Your Building’s Drainage System: How it Works and Repair Options

Understanding Sewer Repair For Condominium Buildings

Was your condominium or apartment building built before 1985? Are you experiencing regular toilet stoppages and backups, tree root intrusion, or sewer odors? If so, the long-term solution is NOT having your sewer lines snaked every few months.

Property Managers, HOA/Condominium Board Members, and homeowners face a real challenge today, especially in areas where a large majority of condominiums are built prior to 1985 such as South Florida. The older the building, the more property managers and board members need to be aware of the infrastructure systems within the building. As we know, EVERYTHING needs to be maintained. This article will highlight the basics that you need to know about your building’s drainage system – how it works, common types of pipes, and what your options are for repair.

Did you know?: The structural integrity of your building’s sanitary drainage system is NOT inspected during 40-year recertification inspections. (source: http://www.miamidade.gov/permits/library/structural-recertification.pdf)

Understanding Your Building’s Sanitary Drainage System

In a multi-story building such as a condominium complex, the sanitary drainage system consists of three main components – vertical stacks, branch lines, and horizontal underground lines.Condominium Sewer Pipe Repair

Types of Vertical Stacks

Stacks are vertical lines of pipe that extend from the horizontal building drain under the slab or in the basement up to and through the roof of the building. Although the general direction in which these pipes run is vertical, they may be offset or run in a horizontal position on upper floors and still be identified as a vertical stack. In the industry, these pipes are either known as soil stacks, waste stacks, or vent stacks depending on the purposes which they serve.

Soil Stacks

The distinguishing factor that gives soil stacks their name is that they receive a discharge from water closets and urinals. Clean water fixtures such as sinks and showers may also tie into soil stacks.

Waste Stacks

Waste stacks are tied into clean-water fixtures only – such as sinks, showers, bathtubs, lavatories, and the like. Waste stacks never receive waste from fixtures such as water closets or urinals. If a fixture such as a water closet or urinal was ever tied into a waste stack, it would thereupon become a soil stack.

Vent Stacks

Vent stacks carry no liquids. Their role is to provide airflow through the drainage system so that when water flows through branches and stacks the traps will not be forced by backpressure. The portion of a vertical stack that is above the highest fixture tie in becomes a vent stack.

Leaders

Rain leaders are vertical stacks in that they extend from the horizontal storm drain or combined sewer drain to the roof. They are called rain leaders because they transport rainwater only.

Branch Lines

Branch Lines are offshoots of vertical stacks, like branches of a tree. These branch lines connect toilets, showers, sinks, washing machines, dishwashers, etc. to the corresponding vertical stack, which carries waste to the building’s drain underground or in the basement.

Horizontal Underground Lines

Horizontal Lines run underneath the building’s slab, often under common areas such as the lobby and individual ground floor units. These lines are typically 6-8″ in diameter depending on the size of the building. Since sanitary drainage is gravity-powered, underground main lines are slightly pitched to carry waste away from the building into the city sewer. The horizontal pipe that receives the discharge from waste and soil stacks and is located within the footprint of the building is called the “building drain” and thereafter is known as the “building sewer”.

Common Types of Pipes in Your Building

Here in South Florida, the most common pipe used in sanitary drainage in older buildings is cast iron. Next up is clay. Newer buildings, however, are often built with PVC. Here is a brief overview of these different piping materials.

Cast Iron Pipes

cast iron pipe crack
Cast iron sewer pipes have a life-use expectancy of 25-35 Years and then they begin to develop cracks and channels. (photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdickert/)

Cast iron piping is still by far the most common material used for sanitary drainage in multi-story buildings such as condominiums and apartment buildings.

Here are some key advantages of cast iron pipe that come into play:

  • Cast iron drainage pipes offer durability and can support 4,877 lbs per linear foot.
  • Cast iron piping reduces noise due to its density, which is an important selling point for condominiums, apartment buildings, and hotels.
  • Fire-resistance is another key factor of cast iron pipes as they will neither burn nor contribute to the spread of fire.

The main disadvantages include:

  • Cast iron piping is expensive.
  • Cast iron has a relatively short lifespan of 25-35 Years (in South Florida).

