason than curiosity. Not knowing where the vent is in relation to the shower and the toilet is may worth a shot.
    George

    Making sawdust regularly, occasionally a project is completed.

  4. #4
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    This particular drain line starts with a floor drain in the garage, then the shower, the toilet and on to the front of the house where it probably picks up the laundry and kitchen sink. If the vent that serves the first three in that line runs straight up through the slab and through the roof, the vent tapped the drain line probably between the shower and toilet. But if the vent taps the drain line after the toilet and the drain is partially blocked, it's possible the waste coming from the toilet all at once closes the drain line before it gets to the vent and sucks the water out of the shower trap. That would make sense.

    Tomorrow I'll rod out from the shower and see how it goes. Did I mention I hate plumbing?
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by George Bokros View Post
    I would snake out the shower drain if for no other reason than curiosity. Not knowing where the vent is in relation to the shower and the toilet is may worth a shot.
    George, I had my reply above almost done a couple of hours ago when a neighbor stopped by. I brainstormed with him and came up with the above. I should have waited for your reply and saved some brain cells.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Vancouver Canada
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    I've seen this little problem more than once, and it never was the drain - but then I'm a contractor and handyman, so I can stand corrected.
    Usually in my locale (north of the Pacific Northwest) it's tree roots, which get into the sewer lines.
    When I encounter the issue, I normally just call up the city, and have them snake the lines out to the sewer outfall, and it cures the problem. Nothing against the plumber I use, but normally but having to return cash to a homeowner after the professional couldn't clear it schooled me quick.
    Young enough to remember doing it;
    Old enough to wish I could do it again.

  7. #7
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    There are no trees near the house that have that kind of root system. The only tree near the house is a frangipani, which has a very shallow root system and, according to what I've read, is not invasive.

    I just filled the shower basin to the top and opened it up. It drained in about 15 seconds. But when I tried rodding through the shower the head couldn't get through the P-trap. All I pulled up was a small bit of hair. Subsequent attempts brought up nothing. This is what I'm using, with a drill attached.



    I think the leading edge of the head wire is catching on the old cast pipe. That's what it feels like to me. No sign of roots or any other kind of obstruction.

    I've called about a dozen plumbers but so far none will rod out drain lines. Guess everyone wants the gravy work.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  8. #8
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    If you take the toilet up, there is no trap below it, so you could at least see if a partial obstruction near there is the culprit. You should be able to go as far as the snake is long from there, if you wanted to.

    I don't make any claim to be a Plumber, but did get my license in 1975, and installed the plumbing in all the new houses I built for 33 years. I never took on any repairs though, and never had a call-back on any of the new houses I sold, so no experience making repairs.

  9. #9
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    Like Tom says, I would now take up the toilet and try snaking from there. A toilet wax seal is not that expensive. I always use the seals with the plastic funnel shape outlet. If you have ceramic tile floor in bathroom and the toilet flange is not on top of the tile but on the sub-floor you may need two thickness of wax ring, one on top of the other. If you do need to use two use one with the plastic funnel and one without on top of the one with the plastic funnel.
    George

    Making sawdust regularly, occasionally a project is completed.

  10. #10
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    Thanks guys, but I'm not ready to pull the toilet. Yet... One of the reasons I never considered plumbing as an occupation is the, well... you know, the uh, um, the yucky stuff.

    That bathroom is in line for renovation. The floor is terrazzo and I want to leave it exposed but my SO wants tile. So until that issue is settled, I'll deal with the gurgling. But if we go with tile, the toilet has to be pulled. Maybe a gas mask is in my future...
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  11. #11
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    See if there is anybody with a camera I had them come out and the found the problem with one.

  12. #12
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    It's not really that bad having the toilet off. Have the seals already, pull it, snake it and then immediately reset the toilet. Maybe 45 min to an hour.
    George

    Making sawdust regularly, occasionally a project is completed.

  13. #13
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    One of the very few things that has seen improvement recently, in the building business, is that one can finally buy good quality toilet bolts. When I was building new houses, I always made my own out of stainless bolts that came all the way through the floor. Only in the past year or so have I seen stainless steel ones in the box stores. A dab of anti-sieze is extra insurance against the quality of the stainless. Of course, it is possible to break a toilet if cranking down too hard, but I don't spend time worrying about the future idiot factor-just future structure worries.

    The brass coated steel, normal ones, were never worth using, and I don't think I'm exaggerating saying that millions have rusted out causing leaking toilets, and millions of dollars of damage to houses.

    I also like the screw on caps, that simply screw onto the bolt, rather than snapping onto the soft washer that has to be put under the metal washer, and nut.

    I run a tap down on the bolt, and cut with a Dremel, throwing the debris from the cut into a wet paper towel. Screwing the tap off leaves good threads for the nut, and not too much height for the screw on cap to go all the way down.

    I spoke too soon saying that I didn't do repairs. I have reset leaking toilets if we are working on the house for other reasons too. When we show up, we can do anything that needs to be done.

    edited to add: I looked for a link to the nice, stainless bolt kit, but can't find them anywhere. It was maybe three years ago when I bought them. Someone probably broke a toilet with them, and they took them off the market-just a guess. I wish I had stocked up on them.
    Last edited by Tom M King; 11-09-2018 at 8:13 PM.

  14. #14
    Tom, You can still get solid brass toilet bolts, is there any advantage to the stainless over those?

  15. #15
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    In this Ask This Old House episode, the problem was a sagging sewer line.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVpbmHl9Mpc

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