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Author Topic: Bathroom Explosion!
Demosthenes
SuperBlabberMouth!
Member # 530

Icon 11 posted January 01, 2006 17:35      Profile for Demosthenes     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So I'm going to be demonstrably girly and tell you all straight-up that I don't know jack about plumbing.

That said, well, my roommate and I are good to our bathroom. We don't put anything down the drains or flush anything down the toilet that we're not supposed to. Sure, it's messy, but we like to keep it working.

So would somebody like to tell me why, after remaining unused for most of the day, the toilet decided to overflow and spray potty-water all over the bathroom? What the hell happened? There's snow on the ground, but the pipes aren't frozen. The house is kind of old, but we've never had a problem like that before. I cleaned up the flood, threw out my toothbrush (ewww), opened up the tank and looked uncomprehendingly for something that might've been wrong, and even took a plunger to it to make sure there wasn't any kind of clog. Thankfully, it was just straight water and nothing exceedingly gross, but I'm...well, let's just say concerned.

The roommate surmises that it was a "gas bubble, trapped in the pipes, feeding back." Does this really happen or have grad school applications fried his brain so hard that he's making things up?

Should I do anything to prevent this from happening again? I'm a drunken Irish girl, I spend a solid amount of time hunched over that bowl, I don't want it to "feed back" and spray me in the face when I'm on the verge of making a tequila deposit.

Oh, and as a plumbing-unrelated postscript, happy New Year's! [Razz]

Posts: 1349 | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged
nerdwithnofriends
Uber Geek
Member # 3773

Icon 1 posted January 01, 2006 17:39      Profile for nerdwithnofriends     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
While I may not be a plumber, I will offer this nugget of advice:

You need an asscrack.


That's right. No plumber can practice his trade without an asscrack, and it has to be visible to the rest of the world while he is doing is thing. It's the sign of his trade.

/random

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"The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower." - Robert M. Pirsig

Posts: 948 | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
zesovietrussian
SuperBlabberMouth!
Member # 1177

Icon 1 posted January 01, 2006 18:42      Profile for zesovietrussian     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
1. Pick up the phone
2. Call the landlord, bitch about the overflowing toilet
3. Profit
[Razz]
Also, find out if it's public sewer or a septic tank. If it's the latter, make sure you don't flush anything other than... well, you know. TP or any other foreign objects are a big no-no.

Posts: 1094 | From: Boston | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
GrumpySteen

Solid Nitrozanium SuperFan
Member # 170

Icon 1 posted January 01, 2006 20:10      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Dunno the details of what sort of place you live in, but I would guess it's not a gas bubble. A gas bubble is likely to be the cause only if you have a septic tank rather than city sewer and the pipes are blocked somewhere. With nowhere for the gas to go, it builds up and can force liquid back up the pipes to the lowest altitude drain available (likely to be the toilet and/or bathtub drains).

I would guess that you live in an apartment and your plumbing is hooked up to the city sewer works. If that's the case and the pipes are partially clogged, enough people flushing and running water down drains at the same time can overload the system and whoever has the lowest altitude drain gets the excess (once again, the toilet and/or bathtub are likely candidates). zesovietrussian's advice applies here.

Either way, you might want to scrub the tub before you take your next bath or shower.

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Worst. Celibate. Ever.

Posts: 6364 | From: Tennessee | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
The Famous Druid

Gold Hearted SuperFan!
Member # 1769

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Icon 1 posted January 01, 2006 21:27      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Dunno the technical cause, but something similar happened to an ex-roommate of mine.

He was on his 'meet the parents' visit to his new girlfriends home, went to use the facilities, and the toilet exploded, showering him and the entire room with substances best left undescribed.

So Demosthenes, consider yourself lucky.

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If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

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Doco

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Icon 1 posted January 01, 2006 21:40      Profile for Doco   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Having done my time as "slave labor" to my dad helping fix/remodel an old house I know a little about plumbing.

If it sprayed the bathroom - it almost has to be a gas bubble that did it. Just a normal backup of sewage would have filled the tub and if enough overflowed the toilet. With the normal backup I have been there - done that - cleaned it - YUCK!