After cast iron’s expected life-use of 25-35 Years in South Florida, the pipes can be expected to begin developing channels in horizontal lines and cracks in both horizontal and vertical lines. Buildings in close proximity to the ocean experience accelerated cast iron pipe deterioration due to the salt in the air which is pulled down the vent stacks and the fact that the underground cast iron pipes are often submerged in saltwater twice a day with high tide. Salt and cast iron is a corrosive combination. Cast iron piping, however, is often still favored over PVC in condominium applications due to the advantages listed at the outset.

Vitrified Clay Pipes

 

clay sewer pipe repair
Vitrified clay piping dates back to 4000 B.C.E., however, is rarely used today. – – (source: http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/algojo-43026)

Clay sewer pipes are most common in historic homes and buildings. Vitrified clay sewer pipes have been in use since ancient times with the earliest known example dating back to Babylonia, 4000 B.C.E.

Advantages of vitrified clay piping include:

  • Durability
  • Chemical resistant material for sanitary drainage

However, the disadvantages of clay pipes include:

  • Clay is very susceptible to tree root intrusion as the porous outer surface is easy for roots to attach to
  • Very heavy and hard to cut
  • You most likely will not find it in your neighborhood home improvement store.

Source: http://www.sewerhistory.org/grfx/components/pipe-cly1.htm

PVC Piping

 

PVC sewer pipes
Studies suggest that PVC pipes have a service life of 100 or more years. (source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fontplaydotcom/)

Starting in the 1970’s PVC pipes began to be installed in mass quantities. Cast iron proponents would say that not enough time has yet elapsed to determine the service life of PVC, however, studies suggest a 100-year or more lifespan for PVC. (source: http://www.plasticsnews.com/article/20140515/NEWS/140519940/study-100-year-life-for-pvc-pipe-conservative).

PVC versus Cast Iron has been a hot topic in the pipe manufacturing industry for years. However certain advantages are clear and include:

  • Longevity
  • Cost efficiency

However certain disadvantages are clear as well and include:

  • Non-fire-resistant, additional fire-stopping measures required upon installation.
  • Carcinogenic fumes when exposed to excessive heat.
  • Not as strong as cast iron.
  • Noisy water transportation (not ideal for multi-story residential buildings such as condominiums and hotels).

Conventional Sewer Replacement

 

Conventional Pipe Repair
Conventional pipe replacement requires access to the old pipes by means of trenching floors and tearing out walls.

Conventional pipe replacement is a MAJOR undertaking for condominium buildings. Now that you understand where the pipes run in your building and know the typical lifespan of cast iron pipes, you may have an idea of what would be involved with replacing those pipes traditionally, tearing out walls, tearing out custom floor finishes and slab, relocating tenants, extensive mess, expense, etc.

Trenchless Pipe Lining Sewer Repair

Pipelining – also known as Trenchless Pipe Lining, C.I.P.P. (Cured-In-Place-Pipelining) – is the process of repairing sewer pipes without digging or destruction. In a nutshell, an epoxy saturated felt liner is inserted into the pipe which is inflated, cures in place, and leaves behind a brand new pipe.

 

The advantages of trenchless pipe lining include:

  • Sewer repairs to be made without tearing out walls or floors
  • Saves your building 30-40% of the cost of traditional sewer replacement
  • Trenchless sewer repair allows for residents to stay in their home during repairs
  • Can be completed in a fraction of the time involved with traditional sewer replacement.

In South Florida, we deal with many condominiums built as far back as the 1960s that have cast iron and have not yet set aside a budget for repair. If your building was built before 1985, you need to start budgeting for pipe repair now to avoid dishing out costly assessments in the case of sanitary sewer failure. Your first step to diagnosing the condition of your sanitary sewer would be a comprehensive video inspection. If you are within our service area in Southeast Florida we would be happy to provide you with the needed assistance. Call Pipelining Technologies today at 561-853-5463 or click here to contact us!

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84 thoughts on “Your Building’s Drainage System: How it Works and Repair Options”

  1. The good and bad. I live in a condo where we had this process done. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the branches that lead up to the sink toilet, tub were not part of this. Thus this past week I discovered the drain behind my kitchen sink was leaking into the wall and had been apparently for some time. I ended up cutting away the gypsum to discover the pipe had deteriorated with age to break all the way through. The video’s focus on the largest part of the drainage, but don’t address what can cause potentially the most unseen damage, until it has gone on for much too long.

