Flushing The Vent Stack

 
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Old 11-08-2009, 04:54 AM   #1
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Flushing The Vent Stack


I put a roof on a customers house a month or so ago. She was having problems flushing her downstairs toilet...had to pour water in it to get it to flush. A plumber I ain't and didn't want to spend her money on troubleshooting it....Told her to call a plumber.

She called yesterday and says she will have a new toilet installed in 2 weeks, but they requested that someone climb on the roof and "flush" the vent stack.

How would I go about this? My plan as of now is to run a piece of board down it to insure there are no immediate obstructions. Am kinda leery of pouring water down it as the house is over a 100 years old adn who knows what or how the venting is run
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Old 11-08-2009, 06:11 AM   #2
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Re: Flushing The Vent Stack


Tell her your insurance doesn't cover you doing the plumbers job.

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Old 11-08-2009, 07:11 AM   #3
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Re: Flushing The Vent Stack


Quote:
Originally Posted by PA woodbutcher View Post
I put a roof on a customers house a month or so ago. She was having problems flushing her downstairs toilet...had to pour water in it to get it to flush. A plumber I ain't and didn't want to spend her money on troubleshooting it....Told her to call a plumber.

She called yesterday and says she will have a new toilet installed in 2 weeks, but they requested that someone climb on the roof and "flush" the vent stack.

How would I go about this? My plan as of now is to run a piece of board down it to insure there are no immediate obstructions. Am kinda leery of pouring water down it as the house is over a 100 years old adn who knows what or how the venting is run
Have the people installing the toilet (prefferably a licensed plumber) take care of it, if you or anyone else starts messing with it, you will end up getting blamed for it not working.
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Old 11-08-2009, 07:20 AM   #4
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Re: Flushing The Vent Stack


It will be a plumber doing the install. I would imagine they have the proper licensing, one of the bigger outfits in the area doing plumbing and electrical. They were the ones that requested the flushing...apparently to eliminate a venting issue as to why it won't flush. The house is a 2 story with a 12/12 and brand new roof. Not sure what the plumbers concerned with climbing on the roof unless he doesn't like the height or pitch
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Old 11-08-2009, 08:38 AM   #5
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Re: Flushing The Vent Stack


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How would I go about this?
I'm generally not too impressed with this guy, but Ask The Builder has a pretty good answer for this:

Cleaning plumbing vents is simple if they were installed correctly. It is a two or three person job the first time you do it and it really helps if you have two or three of those inexpensive family hand-held radios. These devices allow the people inside the house to communicate with the person who is operating the hose up on the roof. You need to make sure people are inside in case a vent pipe is cracked or leaks and the water starts to drip or flow inside.

Simply insert the hose in the vent pipes and turn it on full blast. The water should flow freely into the vent stack. If it starts to back up, that is a sign of problems.
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Old 11-08-2009, 09:44 AM   #6
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Re: Flushing The Vent Stack


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Originally Posted by Tinstaafl View Post
I'm generally not too impressed with this guy, but Ask The Builder has a pretty good answer for this:

Cleaning plumbing vents is simple if they were installed correctly. It is a two or three person job the first time you do it and it really helps if you have two or three of those inexpensive family hand-held radios. These devices allow the people inside the house to communicate with the person who is operating the hose up on the roof. You need to make sure people are inside in case a vent pipe is cracked or leaks and the water starts to drip or flow inside.

Simply insert the hose in the vent pipes and turn it on full blast. The water should flow freely into the vent stack. If it starts to back up, that is a sign of problems.
Thanks!! That was the way I was thinking (although the radios are a novel idea). The cracks and leaks were the what I was worried about. Myself I don't think the vent is the problem because I could tell when she was running water or flushed her toilet when I was doing her roof. Also never heard of a plugged vent pipe, but I guess it could happen.
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Old 11-08-2009, 11:30 AM   #7
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Re: Flushing The Vent Stack


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Originally Posted by PA woodbutcher View Post
Thanks!! That was the way I was thinking (although the radios are a novel idea). The cracks and leaks were the what I was worried about. Myself I don't think the vent is the problem because I could tell when she was running water or flushed her toilet when I was doing her roof. Also never heard of a plugged vent pipe, but I guess it could happen.

