Sewer smell ?????

Discussion in 'General Plumbing Help' started by ProFlowPlumbing, May 28, 2010.

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  1. May 28, 2010 #1

    ProFlowPlumbing

    ProFlowPlumbing

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    I have this ongoing issue with a new client.A two story apartment complex with two downstairs residents complaining of a sewer smell coming fom their fixtures.I checked one residence and found the traps to be primed adequately.I snaked the drains and they are clear.I got up on the roof and snaked the vents with no obstructions.The only thing coming to mind is if the place is wet vented floor to floor somehow.Possibly unpriming a tub trap:confused:
    Any ideas would be certainly appreciated.
     
  2. May 28, 2010 #2

    phishfood

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    The only thing that occurs to me immediately is to ask if any of the fixtures are vented with an air admittance valve. Perhaps the valve is sticking, or a fixture on the floor above is causing a positive pressure, which the AAV cannot relieve?

    Back to back laundries, and maybe a shred of cloth is wicking the traps dry?

    Perhaps next time you have to go there for this issue, run a small cable through the tub overflows and down into the trap to see if it comes back dry or wet? That would tell you if the trap has water in it or not.

    Just throwing ideas out there.
     
  3. May 28, 2010 #3

    havasu

    havasu

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    Did you confirm that the smell is coming from the vicinity of their traps? Reason being is when I worked for my city, we had fielded lots of calls regarding sewer smells, and many turned out to be a city "public works" problem, with the sewer having clogs, backing up into homes. Just a thought!
     
  4. May 29, 2010 #4

    ProFlowPlumbing

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    Hmmm. Okay thanks for the tips.I was thinking the same thing about it being a city sewer main, but the traps would still have to be dry in order for the smell to come through.I will run a snake into the tub traps and see if it gets wet.
    Strange thing is that when i show up, the resident says that it does'nt smell right now. The guy seems honest and he tells me that when they get home from work the whole apartment smells like sewer.Now his next door neighbor is complaining of the same problem.I am scheduled to go back over there on Tuesday.I'll let you know what i find.This time i'm going into the attic too.Comes to mind that if they have too many fixtures on a 2" vent, then maybe it is sucking air through a trap(did i miss something?).These are two story apartments and they are back to back as well,so.......its going to be a tough one.:rolleyes:
     
  5. May 29, 2010 #5

    havasu

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    It doesn't cost a penny to contact your public works department to verify there have been no other complaints, and if it was like my city, those guys are great and have no problem flushing, snaking, and checking the sewer lines with the cameras.
     
  6. May 30, 2010 #6

    Reedwalker

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    All good thoughts guys.

    Whenever I get a "sewer smell" call I tell the customer "This is where plumbing meets voodoo" I think I find the problem 20% of the time and that's usually an obviously dry trap.

    To further my point. Last week I was at a customers house to replace a garbage disposal. The sink drain on the left was trapped. The disposal was piped directly into the drain with no trap. I started asking if the homeowner has had "smell" issues. The lady of the house told me, "never".

    Good Luck with this one. I can't wait to hear how it turned out.
     
  7. May 30, 2010 #7

    havasu

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    I'm waiting to find out it was just a dead rat in the attic!
     
  8. May 30, 2010 #8

    phishfood

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    That right there makes me even more suspicious of a tub trap, maybe being wicked dry by hair or the like. Resident takes a shower before work, recharging the trap. Leaves for work, trap dries out, sewer smell, gets home and takes another shower. Or maybe a lav trap? Sounds like something to do with morning rituals, at any rate.
     
  9. Jun 2, 2010 #9

    ProFlowPlumbing

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    Well they cancelled on me today.Apparently a timing conflict for one of the residents.However, i did contact Public Works Sewer Department and they are sending a crew out tomorrow.They mentioned something about some grease traps along that mainline and taking a few samples from a nearby manhole.:eek:Pretty much in the :rolleyes:Over My Head Department.I can only wonder, but they did say that they would inform me of their findings.
    I'll let you know how it goes.
     
  10. Jun 2, 2010 #10

    havasu

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    Whether it helps or not, it sounds like your Public Works Department are great people, as mine are. If you have a chance, please sent off an appreciation letter to their supervisors, they will be extremely grateful! In these days of massive job cuts, they are usually the ones who get the short straw, and a letter from you could change how long their straw is!
     
  11. Jun 10, 2010 #11

    Mr_David

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    Looking for sewer odors is tricky. Check the base of the water closets.
    If loose, pull and reset with new wax seal and caulk the base.
    I've found broken vents inside walls.
    We had an old commercial building.Cast iron pipe. There was a mexican restaurant across the street that seemed to create a lot of sewer gas and it would blow out the vents on the flat roofed building. We had a guy come in who specialized in smoke testing the sewer system. He blew smoke into the vent. Smoke came out of walls were pipes are cracked and from the base of several water closets.

    Just because the toilet seems tight to the floor doesn't mean its gas tight.
    I had a co-worker recently reset a new toilet ( just happened to be in the same bldg we had smoked). He had a bad sewer smell.

    That's because my co-worker didn't set the W/C correctly.
    The picture says it all

    work 002a.jpg
     
  12. Jun 10, 2010 #12

    havasu

    havasu

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    "There was a mexican restaurant across the street that seemed to create a lot of sewer gas and it would blow out the vents"

    So much is said in this sentence! :D:D:D
     
  13. Jun 12, 2010 #13

    Reedwalker

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    OMFG Kilroy! How does that even occur?!? Was he drunk? Is he still your co-worker?

    I would have fired him for incompetence immediately!
     
  14. Jun 17, 2010 #14

    ProFlowPlumbing

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    Well i finally met with the head sewer guy,apartment manager,and the resident from one of the smelly apartments (i still could'nt smell anything).You are right about the Public works guy.He was very helpful and super informative.We all got a first hand look at the inside of the two nearest sewer manholes. They were clear:D.
    I had my helper camera the down stairs drains while i snaked the upstairs drains, therefore eliminating the possibility of floor to floor wet venting.Traps were primed at that time:rolleyes:.So i did find something questionable in the attic.Two vents:( A 2" and an 1 1/2". So two baths back to back down stairs and two baths back to back up stairs all on the 2" vent.:eek:Thats cutting it close on max fixture units allowed on a 2" vent. The 1 1/2" picking up the two kithchen sinks.....no prob there.
    Any way they are clearing a garage to give me access to the lateral c/o. I'll jet it and see what happens.
    The letter of thanks is now on my list of things to do. They deserve it.
    Also want to thank you guys for the help.:)
     

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