    1. Lining is great for main runs but not the areas you mention such as waste arms in the wall. In a condo typically the common lines are lined (association responsibility) but not the unit owner’s piping. Therefore, it is important to replace these pipes when remodeling and know the warning signs to look for such as this article mentions.

  2. I didn’t realize how there are so many different types of stacks involved in drainage systems. It’s interesting how vent stacks provide airflow through the drainage system to reduce pressure while water is flowing through other stacks. It’s good to know about this in case something is causing excess pressure through branches in drainage systems.

  3. I live in a condo and my guest bathroom sink drain is tied into the kitchen drain of an adjacent apartment before it enters the main building drain line. A continuos problem occurs when the drain tie point becomes clogged with deposits from the garbage disposal unit. Is this a legal hookup? This building is in New Jersey, and was built in 1974.

    1. Norm,

      We only service South Florida, so you would be best served by reaching out to a Licensed Plumber in New Jersey for questions on local legalities. Thank you for reading our blog!

  4. Please Help
    I leave in a condo for 13+ years. About 6-7 years ago the Board picked my floor with 3-4 other ones to install
    Clean-outs. I objected to, but had no choice they said; one was installed in my hallway. The clean-out process was to be done every other year. The previous few years the clean out process (about half hour) became yearly. This year was done in about 7 months. This means I have to provide access to my suite in order to do the work. This creates a lot of problems lately accessing my suite. Management expects to use my suite as an “open house” type. The board appear to go along with management. I don’t like moving out, or spend large amount of money in legal fees. What are my options?

    1. Hi Dima,

      Unfortunately, we cannot offer legal advice. However, it does sound like there are ongoing plumbing issues that have built up to this point and our advice would be to ask the Board to consider a through video inspection of the system to try and assess the overall condition of the plumbing system and begin to take measures to develop a plan to permanently line or replace the pipes.

      Thank you for visiting our blog!

    2. Hi live in Las vages Nv, I work as a maintenance and part management on property. the building has three uints and it’s a single story built-in 1975.the problem is that the sewer keeps back up into all three uints every three to four months what is causing this to happen it backs up in the shower and the toilet.

  5. Hi,

    My landlord is experiencing flooding from the sewer line in the apartment below mines. He claims that the blockage is coming from my unit and causing the seepage in the unoccupied unit below and is asking that I pay for half. It should be noted that the below unit has been vacant for years, the water seepage has occurred in the past, and that my toilet has been stopped before but nothing that a plunger couldn’t fix. Now based on your drawing above, if there is a blockage caused by me, between the two floors, wouldn’t I be experiencing the same flooding? Isn’t it possible that the blockage is preexisting and is between the below unit and the main?

    1. Hi Tierra,

      An inspection would need to be made by a qualified plumber. There are far too many variables to offer any speculation.

      Thanks for visiting our blog!

  6. Great video! It has answered all my questions about how the process actually works and how holes are made for secondary lines.

    Our condo is from 1959 and we are starting to see major problems from our drain lines. We are hoping that this could be used to avoid tearing out units bathrooms.

  7. I read your post. This is the first time I am seeing your full post. Awesome writing. It’s really helpful. Thank you so much for giving the important information.

  8. Looking for answers that aren’t supernatural. I live on the 2nd floor of an 8 story building, maybe 100 units all together. There are laundry facilities on the 8th floor.

    My toilet is possessed by a very clean ghost. It flushes itself, with a roar, and fills with soapy water! Completely baffles the maintenance crew. No one’s heard of it before. Something with the vent stacks, maybe?

    Anyone come across this problem before?

    1. Sounds like a venting issue to me. Somehow the laundry stack is choked for air and pulling from the bath stack. Perhaps the toilet is tied into the laundry stack somehow and the laundry suds are too much and choking the venting. Make sure that if the laundry machines are “HE” machines that only “HE” detergent is being used.

  9. Building and understanding the drainage system of your home and yard is crucial. My home’s yard drainage is pooling by my driveway and cause the driveway to settle and cause bad cracks. I’m keeping this in mind when I address this in the spring.

