Plumbing

Group:
Had a really curious situation that I've never encountered before. This morning for about five minutes all of my sinks and toilets started violently 'gluging' and 'burping'. The water in the toilet pans started splashing around, bubbling a and emptied. It sounded a bit like whole-house indigestion! Any ideas what it was and how to prevent it?
Cheers
Den
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Sounds like a clogged vent--birds, squirrels??? MLD

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Den wrote:

Where are you located and is this a city sewer system or septic?? Jim
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Los Angeles, city sewer.

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Den wrote:

Since you reported that no water was being used/flushed at the time, it had to be caused by a disturbance in the city sewer. Assuming this is a single-family residence (one floor/slab?), a momentary overload of the street sewer can back up into the house lateral line. As the backup progresses toward the house, it forces air ahead of it. Normally, that air simply goes up the stack vent. But if the backup goes far enough it can flood the house sewer to the point where the vent is ineffective. Then the air is forced out of fixtures, such as toilets and sinks which may not have separate vent connections. As the flooding recedes, it will siphon water out of traps which are not protected by proper venting.
A blocked vent *could* make this situation worse, but you would expect to hear gurgling at other times (such as when toilets are flushed).
Ask neighbors if they experienced the same thing at the time or see what answers the city has <chuckle>. Jim

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Den wrote:

Was there a lot of wind then? Are you sure the vents are clear? Are you in a single-detached home or an apartment?
--
Joseph E. Meehan

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No wind (other than that eminating from the bowels of the sewer system!) Not sure if the vents are clear - how do I tell? Single detached home.
D

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Den wrote:

How many vents are on your roof (look like pipes sticking out of the roof?
Yea, do you like walking on your roof?

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Joseph E. Meehan

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Joseph,
Can't get up there today ... but from memory there are at least three.
A thought ... this all happened when there was no water being emptied into the sewer system ... and about two hours since the any volume of significance (shower + toilet) had been emptied.
Why would this happen when the system was quiescent?
Cheers
D

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Den wrote:

It could have been from the outside (like a neighbor), but a good vent system should have allowed it to escape to the outside without any notice from you.
This may not be the best test, but you should be able to run a hose down there full force for some time without any backup. You would need to check each vent.
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Joseph E. Meehan

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