Downstairs Toilet Bubble Explosion, Floor Drain Overflows -No Apparent Clog in Plumbing or Vent Pipe

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by RapaNui, Jan 29, 2020.

  1. RapaNui

    RapaNui New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2020
    Location:
    Dexter, MI
    Hi all,

    This past Summer we purchased our first house, a split-level from the 1960's. With this purchase we had the sewer line inspected by camera and cleaned a couple months after we moved in. Since we've had the house, the basement toilet splashes when upstairs toilet is flushed. These toilets are more or less stacked on top of one another, with the vent pipe directly above the upstairs bathroom on the roof (one vent pipe in the house).

    Recently we've been experiencing overflows from a nearby drain in the basement when we run a load of laundry through the washer. The overflow is the worst on the first washer empty. This drain is between the utility sink the washer empties into and the main sewer line out of the house. The largest overflow of the drain was from a single upstairs toilet flush after returning from 3 days of being away from the house; however, flushing the upstairs toilet doesn't usually cause an overflow. The basement toilet also bubbles sometimes when the upstairs shower is running, along with the sound of running water in the utility sink drain (likely vacated p-trap), and a slight overflow of the basement drain. This is infrequent, but does happen.

    Attempted solutions. I ran a 15ft auger through basement plumbing lines, but couldn't get into the drain, so I called a professional. The plumber was able to snake between the drain that overflows and the main sewer line out of the house. So, everything should be clean in the pipes between the overflowing drain and where it exits the house. Since this didn't fix the problem, I did what he next recommended, installed a studor vent behind the utility sink. Still didn't help. Two days ago, I purchased a 50ft auger and ran it into the main vent on the roof, but it didn't hit anything. I flushed the vent with the hose, but the basement toilet is still splashing.

    What's next? Are these multiple different problems? Is it just bad plumbing in the house? Or is there a clog somewhere?

    Thanks so much!

     
  2. Sylvan

    Sylvan Still learning

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
    Occupation:
    plumbing - fire suppression - boiler inspector
    Location:
    New York
    Sounds like bad venting and back pitched lines and a slight blockage
     
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  4. RapaNui

    RapaNui New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2020
    Location:
    Dexter, MI
    Thanks for your reply! Would you recommend a second studor vent? Perhaps on the upstairs bathroom sink? Or would that not help...
     
  5. RapaNui

    RapaNui New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2020
    Location:
    Dexter, MI
    Thanks Sylvan!

    If you think it's a slight blockage, do you have any guesses where it would be? Downstream the basement toilet, but in upstream the floor drain? It's strange for me to think why the toilet/upstairs shower would have the ability to overflow the basement floor vent if that's where the blockage is.
     
  6. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    It's hard to say how yours might be plumbed. I've seen some flat venting below grade done in the past and if there is a backup, then there would be no venting there. It's rare, but I have seen at least one other home where the upstairs toilet would burp the downstairs bowl too. n any venting situation, you want the vent from the downstairs to tie in at 42" on the next floor.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. RapaNui

    RapaNui New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2020
    Location:
    Dexter, MI
    Thanks Terry! I really appreciate the diagram.

    It would be nice to have a set of x-ray goggles or blueprints. I think what I'm going to try now is snake the toilet and see if that clears anything up. If it doesn't, I may call it quits and just live with it.
     
  8. RapaNui

    RapaNui New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2020
    Location:
    Dexter, MI
    Hi all,

    So I removed the toilet and snaked down the line with a 50ft 1/2" auger. No luck. A couple of weeks later our basement floor drain overflowed again when the shower was running upstairs.

    I did add a second Studor to the back of the basement vanity <3ft from the bubbling toilet. No help there either.

    I've called in a licensed plumber and he seems to have no idea. Of course, when he comes the plumbing is working 100% fine. We were planning on using a drain camera, but he offered to wait and see if I could do some tests to see where to go in at. He doesn't think the garbage disposal is the issue, but the next thing I've decided to try is to stop using it all together starting Feb. 28th.

    I've been taking a journal of the daily happenings downstairs. The infuriating thing is the problem comes and goes.

    February 27 -
    While taking shower upstairs for 5-10 minutes, the basement toilet started bubbling, then the utility sink started bubbling. Then I left, upon return 5-10 minutes later, the floor drain had overflowed. Radius ~3 ft. After cleaning, I noticed the toilet had lost all water. The dishwasher was also running during shower. A second shower was taken downstairs after event. No problem.

    February 28- No problems
    February 29- No problems
    March 1- No problems
    March 2- No problems

    March 3- While shower is running upstairs, I hear bubbling, went downstairs, single bubbles about one every second, but stopped after a minute. Nothing changed in utility sink. Water level still normal in toilet. Drain that usually overflows looked fine as well. Did a test flush upstairs right after shower, I checked downstairs during flush. There was some water movement, but no splash.

    March 4-No problems

    March 5- Single bubble/splash comes whenever the upstairs toilet is flushed. No bubbling when upstairs shower runs.
     
  9. plumber69

    plumber69 In the Trades

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2014
    Location:
    Prince Rupert, British Columbia
    Almost sure you have a dip in the line
     
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Occupation:
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    Location:
    New England
    With the right equipment and training, many cameras can determine what the slope of the drain line is. It sounds like your drain line doesn't have the proper slope. Lots of things, but if the pipe has a hole or bad joint, and the groundwater is high, it could be filling up with groundwater.

    An AAV is a one-way air valve. It will only let air in, not out. So, if there's a clog, air can't get out properly as waste builds up, and your toilet could bubble as it pushes some air ahead of it. So, an AAV won't solve that.
     
  11. Plumbs

    Plumbs In the Trades

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2019
    Location:
    Virginia
    Have your plumber do the video inspection from the roof vent all the way to the main tap. Even better if you can do it right after it overflows downstairs. Don't run any water until the plumber shows up.
    If there is a dip in the line or blocked vent that would show up with the video inspection.
     
  12. fullysprinklered

    fullysprinklered In the Trades

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2014
    Occupation:
    self-employed plumber-electrician doing residentia
    Location:
    Georgia
    Test flush with a healthy wad of tissue. Sounds a little like roots.
     
  13. plumber69

    plumber69 In the Trades

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2014
    Location:
    Prince Rupert, British Columbia
    Simple picture of dip in line, flush top toilet, its easier to push air down thru toilet then the dip
     

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  14. RapaNui

    RapaNui New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2020
    Location:
    Dexter, MI
    I just want to thank everyone for their help. Had the cleanout access point inspected by camera this morning and it turns out there were roots in main drain line. The crazy thing was they were located in the middle of the house.

    I'm optimistic removing them will solve the issue.

    Cheers!
     
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