Normal plumbing is supposed to be vented, so that as gas comes back up the pipes it does not bubble out the toilet or sink or tub. Every septic system produces lots of gas - it's a by product of crap (literally) decomposing. With city sewer you might not get much coming up into your house, but with private septic tanks you get lots of it. Now I would bet that a vent pipe was plumbed in, but it may be clogged. Birds and squirells love to fall down them, die, and then have more leaves pile up on top of them. Up on the roof with a plumbers snake and you can generally clear them out pretty easily. Even just a hose running a lot of water down the vent can sometimes clear it out.

To get a better idea of what might be happening - describe the house and where this bathroom is in it. Is this the only bathroom, is there another on the same floor, or a floor above or below? Are the bathrooms above/below generally right on top of one another, or are they on different sides of the building? Are you hooked to city sewer/water? Is this an apartment building? Is there isn't a bathroom on the floor below (or in the basement) is there a sink or floor drain there? Did you see anything back up into your sink or tub? If it was in the tub you WILL see a disgustingly dirty line where the water backed up to.

Posts: 419 | From: Minneapolis, MN | Registered: Mar 2000  |  IP: Logged
magefile
Highlie
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Icon 1 posted January 01, 2006 22:36      Profile for magefile     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by zesovietrussian:
If it's the latter, make sure you don't flush anything other than... well, you know. TP or any other foreign objects are a big no-no.

Not necessarily. I'm not familiar with land-based septics, but you can get TP that is specifically designed to be flushed into marine septics. It's less than optimal (you have to flush frequently, because of the small diameter of the pipes), but it works pretty well if you're careful.

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Let them be stupid - the market will sort it out.

Posts: 743 | From: Massachusetts | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
Demosthenes
SuperBlabberMouth!
Member # 530

Icon 1 posted January 02, 2006 09:11      Profile for Demosthenes     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Doco:
To get a better idea of what might be happening - describe the house and where this bathroom is in it. Is this the only bathroom, is there another on the same floor, or a floor above or below? Are the bathrooms above/below generally right on top of one another, or are they on different sides of the building? Are you hooked to city sewer/water? Is this an apartment building? Is there isn't a bathroom on the floor below (or in the basement) is there a sink or floor drain there? Did you see anything back up into your sink or tub? If it was in the tub you WILL see a disgustingly dirty line where the water backed up to.

It's a two-family house, there's a bathroom upstairs and ours is near the front of the house. I couldn't tell you where the upstairs neighbor's john is, but we're assuming it's right above ours...that seems to be the standard for two-families in the are.

I'm pretty sure we're connected to the city sewers; it would be weird to be hooked up to a septic tank in someplace this urban. No bathroom or drains in the basement, just the washing machine.

Luckily, no backup into the sink or tub; just weird behavior from the john. We've been flushing it all day, though, and it hasn't happened again.

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zesovietrussian
SuperBlabberMouth!
Member # 1177

Icon 1 posted January 02, 2006 11:47      Profile for zesovietrussian     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You should still give the landlord a call - after all, you don't want poor old johnny to regurgitate the contents of his "stomach" after one too many flushes while you're performing the above procedure after one too many beers [Smile]
Posts: 1094 | From: Boston | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Doco

SuperFan!
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Icon 1 posted January 02, 2006 16:44      Profile for Doco   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yeah - raise a little "stink" with the landlord. It shouldn't happen.

If it was only the toilet, and there was no backup in the tub, or backup and overflow from the washing machine drain in the basement - then you have a problem with just that one fixture. That limits where the problems could be.

Now - not to accuse your roomie of anything - but are you sure it wasn't a story she made up to cover for an embarassing situation of plugging the toilet and then making a mess out of trying to plunge it? (Cleaned up one of those from my kids once.... sigh) It is amazing how far water can squirt when the push the plunger hard, and it isn't seated just right.

I suppose it is possible for a blockage to occur in the main vertical drain line (called the "stack") and then have a toilet flush from upstairs come down compressing the air in between and that air coming out through your toilet. Howe ver, I think that is pretty unlikely. The main stack is usually at least 4" in diameter (often 6
") - which means that a toilet flush from upstairs will never fill it completely, which means you don't get the air compression I just talked about.

If it really sprayed/squirted out of the toilet (and not just overflowed) I am pretty much at a loss to explain how it would happen. A normal overflow - that's just a plugged toilet. My kids are great at plugging the toilet - but only using enough TP so that you don't see that it is plugged. You flush and it just overflows. A plugged toilet with a flapper that leaks a little will overflow itself after a while.

Just some more ideas and ramblings of mine.

Posts: 419 | From: Minneapolis, MN | Registered: Mar 2000  |  IP: Logged


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