Plumbing Hell
Posted by Michelle on May 01, 2004 at 07:43:17:
For reasons I'd rather not get into, my partner and I are currently living with a family friend. While I'm certainly grateful for not being homeless, I'm desperately concerned for our health at the hands of our benefactor.

We are living in a nice rental home, built c. 1967 (that's a rough guess). Several months ago we experienced a severe drop in water pressure, primarily in the kitchen sink. The drop is not particularly evident in the washing maching, located next to the kitchen sink, or in either of the two bathrooms.

However, about the same time as the pressure drop, both bathroom sink drains stopped functioning. No amount of plunging has cleared the sinks. There is a constant amount of black water a few centimeters below drain level. If either sink is filled, the water level in both sinks rises somewhat equally.

About three months ago one of the two toilets stopped filling (the tank, that is), and flushes became weak. We have been "flushing" by filling a bucket from the bathtub faucet (which, miraculously, is still running fine...although the tub does drain slowly).

Over the past several weeks a serious sewer gas smell has developed in the affected bathroom. Several of us in the house have been experiencing sinus and bronchial symptoms for some time, and I strongly suspect the plumbing situation is a huge contributor, if not the cause.

The man we live with, while kind, is clearly not particuarly, um, responsible. This is a rental house; he is not financially responsible for the plumbing; yet he refuses to call the landlords for help. He has, on several occasions, set his own money aside (he has a very well-paying job) to hire someone on his own, yet each time, "something" has come up that he felt was more urgent.

I am becoming very concerned for the health and safety of those of us who live here. It's not fun to find oneself in a position of depending on others; when one's health is evidently at risk, it becomes terrifying.

I'm handy with basic home renovation but I don't trust myself with the things I consider always best left to professionals; namely, plumbing and electric. I guess what I'm looking for is a few hints as to what may be going on with our plumbing in general, some ideas about how to fix it (I know a professional absolutely must be brought in, but perhaps if I could explain exactly WHY, my "friend" would listen) and a clear understanding of the risks and dangers we're currently facing.

I am sorry for rambling. This is a very disturbing situation for me as I know enough to be concerned but not enough to make my point, and I'm unfortunately of doing much to change things on my own. Thanks in advance for any help.

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