sewer collapse question

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The HOA just sent out an email that there has been a sewer collapse and that the city was working on it. The city told the HOA that some might have problems with sewer gas getting into the house during the fixing because the workers would create a vaccum that might pull the water from the pipes in the house and that we should run water if we smelt gas. How far away from the construction should I be before I don't really need to worry about it?
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Until you can't smell it?
....
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Kurt,
Just do what they tell you. If you smell sewer gas, run the water in all of your sinks and tubs to refill the P traps. Takes about 10 seconds per fixture.
Dave M.
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Bob F wrote:

Actually , if the drains are properly vented there's no way a vacuum in the system can suck the p-traps dry .
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Snag wrote:

Hmmm, According to law of physics, I'd say. Any thing can happen to any thing any time.
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On 12/17/2013 10:11 PM, Tony Hwang wrote:

According to the laws of physics, perhaps you're correct. Highly unusual for it to occur though if the caveat "PROPERLY VENTED" is accurate.
I wonder though if the city was actually cautioning him about the storm sewers. Floor drain in the basement is generally (again GENERALLY) not supposed to be tied in the the sanitary sewer line which is vent, however it if is -as may well be the case here (hence the city's concern) - I don't think that that sewer drain is tied into the vent stack in the house. Perhaps it's supposed to be but I've seen too many where it's not.
If I was the original poster, I would check to make sure there's water in the p-traps and if I wasn't absolutely sure that the basement drain was NOT connected to the affected line, I'd install a pressure plug until the crisis passed so that whether they suck the line clear or try to blow it clear, the crap would take the path of least resistance and not fill up my basement.
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Unquestionably Confused wrote:

Hi, Wonder if area had heavy snow fall plugging up the vents?(remote chance) Sewage back up is covered by insurance. I have check valve installed on my basement drain. Here in June we had biggest flood in 45 years. My daughter's basement was total loss due to sewage back up. Tallied damage was almost !00K which insurance co. paid reluctantly. Feel sorry about folks who suffered over flowing surface water damage. Daughter had a sump pump but when power went out... Now she has new pump with battery and gen set back up installed for the next time in case...
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On 12/17/2013 11:34 PM, Tony Hwang wrote:

There is an emergency sump pump system that's run by city water. I looked in to getting one for an old(90) customer of mine before I became too ill to do physical labor. ^_^
http://www.basepump.com/Products/Basepump.html
TDD
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The email from the city specifcially mentioned waste water sewer and warned of sewer gasses getting into house. Wouldn't both of those together indicate not a storm sewer??

How would I do that?
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On 12/18/2013 5:57 AM, Kurt Ullman wrote:

See if you can remove the grate or drain screen on your floor drain. Most are removable.
Any Big Box or decent hardware store will have a suitable plug in the plumbing section. It's nothing more than a 3" high or so rubber "cork" slightly smaller in diameter than the sewer pipe. The rubber has a metal "washer" on the bottom and top and a threaded rod in the center. You insert the plug in the sewer/drain and snug it down with a wrench which expands the plug (the outside diameter of which has little rubber ridges to grip tightly) and effectively closes off the drain. Nothing passes either way.
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We have a finished basement and I honestly can't remember seeing anything that looks like that. Is it buried under the carpet?
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On Tuesday, December 17, 2013 11:47:32 PM UTC-5, Unquestionably Confused wrote:

The only way it could happen would be for there to be a vacuum large enough so that the air from the various vents would not be sufficient to reduce it enough and there was still enough vacuum to pull the water from the traps. Given that we're not talking about just one house, but presumably many houses, it would sure seem to me that either a lot of houses would have to have no venting or it would have to be one hell of a vacuum being created on the sewer main. I don't see why they would be creating any substantial vacuum to begin with.
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On 12/18/2013 8:25 AM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

If they are working in a primary chase, they will want to rapidly remove the toxic gases (will kill you if inhaled) out of the system as rapidly as possible, and keep a fresh air inlet open while the vacuum is applied. A lot of this is overkill, but the hazard is there.
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On 12/18/2013 8:25 AM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Oh, to play the nit picker...
The vacuum does not pull the water. The water is pushed. :-)
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On Wednesday, December 18, 2013 11:43:01 AM UTC-5, Irreverent Maximus wrote:

Idle speculation: if the vacuum got the water started over the top of the P-trap, a siphon would be created that would not stop until all the water had been removed.
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On 12/18/2013 10:32 PM, TimR wrote:

Or, until the trap is empty enough to allow air from above the trap to pass through. This would break the siphon, and any further water evacuation would be via venturi like mechanics. A strong enough air flow could possibly lift ripplets of water and take them away. Plus, the air flow could increase evaporation.
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On Wednesday, December 18, 2013 11:40:27 PM UTC-5, Irreverent Maximus wrote:

Also I suspect water in a trap is not an impenetrable barrier to gases.
I shouldn't say what my evidence is for that.
Oh, all right, I will. When I was in college I once saw a gadget the kids called a bong, I dunno if it has an engineering name. I'm not sure the usage is entirely legal.
It had a trap filled with smelly water, but differential pressure was sufficient to pull heated air through water and out the top.
I've also run into a case where the exhaust fan on a bathroom seemed to be able to pull sewer smell up through traps even though they were kept full. The door fit too tightly and/or the fan was too strong.
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On 12/19/2013 7:20 AM, TimR wrote:

[snip]

However it did not have an operable vent stack between the trap and the orifice to which you applied the necessary vacuum. If you recall otherwise it must have been some really good heated air<g>
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On Thursday, December 19, 2013 8:36:59 AM UTC-5, Unquestionably Confused wrote:

Sigh, and completely different settup. It's kind of the reverse of a P-trap. It's designed to let AIR pass through water. If it was designed like a P-trap with a blocked vent, you'd be sucking the water out until you finally got to the air.
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On Thursday, December 19, 2013 10:34:33 AM UTC-5, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

It's certainly a U-trap though, and even in a plumbing P trap all the water is in the U.
Hmmm.......?
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