  10. Hi, I just bought an apartment and it’s under renovation now. The management requires me to change entire branch vent and branch line which connects with bathtub, sink and toilet to soil pipe and partial soil pipe. Shall these be my responsibility to change it or building’s responsibility? Is it a big project since my contractor refuse to do it?

  11. I didn’t know that cast iron pipes had such a short lifespan. The apartment building I live in boasts about their cast iron piping systems, but I know the building is quite old. Would they be breaking regulations if their pipes, floor drains, or other parts of their plumbing are outside of their expected lifespan?

    1. Anthony Frank Forline

      Thats because the salt. Water under the ground in Florida. Fine in building and will last a lot longer

  12. Hi , thank you for this . I receceny purchased in an apartment in an old complex but was built in the 80’s. The pipes in the complex all make a noise , the apartment above when they in the shower or my neighbor on the same floor next to me. What can be done to stop these noises ? I’m told by the trustees that’s how the whole complex is , had I known I wouldn’t have bought here. The sound of water flowing through the pipes all the time is new to me . What can be done to correct the noise ?

  13. I live in a condo building. I began to experience poor draining of my water closet n one of my bathrooms. Is there a video of how the water sink, tub and toilet waste lines are tied together. Tub and sink are draining but the water closet is very slow and gurgling. I had plumber check it out . He dismantle the water closet made sure it’s not blocked, run snake and pulled some hair and paper towels, reasamble it, it worked for one day and now it’s backing up. I live in Miami

  14. Thank you for the information on a buildings drainage system and how it works. The trenchless technique where you inflate an epoxy saturated felt liner to repair the piping sounds very interesting. I wonder if that is commonly used or something that has only recently been tried and tested?

  15. I agree that snaking your drains every few months isn’t too helpful. It’s temporarily helped the drain problems in my bathroom. However, I’ve been thinking about how it’ll save me time to have the problems in my bathroom solved by a professional.

  16. I appreciate you helping me learn more about the drainage system. At first, I thought that it’s a complicated process, however, after reading this post, I fully understood how it works. I noticed that among the common types of pipes you’ve mentioned, cast iron piping has only 2 disadvantages to which I think have nothing to do with its performance or function.

  17. Hello I am from MA and our bathroom sink drains slow. We have looked everywhere imaginable to see were it drains to and have not been able to find it. Could this be conected to the kitchen sink drain or the toilet and run between the wall that is between our kitchen and bathroom?

      1. 2 days ago my sink in the kitchen both sides filled up with black water and sewer smell that was on real went over my countertops all over my kitchen floor they say it’s bring the hand soap making the are the pipes and that accept chemical reaction of I just knowing the gas now they’ve not still come to to clean nor has ever done anything about this month why is it now still here it’s so distinct it’s disgusted the pictures are horrible could you explain what this is the building is very old is on a livestock Exchange building in Omaha Nebraska are the cattle used to be can you come in after you tell me know about this gas know I was in the middle of fixing dinner on top of it for my grandson which really makes me wonder if we are given any yet can’t handle the smell what do I do

        1. I recommend you repost your comment after proofreading. Check your wording to ensure that the meaning is clear. Use a period (.) or question mark (?) as appropriate at the end of each sentence.
          All the best!

  18. Roberto Rosenfeld

    Two questions if I may,
    a) how many more years will this process add to already old cast iron pipes?
    b) following the above, if the cast iron pipes have already shot through their 35 years life expectancy, wouldn’t the pressure from inside lining finally crack the pipes for good?
    c) what are the major risks of this process, or, when would this process NOT be recommended?

    1. A. Adds a life expectancy of 50 years to the existing cast iron pipes.
      B. No, we use the pipe as a channel, you will have a new structural pipe created inside the old pipe once done.
      C. Pipe lining will not correct pitch issues so if you have back pitch you will need to replace.

  19. Glenda householder

    I live on the first floor of a 3 story appartment. My kitchen sink has backed up 3 times in six years and now my landlird said I have to pay for it if it happen again. I feel the problem is coming from the apartments above me. Aren’t they staked and use the same drain?