Maybe someone dropped a huge bomb with a bird sitting on the edge of the pipe and passed out from the fumes. All joking aside though i would imagine one sniff of the top of the vent gives a pretty good idea if its working or not. I always try to find something else to do when it comes time to work around a vent.
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Old 11-08-2009, 06:09 PM   #8
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Re: Flushing The Vent Stack


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Myself I don't think the vent is the problem because I could tell when she was running water or flushed her toilet when I was doing her roof.
No, it doesn't sound like it is. If you read the rest of that article, he points out that if the vent is clogged, you should hear gurgling from any nearby trap (like a sink drain) when you flush. One of the purposes of the vent is to allow air IN to the drain line so that you don't get a siphoning effect--which would cause that gurgling.

The plumber probably just wants it done as a CYA full-service thing.
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Old 11-08-2009, 10:53 PM   #9
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Re: Flushing The Vent Stack


Quote:
Originally Posted by PA woodbutcher View Post
It will be a plumber doing the install. I would imagine they have the proper licensing, one of the bigger outfits in the area doing plumbing and electrical. They were the ones that requested the flushing...apparently to eliminate a venting issue as to why it won't flush. The house is a 2 story with a 12/12 and brand new roof. Not sure what the plumbers concerned with climbing on the roof unless he doesn't like the height or pitch
Don't do it. Let the installing plumber decide for himself. If they suspect a clogged vent, then they will know best how to tackle it. Putting a hose down a vent stack or stack vent more correctly, shouldn't cause any problems unless there is a clog somewhere, in the building drain, sewer or vent system. If it does cause problems, it should show up in the lowest fixture on the floor immediately above the problem. That fixture should start flooding. Given that cast iron only has a life expectancy of about 70ish years, its possible that there are cracks or leaks in the system. In which case, you're gonna get something wet that shouldn't be wet.

A more correct and less destructive method for discovering these leaks and to determine if the vent is indeed clogged would be a smoke test or a scented oil test. These may make the place smell funny for a while, but they won't soak the 100 year old floor and raise your insurance premium.
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Old 11-08-2009, 11:39 PM   #10
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Re: Flushing The Vent Stack


Why would a professional plumber want a third party to do a vent flush? So he shows up and something is wrong and he isn't going to check the vents because someone else he's never met already did? Wtf?

In a system that old I would be wary of simply pouring water down, radios and helpers or not, it might take quite a while before water pools somewhere and starts dripping into the Steinway...

Any modern plumbing outfit should have or is used to using modern tech to see what is going on in there.

My advice FWIW runs long the lines of "You touch it, you own it."

Don't poke any sticks down there please.
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Old 11-09-2009, 03:43 AM   #11
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Re: Flushing The Vent Stack


PA, this happened to me on a job a few years ago, something probably dropped down the vent stack while your guys where doing the roof, maybe a flat bar, for us, my roofers went to remove the flashing boot, as he lifted it, the cast piece that came through the roof somehow slid down the into the stack, it got lodged right at a tee coming off a toilet, capping off the vent, my roofers just slid a new piece of PVC in, and did not tell me what happened. I got the call that night, Now i was doing a large job on the house so he was just adding a non functioing toilet to the list. My plumber and I spent 2 days on that roof trying to hook the 18" section and pull it back through the top F---IN nightmare. Ultimately had to cut open the wall, break into the cast stack, remove obstruction, no hub some pvc into the stack....GOOD LUCK, keep us posted GMOD.
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Old 11-09-2009, 05:37 AM   #12
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Re: Flushing The Vent Stack


Can you not snake it? Although, I never did like the way the cable slaps around on the roof.
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Old 11-09-2009, 05:50 AM   #13
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Re: Flushing The Vent Stack


Like every one else has said--Don't touch it.

The old iron is at least 30 years past the end of its life. You may well have the iron crumble with the slightest touch.

Perhaps they would pay you to get up on the roof while they are there,under their supervision?

This is not a roofers job--if things go bad-a plumber better be on hand to fix it.-MIKE-
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Old 11-09-2009, 07:20 PM   #14
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Re: Flushing The Vent Stack


Thanks guys. Will be at least 2 weeks before I do anything to it...Will make arrangements to meet the plumber there.

My son returns home tomorrow!!. He will only be here a week and would love to meet and get to know the man he has become. He was 18 when he left for the Army....Has done a year in Korea, a year in Iraq and split a year between Oklahoma and Colorado.

I will drop back by and let you know how it goes.

Gene...This was a problem before I did her roof...Not my bad
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Old 11-09-2009, 07:29 PM   #15
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Re: Flushing The Vent Stack


"After you flush the vent, can you carry the commode to the second floor", "My back is out"

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