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Plumbing Advice Needed

danmitch1

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Dec 15, 2007
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1,349
Hey guys, this afternoon in MTL we had a major rain storm, probably the biggest ive seen since living in my current apartment (roughly 5 years). I live on the ground floor of a 1940 era sixplex.

My toilet started gargling, so i closed the lid and for the duration of the storm the toilet continued to violently gargle.. i was freeking out anticipating a flood of sewage and surrounded it with old towels..

The whole storm lasted about 10 minutes. I then called the city, I was told to call my landlord so he could get a plumber to assess if the problem is on his property or the city.

My landlord is passed retirement and just gave me the runaround saying he recently had the roof vent replaced (he also said my bathroom that looks like its from the 80's was recently renovated lol).
He said he'd talk to a plumber and asked me to ask around. Hes a real nice man and means well so im trying to get as much info as i can before going the legal route.
 

Valkyrie

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Chilliwack...Time Is Just A Rubber Band....
This indicates some pressure building in the vent system and if some work was done recently that could be the problem. Was the rain accompanied by high winds possibly from an odd direction? Does the landlord know exactly what was done to the system?
 

danmitch1

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Dec 15, 2007
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This indicates some pressure building in the vent system and if some work was done recently that could be the problem. Was the rain accompanied by high winds possibly from an odd direction? Does the landlord know exactly what was done to the system?
Hmm, not sure if the wind was coming from an odd direction but some trees blew down near by so for sure some powerful wind gusts.

I'll have to ask him about what exactly was done work wise.
 

clshades

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Calgary
If it's a combined sewer then this is to be expected. Combined sewer means it's tied to the rain water drain system and was probably nearly overwhelmed. I wouldn't expect issues unless it's an insane rain storm. Nothing can really be done unless the drain pipe size is increased or the venting system is upgraded.

For me this is the only explanation. If the system wasn't combined you wouldn't have noticed anything.

If the sewer mains were overloaded then the backwater valve may have failed, if there even is one. The only way to know is to camera the drains.

Backwater valve prevents sewer from entering the household drain system from the street. Typically, in my area, backwater valves are the normally open type, old school places have the normally closed type. If the valve flapper is broken then it needs to be dug up and replaced. This is an owner issue, not a city issue.

The city might be able to tell you if the sewer and rain system are tied together. This could be a 5000 dollar repair if the valve is there and failed. All the places I would do here, would have an access panel to the backwater valve as the internals can be repaired.
 
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danmitch1

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Dec 15, 2007
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If it's a combined sewer then this is to be expected. Combined sewer means it's tied to the rain water drain system and was probably nearly overwhelmed. I wouldn't expect issues unless it's an insane rain storm. Nothing can really be done unless the drain pipe size is increased or the venting system is upgraded.

For me this is the only explanation. If the system wasn't combined you wouldn't have noticed anything.

If the sewer mains were overloaded then the backwater valve may have failed, if there even is one. The only way to know is to camera the drains.

Backwater valve prevents sewer from entering the household drain system from the street. Typically, in my area, backwater valves are the normally open type, old school places have the normally closed type. If the valve flapper is broken then it needs to be dug up and replaced. This is an owner issue, not a city issue.

The city might be able to tell you if the sewer and rain system are tied together. This could be a 5000 dollar repair if the valve is there and failed. All the places I would do here, would have an access panel to the backwater valve as the internals can be repaired.
Yeah, I do believe its a combined sewer as I hear that when the MTL drain system is overloaded, it overflows raw sewage into the St Lawrence river...
My landlord did mention the backwater flap thing too, saying that it was installed by law, but as I mentioned, hes stuck in a different era and probably had that installed several decades ago.. who knows if it failed. On that thought though, wouldn't more than air come up if that valve failed, or even fill my bathtub with nasty sewage too?

Thanks for your replies guys!
 

clshades

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Calgary
Yeah, I do believe its a combined sewer as I hear that when the MTL drain system is overloaded, it overflows raw sewage into the St Lawrence river...
My landlord did mention the backwater flap thing too, saying that it was installed by law, but as I mentioned, hes stuck in a different era and probably had that installed several decades ago.. who knows if it failed. On that thought though, wouldn't more than air come up if that valve failed, or even fill my bathtub with nasty sewage too?

Thanks for your replies guys!
If it's just air you're getting then you're probably fine. I'd definitely want to see the flapper is there if it were me. Not sure what the cover plates look like there, here they are about a 12" plastic disk. Normally located where there isn't any finished flooring.

Are you higher than street level? No basement? This is why combined sewers were made illegal here.
 

danmitch1

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If it's just air you're getting then you're probably fine. I'd definitely want to see the flapper is there if it were me. Not sure what the cover plates look like there, here they are about a 12" plastic disk. Normally located where there isn't any finished flooring.

Are you higher than street level? No basement? This is why combined sewers were made illegal here.
Im about 1.5' above street level with a crawl space. I guess I could brave the nasty crawl space to inspect the drain my self.
My landlord just called me actually.. apparently he talked with his plumber and was advised that it was because of the freak rain storm and that we are lucky that is all we got... some apartments one borough over got flooded.. I guess I just need to remember to keep the toilet lid closed.. I was also thinking since i have access to the crawl space, maybe I could install an "emergency" floor drain in the bathroom...
 

sswilson

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Im about 1.5' above street level with a crawl space. I guess I could brave the nasty crawl space to inspect the drain my self.
My landlord just called me actually.. apparently he talked with his plumber and was advised that it was because of the freak rain storm and that we are lucky that is all we got... some apartments one borough over got flooded.. I guess I just need to remember to keep the toilet lid closed.. I was also thinking since i have access to the crawl space, maybe I could install an "emergency" floor drain in the bathroom...
We see this (air bubbles / gurgling) occasionally in our basement toilet when the city flushes the system in our neighborhood. Unfortunately... if it does actually decide to overflow, closing the toilet lid isn't going to do much.... :)
 

danmitch1

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We see this (air bubbles / gurgling) occasionally in our basement toilet when the city flushes the system in our neighborhood. Unfortunately... if it does actually decide to overflow, closing the toilet lid isn't going to do much.... :)
LOL for sure.. maybe put a cinder block on it :D
 

clshades

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Im about 1.5' above street level with a crawl space. I guess I could brave the nasty crawl space to inspect the drain my self.
My landlord just called me actually.. apparently he talked with his plumber and was advised that it was because of the freak rain storm and that we are lucky that is all we got... some apartments one borough over got flooded.. I guess I just need to remember to keep the toilet lid closed.. I was also thinking since i have access to the crawl space, maybe I could install an "emergency" floor drain in the bathroom...
An emergency floor drain wouldn't help much if it's tied to the same mains. If anything it would make the problem worse as it then becomes the lowest fixture. If you have a crawl space you can always see if there is a backwater valve installed. I'd be adding one if there isn't.
 
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