    1. They are, but the problem may lie in the main line or just in your waste arm. If it backs up again and a plumber comes to clear it ask him where the blockage is and that will determine responsibility.

  20. I live in a condo and my neighbor is renovating his bathroom. His bathroom backs up to my bathroom which makes sense. Anway, during the renovation, the pounding and crashing was violent that the pictures in my living room nearly fell off the wall. Now our bathroom smells like a sewer. Could all that pounding have damaged the vent pipe?

  21. It sure was nice to know that rain leaders can transport rainwater and can be combined sewer drain to the roof. My father is looking to have his house remodeled. He said that he wanted to install a stormwater system that will work effectively to prevent his yard from getting clogged and flooded because of the rain. Thanks!

  22. I am trying to a plumbing all by my self because it cost a lot to get a service. Using all this kind of tips are so helpful since I am trying to do the repair all by my self. Thanks for the Awesome tips.

  23. I have a condo on the first floor of a three story building. I believe the building was built in 1979. The association hydro jets the pipes once a year. The washing machine, kitchen sink, dishwasher, toilet/shower are located alone the same side of the unit. I first experienced drainage issues with the washer. Maintenance put a snake down the drain and said it was clear so must be the washer. I’ve since discovered it will only work on two of the cold water settings. Not long after, the dish washer had drain issues. Maintenance came to unclog drain. I asked if it has anything to do with the washing machine issue and he said it’s just a coincidence. We’ve used the dishwasher only a few times since, and noticed that water came out of the spout on the kitchen sink. We never had a dishwasher in our prior apartments and thought it was normal since we just had maintenance fix it. Then today I decided to replace my water filter under the sink. I first turned off the cold water. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to do this, but I used the hot water in the sink to wash the filter housing. I figured it would be okay thinking that the hot water had nothing to do with the cold water line anyway. However, I was surprised that the hot water started to drip through the cold water filter tube that was disconnected at the time. I had noticed recently that the water from the filtered water faucet seems a bit warm. How is this possible? Why is the hot water all of the sudden coming through the cold water line? And could all these issues be related? How do I know if water/drainage from all these fixtures are somehow crossing over and/or possibly combining water from the waste and soil stacks where they shouldn’t. Any advice or clarity you can provide is appreciated. Thank you!

    1. I’m currently living in an apartment, where all the toilet lines, joining, finishing that’s supposed to be on the outside of the building is inside my room. It gives off a strong gassy smelly scent. This causes my skin to itch and burn, and I also realise when I pass gas it has the same odor.

      Aren’t all sewer lines supposed to be on the outside of the building. Also how can this affect my health.
      I spoke to the land lady, she doesn’t want to do anything about it.

  24. It’s awesome that cast iron pipes are so durable and able to hold so much weight! We need a nice, solid option for our home’s plumbing system because I don’t want to have to do maintenance on the system too often. We’ll have to find a good plumber in our area that could help us make sure cast iron is the right option for our home. Maybe they could come over and inspect things first to give us an accurate recommendation.

  25. I live on the third floor of an apartment building, and I’m facing regular problems with my bathroom drainage. As the building management was rather uncooperative, I finally got a pipe repair done myself. Best decision I’ve ever made.

  26. It’s good to know that cast iron pipes are not flammable and won’t contribute to a fire! I want to avoid any chance of having a house fire because I’ve seen how devastating they can be. We are trying to get our home repiped, and I think cast iron will provide the durability we need for years to come while being fire resistant! I’ll talk to a pipe specialist and see what options they have for this.

  27. My daughter lives a condo in so fl. Her new ac keeps backing up from the condensation line. We were told by the ac people this is a stacked line. How do we get this fixed? As this is now a monthly issue and no one seems to be able to resolve.

    1. Does she pour bleach down her a/c condensate line monthly or at least every 6 months? This is necessary to kill the plant growth that will grow in the line in Southern FL. Every homeowner should do this. The a/c repairman taught me this tip after our line un Naples FL clogged with algae and it turned off the a/c to prevent a flood.

  28. It’s really interesting that sewer line cleaning is good for short-term maintenance, but that you also need to pay attention to the state of the sewer line itself. I would imagine that if you hire a quality septic service, they would not only clean the line but also check the integrity of the pipes. This would help them ensure that everything is working properly.

