Kitchen sink backup in a condo

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by songstj, Nov 26, 2010.

  1. songstj

    songstj New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    A 3rd floor condo with 6 units above and 2 below. There have been 5 kitchen sink backups in the past 44 months. 3 out and over the top with gray water. No one is home and the dishwasher is not on. The Lead Plumbing Inspector after looking at a video of the inside said the 3" vertical drain pipe bends slightly on it's way to the 2nd floor and and the cast iron is pitted. Building built in 1989 and converted to condos in 2005.

    Any ideas.
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Ah, the joys of condo conversion! You bought a 'brand new' house, but the plumbing is 20 years old!
    A slight bend shouldn't account for such problems. Something is clogging that line. What have they done each time there is backup?

    The HOA is responsible for this, although short of legal action, YOUR insurance may be on tap for the damages in your apartment. A stop-gap solution would be to install a back-water valve on the sink drain. This may not be totally effective, as is could cause the backup to go higher, affecting possibly other drains in your apt, or units above.

    You need to keep pressure on the HOA to solve this problem. Get a letter from the famous law firm of Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe. Let the condo know you are holding them resposible.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,874
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    A 3" vertical drain line should NOT become obstructed, and definitely not in the time frame you describe. MANY high rise vertical drain lines are offset to minimize the velocity of the descending water, BUT it is also possible that when the material hits the offset, if it is too abrupt, that the liquids and solids separate and the solids stay in the offset to eventually plug it up.
  4. songstj

    songstj New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Everytime there has been a backup the vertical line [going in from my kitchen sink line] has been cleaned and the last time they cleaned the vertical line from another spot also.

    The property is a rental and the HOA claims tenant misconduct. The first tenant came from another unit in the building. The backup happened to her March 2007 and it was a mess and a disruption to her life. I think she hardly used that kitchen sink in the beginning as she traveled a lot for her business as an attorney and after that first event even less. it visited her two more times over 3 yrs but never made it out of the sink as she came home and found it rising in the sink.

    The next tenant was preparing to move in and it there was a backup and out of the sink this May 9th and at that time the place had been vacant for 39 days. So she saw the mess and disruption as her move in was pushed out 15 days. So in September I had the line cleaned as a preventive whatever from my kitchen sink and down the vertical line about 60' by the same company the HOA uses. Then 53 days later there was a backup and it came out my sink and up over the top. This tenant is a CPA and works a lot and seldom uses the garbage disposal.

    I have owned property with plenty of tenant misconduct but these tenants are not guilty of any misconduct!

    I have been after the HOA ever since the first event telling them there is an issue with the vertical drain below my 3rd floor unit and above the 2nd floor unit.

    They have had their attorney tell me in no way can I install back flow preventers.

    They are saying if it comes again to not have the line cleaned as they will stick a camera in and locate the blockage.

    So i ask myself "if i was a tenant looking to rent this unit given the backups why would i rent it" And it is salesable only because price will sell anything.
  5. songstj

    songstj New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Thank you for that answer and it makes sense. The City Plumbing Inspector is telling me that the inside of the cast iron vertical lines are pitted. He suggested that pvc.

    Thank you again.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,874
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    A verical line does NOT get plugged because of the "pitting". BUT, they can also NOT clear a 3" line by snaking through your, or anyone else's, sink drain opening. Any snake that would fit through your opening, is MUCH too small to clear a 3" line. At best it would punch a "tiny" hole in whatever is plugging the line. There is also NOTHING a tenant could put into their drain which would be large enough to stop a 3" line.
  7. songstj

    songstj New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Where were you when I was asking all those plumbers on how to solve this? Big companies and little companies. Old pumbers and young plumbers. I believe you have given me the answer! Now how to convince the HOA and then how to sue them for their negligence with their lines that have caused me loss of money in deductibles and lost tenants and lost rental income and a lost buyer when i tried to sell it. Your answers are the most logical and make the most sense!

    Thank you.
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