Toxic Fumes??

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by grammers, Nov 21, 2004.

  1. grammers

    grammers New Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    customer service

    A week ago the sinks in bathroom and kitchen backed up. The toilet and shower were unaffected. My landlady had a plumber come in while I was at work.

    When I got home,there was an irritating gas cloud throughout my apartment. The plumber had left all windows open and fans on, but still the fumes were heavy and stayed that way for several days.

    There was no warning left for me that I should avoid breathing the fumes by going to a motel or anything, so I assumed it wasn't dangerous, even though my respiratory system was highly irritated after several hours of exposure.

    Was I knowingly exposed to something that could have been unhealthy to breathe? And who was responsible for warning me, the plumber or owner of the apartment?

    Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated. I'm a senior and know nothing about this sort of thing.

    Thanks greatly,
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Normally there are no fumes when unplugging a drain. It may have been a handyman rather than a plumber and he must have used a chemical, or chemicals, to unplug the drain. Whether you should have been advised, and who should do the advising is a legal question that we cannot answer.
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  4. Bob's HandyGuy

    Bob's HandyGuy Senior Member

    Sep 10, 2004
    In defense of handymen, I'd like to say that they do have their worth. We fill the gap between general contractor and specialized tradesman. Of course, there are boneheaded handymen just as there are boneheaded plumbers (ducking and covering!). Only a putz, plumber or handyman, would use drain cleaner to remove a clog. My experience with landlords suggests that she hired someone who is neither handyman or plumber, probably her nephew Ernest to fix the drain. Repairs take away a landlord's profits. They find the cheapest way to fix a problem, if you can get them to do it at all. He most likely used a lye crystal drain cleaner. The fumes are strong, but I doubt if they caused you any permanent harm.
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    If the odor is described as a "rotten egg" smell, he probably used a sulfuric-acid drain opener. Although these are sold and are supposedly safe if used as directed, they are unnecessarily strong, and do leave a lingering odor. As to toxic effects, you would have to refer to medical personnel..''

    Ask your landlord what was used. If he used some other chemical or mix of chemicals which were not intended for drain use, the results are unpredictable and possibly harmful.
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