  29. I appreciate you breaking down what kind of pipes I can expect would be in my workplace. The horizontal one you mention sounds extremely important, as it works as the building drain like you said. Some of our drains have been backing up, so we might end up hiring a plumber to check those out.

  30. Good morning, I removed my bathroom sink cabinet/sink to replace them. I shut off the water and left for a few weeks but didn’t cap the drain line. I got back and found that water leaked from the drain line. Fortunately I left a bucket under it and no damage was done. I live on the third floor which is the top floor in Clearwater condo. Thanks in advance.

  31. Reoccurring common sewer line backups. Excess sewage from common sewer line backups into downstairs bathroom. Sewer Seeping through base of downstairs toilet. Homeowner association fees includes water,sewer, trash insurance landscaping and pest control. Homeowner association board and President deliberately and intentionally neglect to manage common Sewer line. Condo owner Homeowners insurance does not cover for sewer line backups. Condominium Association board member refuse to do the right thing. Owner is disabled and does not have finances to keep repairing Condo home from excess sewege. Thank you for your Help

  32. I didn’t know that there are different types of drain materials and that they all have advantages and disadvantages. My husband and I are wanting to build our own house but since we know nothing about plumbing, we wanted to make sure we chose a good material of pipes. Thank you so much for the information, I’ll make sure to look over it with my husband so we choose together!

  33. I own a townhome/condo in Tampa. My question is: What is the actual definition of drains. Our Declarations outline that owners own everything from the walls in (brief discription) and the declarations outline that owners are responsible for drains, plumbing fixtures and connections that are appurtenant solely to their respective units. Florida statute also discribes what a condo owner owns (walls inward…floors inward….ceilings inward).

    I have always been under the impression that drains within a home are what can be seen from sinks, tubs, the piping directly connected to the plumbing fixtures, water lines and sewr lines not being considered a drain. Water and sewer lines are totally seperate from definition of a drain inside a home/condo/townhome.

    can you, if all possible, clarify the definition of a drain inside and/or belonging to a townhome/condo.

    1. Sonya, while I am sure you are looking for a simple answer it is a little more varied and complex with each condo association having different docs and interpretations. My advice would be to consult with an attorney that specializes in condo docs and have them interpret your unique situation.

  34. I live on the 17th floor of a 25 floor condominium. It is a fairly new building built in 2005. There is an awful smell coming from under the kitchen sink. A licensed plumber cleaned the p-trap and pipe vents under the sink but the smell still persisted. The plumber came back and felt the smell was coming from a clogged line in one of the units below me. Is it possible to have a septic service snake the drain down that length of pipe to try and clear a potential clog? I am running out of options and not sure what else to do.

  35. The association has their preferred plumber who said the problem is outside (street) of my home on the first floor, but the association has said it was to expensive and will not pay for the repair. Everything flows with little or no pressure and the kitchen is extremely slow and I don’t use the dishwasher. My patience now is extremely low HELP!

  36. Use the hydro cleaner and giant drain snake in industrial sector. Frequently happen the drainage problem in industry and the stop the production. keep the hydro cleaner and giant drain snake with professional plumber.

  37. i am on the 5th flr of a 6th flr condominium. My neighbor and i i guess share the same pipe line. Recently her bathtub backed up with brown rust water and my bathtub has been slow in the water going down. Is this a sewer problem or simply pipes needing to be snaked?

  38. Barbara Anderson

    I live in a very old building, with new electric and plumbing in 2009. The sewer stack was replaced from the basement up, however the sewer line from the stack to outside the house was not replaced. I’ve suddenly been experiencing a problem with the sewer being plugged … and when I turn the city water main on, the sewer line fills with fresh water and backs up. Everything in the house is shut off … sinks, toilets, washer, dishwasher. The water heater is not shut off because the plumber didn’t install any shutoffs … and water runs into it constantly while fresh water is running through the sewer stack from above. I’ve never heard of a fresh water line and sewer stack being connected. What on earth is happening here?

