Something died in our stack vent pipe?

Discussion in 'Drain Cleaning' started by Frank O, Feb 3, 2017.

  1. Frank O

    Frank O New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2017
    Location:
    California
    Recently we came back from a three-week trip out of town, and found that the upstairs bathroom in our two-story house had a definite smell -- like there was a dead rat somewhere. We tried cleaners in the drains, which didn't help much. We also did a careful check inside and under all the cabinetry, checked the attic, etc, and can't find the source.

    At this point we're wondering if something died somewhere in the stack vent pipe, causing the smell to come out at the sink drain in that room. Any suggestions on how this would best be cleaned out? If we, say, stuck a hose down into the vent pipe at the roof and ran water down, does that seem like it would help, or could that cause problems?
     
  2. Master Plumber Mark

    Master Plumber Mark Sensitivity trainer and plumber of mens souls

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Occupation:
    Sensitivity trainer.. and plumber of mens souls
    Location:
    indianapolis indiana - land of the free, home of
    Install a new trap on the sink drain if the smell is coming up from that point
    if you have a 1 1/4 trap,,, increase the trap to 1 1/2 and see if that solves the issue

    it cant hurt to try this first before you go nuts and do something more radical.......
     
  3. Sponsor

    Sponsor Paid Advertisement

     
  4. Smooky

    Smooky In the Trades

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Normally there are bad odors inside of the vent pipes but you should not be smelling the odor in the living space. I think you have a different issue. A picture of the piping under the sink might help.
     
  5. JRC3

    JRC3 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Location:
    S.W. Ohio
    I've seen showers with soffits above have animals fall in the walls around them with no way to get out. Do you have a soffited shower or soffits over your vanity? Basically a soffit gives access to the wall cavities below it.
     
  6. Frank O

    Frank O New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2017
    Location:
    California
    Here's a shot under the sink:

    http://imgur.com/a/PQFvt

    Hardware was installed a few months ago by a pro plumber.

    I'm not sure of the purpose of the black hose on the right. It doesn't make sense that it would lead to the vent system -- tying in between the drain and trap would serve no purpose in breaking a vacuum. There's an HVAC unit in the attic just about directly above it -- I wonder if that could be a drain from there?

    To answer JRC3's question, no, there are no soffits over either the shower or the vanity in this bathroom. Directly above both is the ceiling, and above that is the attic. The attic smells very fresh. But that isn't to say that a small animal couldn't have gotten trapped in one of the walls (which was our second guess after wondering about the vent system).
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2017
  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I would tape a thin plastic sheet like a curtain, around the outside of the sink, that extends to the floor. See which side of the curtain has a stronger smell.

    Add another sheet across the top of the lavatory to isolate smells coming up the drain including from the suspected AC condensate drain line.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
  8. Master Plumber Mark

    Master Plumber Mark Sensitivity trainer and plumber of mens souls

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Occupation:
    Sensitivity trainer.. and plumber of mens souls
    Location:
    indianapolis indiana - land of the free, home of
    http://imgur.com/a/PQFvt

    What in gods name is that rigged up mess all about????

    what is the pipe that the hose is attaching to??? it appears to be
    a vent or drain or something???

    I am only guessing here but is that hose is going to a vent ???
    and that hose is connected above the trap into the drain line so the stink
    can just come belching up into the sink whenever it wants to??.....

    do you understand what a trap does and why there is one ??

    What purpose is that hose supposed to be doing ???

    Is that some drain from up
    above that comes down out of the wall ????

    With what info I got, I would guess that is your problem...
    and that dead line at the wall needs to be re-routed and tied in
    after , not before the sink trap....





     
  9. Frank O

    Frank O New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2017
    Location:
    California
    Mark, I had exactly the same reaction. If that black tube attaches to the vent system, it would be completely screwed up to connect it above the trap. I'm vaguely remembering maybe it's there to serve as a drain from an HVAC unit in the attic, but I have no idea if that's the way to do that. I'll see if we can verify what that hose connects to.

    Along the lines of Reach4's idea, I think we need to do more work to isolate the source of the smell. Plastic sheeting and/or other barriers might be a way to do that.
     
  10. Sylvan

    Sylvan Still learning

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
    Occupation:
    plumbing - fire suppression - boiler inspector
    Location:
    New York
    That black piece of garbage is most likely a connection to a condensate line from an AC or dehumidifier unit .

    If it is connected to an AC /dehumidifier you will need to flush out the line as this type of waste can cause bacteria to flurish
     
  11. JRC3

    JRC3 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Location:
    S.W. Ohio
    Looks like that plumber made a trip to AutoZone for his parts.:p

    And then add a trap to it??? Get a longer piece of hose and loop a trap with it. Another trip to AutoZone.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
  12. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2008
    Occupation:
    Test, Don't Guess!
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    Assuming it is a condensate drain, it is entering the vanity drain above the trap, so there is really no problem there.
     
  13. JRC3

    JRC3 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Location:
    S.W. Ohio
    But if it had a trap the smell above it would be less likely to enter the vanity drain. More so their may also be a draft that pushes or pulls air through the condensate line. Traps are put on A coil condensate drains to prevent the fan from drafting air through the the drain line.

    IF that's even the smell origin. He could close and or tape over the drain and any bowl overflow to test.
     
  14. Frank O

    Frank O New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2017
    Location:
    California
    I did close the drain and tape over the bowl overflow -- surprise, the smell went away. So I think it has to be this condensate drain line from the HVAC unit in the attic above. Someone on another forum told me it's against code to tie an HVAC drain line into a plumbing line/stack precisely because of the issue of smells. True?
     
  15. JRC3

    JRC3 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Location:
    S.W. Ohio
    If it were me, I'd run the condensate line directly outside...If the code allows this in the country of California. :p You're lucky in that gravity is on your side and no condensate pump is necessary

    It's cool you've at least isolated the problem.
     
  16. MASTERPLUMB777

    MASTERPLUMB777 In the Trades

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2007
    Occupation:
    Retired Master Plumber
    Location:
    Texas
    Frank that hose set up is 100 percent to CA. building code, as someone has suggested I try running water down that condensate drain in the attic to flush it out
     
Similar Threads: Something died
Forum Title Date
Drain Cleaning Hello - I'm just a homeowner who's done something dumb, and needs help! Feb 3, 2020

Share This Page