  39. I live on the 3rd floor (top floor) of a stacked type condo system that was built I think in 1973. I have 2 bed 2 bath condo. The drain in one shower has become increasingly slow (I’ve lived here 5 years). When I get a shower it looks like water actually bubbles back up and then slowly drains down at times (you can tell when bubbles from the soap are trying to go down) The toilet is right next to the shower and seems fine. It has never stopped up/doesn’t over flow or anything like that. I don’t think there would be any way to snake the actual shower because the drain is cemented on the floor. I have tried one of those small snakes that can go down through the holes in the drain but they aren’t long enough and even if anything pulled up the drain stop couldn’t be taken off. I guess my question is, could the toilet be snaked to see if they can figure out why the drain in the shower is going so slow? Are the two drains connected? I have put draino down the drain in the shower a few times and sometimes it helps for a little while, then it just ends up becoming slow again. There is no long hair or anything like that which could have gone through that way. There was a time I was flushing disposable wipes in the toilet but I haven’t done that in a long time. Is it possible those wipes could have backed up into the shower drain? Again, the toilet has never been stopped up/over flowed. The shower in the second bathroom is fine, no draining issues with it.

  40. Hi guys. I leave in the first flour in 6 apartments- three apartments on both sites>every week I have my kitchen sink clotted.I have a plumber cleaning my kitchen pipes .But nothing helps.I steel have the problem .the plumber said my pipes are ok the problem is the main pipe.Where is the kitchen pipes are connected.what could be the problem Every plumber has a different opinion.thank you

  41. My wife and I have owned a condo in St Pete for the last 6 years. Sometimes we live in it and sometimes we rent it out. Our current tenant moved in a couple weeks ago.
    Anyway, she called a couple days ago to report a leak at the toilet seal in the main bathroom. She had called a plumber, but the plumber would not come out until hearing from the owner. We called the plumbing company about 9AM and scheduled a visit for repair. Just before 1PM I called our tenant to ask if work was underway and what was the progress. She reported that the plumber had gone on the roof to clear the stacks as they might have some blockage. I immediately became concerned as I had not asked for work beyond replacing the seal, nor could I authorize the service tech to go on the roof to correct a problem I had nothing to do with. I asked her to instruct the service tech to account for any hrs that were beyond the work I had requested as I anticipated some shared responsibility with the condo association. At the same time I contacted one of the condo board members and the board president to appraise them of the situation. (The board member lived in the unit above ours and was presently within. He also spoke with the service tech.)
    The next day I got a bill for $763.45 including 4 1/2 hrs for labor at $130/hr. The service tech had “snaked 3 stacks 75′ before finding an obstruction in a 4th stack.” There was no accounting of what time was spent on what task. I called the plumbing office to reiterate that I needed to see that level of detail on the invoice I reported to the association president who said just to get him that information when I could.
    The following morning I received an email notice with an attachment including an addendum to the invoice saying he had spent one hr snaking the 3 unobstructed stacks (somehow it took 3 1/6 hrs to replace the seal after dealing with the obstruction from the roof).
    You might guess that when I reported this one hr to the association president he said the association would take no responsibility, adding that stack maintenance was “up to date.” (When I pressed on this latter he said stack maintenance had been done 12 or 18 months ago.)
    The plumbing company is unyielding on their charges. What recourse do we have with an equally reluctant condo association?

    1. Sounds frustrating. I would call another plumber and see what a reasonable fee would be for the work you authorized to have done. That may give you some leverage in a dispute. As for entering stacks to snake common pipes they should know better, that approval is not yours to give and they are out of luck collecting on that work from you I would guess.

  42. A clean out was installed in my 9th floor condo unit to facilitate kitchen stack cleaning. Clean outs were installed on the 2nd, 9th and 17th floors of the building. Ever since the cleaning was done, I find water in my kitchen sink draining slower than before. In fact, when a pot of water is poured down the sink, water would rise in my double sink before draining off slowly. I have tried using a plunger with no improvement. My question is this: being the unit with the clean out, could the clog be caused by some of the gunk from the stack that may have been left, and flowed into the horizontal pipe leading to my kitchen sink when the cleaning was done?

    1. The clean-out is probably irrelevant to the situation. When a vertical stack is cleaned quite often some debris is pushed in the throat of the branch connection. This is especially true for kitchen stacks as they have grease and food debris. It is always best practice to clean the branches and waste arms whenever the vertical stack is cleaned. Of course in a condo this is the unit owners responsibility and not the association.

  43. I bought my older condo 9 yrs ago. There was not an ice maker in existing refrigerator. The copper water supply line for an ice maker, was disconnected and rolled up behind the refrigerator. Never had an issue in 9yrs until a plumber put in a garbage disposal, new pipes, and 2 new shut off valves in cold line under sink. I also have a unit above me that is doing kitchen renovations. The first few days it started leaking abit. The new shut off valve for that line does not stop the flow of water. Now, SOAPY water is spewing from the line! Clear, soapy water, and the only way I can stop it is my turning off my main water supply to condo. My plumber did say when he removed the drainage line to put in new pipes, it was severely clogged in the portion running behind the wall. He felt there may be a clog further down the line. I know it’s a lot of info, but could this be related to soapy water coming from the disconnected icemaker supply line? I haven’t had soapy water in my kitchen sink, and I don’t have a dishwasher.

  44. My problem is my bathroom in my condo which is on the 4th floor.It leaks down to the unit below mine.even when no one is taking a shower and it happens periodically ,for example it will leak in April and then leak again in September and then inDecember..This has been going on for 2years.I had 3 different plumbers check , who changed every possible parts in my shower and I am still having this problem. Can u please let me know if anyone has ever encounter a problem like this.I am frustrated and need to know i.

    1. Pipelining Technologies

      This must be extremely frustrating for you and your neighboring residents. Have you had a vapor test performed (AKA: smoke test)? We use non-toxic, pet-safe vapor to detect leaks, even behind walls or between floors. The vapor test can identify minuscule areas that may otherwise go unnoticed. Let us know what you find out. We wish you the best.

  45. Will your process work for Roof Drains? One of our PVC roof drains may be cracked. Only when it rains REALLY HARD AND FAST does it backup. Then it leaks into the first floor unit (of 5 stories)

    1. Pipelining Technologies

      Hi Kristen, pipe lining is ideal for roof drains/vertical stacks, though a video inspection is needed to confirm your specific case. We have installed vertical CIPP for condo buildings of more than 40 stories, saving owners time, destruction/reconstruction, and 30%-40% over the costs of conventional repair/replacement. If you’re in Southeast Florida, please give us a call and we’ll be glad to let you speak directly to our high-rise specialist. Otherwise, we’d be happy to help find a great provider in your area. Thanks for reaching out.

      1. We are in Central Florida, Polk County, Winter Haven. Do you have any providers in this area? Thanks for you help!!

        1. Pipelining Technologies

          Hi Kirsten, we recommend you call Tracy at Get Smart Pipe Technologies (941)400-9766. They should be able to help you; please mention that we sent you. We wish you the best with your pipe project and would love to hear a report once you’ve completed pipe lining. Thanks!

  46. Patricia Asakawa-Ellis

    We have a condo in San Diego, CA. There are 3 buildings, each 6 stories about 100 units. For the longest time now, there have been multiple plumbing issues. On a good month, the water will be turned off for something on a bad month, it could be once or twice a week. I am not on the board of directors, but what options do they have to get a good picture of what is going on and make a plan for long term fixes rather than, what appears to a home owner to be nickel and dime patches. At minimum, couldn’t something be put in place to try to impact as few units as possible when a repair is required. Turning off water for 100 units at a time multiple times a month is troublesome.

  47. Hi, we are in a 14 storey building – cast iron pipes. We have problems with blockages in the soil stacks. We get the bottom rodded 3 x a year. Is is possible to use some sort of drain cleaner directly into the stack from the top down regularly to stop build ups at higher levels? We get showers and sinks backing up as high as the 7th floor when something is stuck in the stack just below them. Thank you.

  48. I live in a three story apartment building with a waste pipe running through the three apartments on my side of the six unit building. This week, there was a leak on my ceiling, all around this waste pipe. My upstairs neighbour says it is in my apartment, wear and tear and humidity. He refuses to do anything more and even refuses to have someone come in and check. He is the building committee and refuses knowing that this waste pipe would is the responsibility of the building committee.

    I need to know if it could be from my apartment, a plug in the waste pipe, or actually his pipes connecting to the waste pipe. I don’t know what to do.

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