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Old 05-15-2011, 06:32 PM   #16
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Help! Drain fly infestation in my apartment


benjo: I was so sure that the problem would be found and solved by opening up your bathroom like you did. You have gone so far above and beyond anyone I've ever know that had this problem and sadly the problem still exists.

Plumbers and home inspectors/engineers may have camera eqpt. like you are suggesting.

If there was a leak above you, I too think that you would be aware of it.

Aerosol bombs will accomplish nothing. The source must be found. It would kill the larvae if it got into the source, but in days it would start over.

Heating the apartment won't help; MAYBE heating the source would work; but probably temporarily at best. If you knew where the source was, you would solve the problem by removal. Heating the apartment doesn't kill bed bugs-heating the bed bug kills the bugs.

Taping holes on light fixtures is a good idea, especially at this point. Any efforts that will either eliminate or include possibilities is worthwhile. Data collection, as my chemist wife would say.

Some thoughts:

Is it possible that there are floor drains in your apartment that have been covered over by remodeling? Floor drains that have long dried out would be a source.

Were sinks, dishwashers, laundry machines, etc ever moved to a new location, thus possibly leaving an open drain that may have been covered by ensuing remodeling? Again, the drain would dry out and be a source. I've seen this happen.

I still can't stop thinking that a sewage pipe is open somewhere-either cracked or something left uncovered. Sewage pipes are not under pressure so they don't always leak solids, but gasses/flies escape.

The moisture meter idea is intriguing. Home inspection/engineer business would be helpful.

Don't give up-you will solve this and we will all learn from it. Whatever is causing this is not your fault. Keep us informed; we appreciate it.

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Old 05-15-2011, 09:13 PM   #17
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Help! Drain fly infestation in my apartment


Thank you so much Bugman. It is really helpful to hear your advice. Good to know there is someone out there listening. I can't stress my husband about this, he has enough stress with his work.

I have two appointments with two different exterminators tomorrow. One sounds like a typical waste of time. The other sounded interesting, he is the only exterminator so far that sounds like he is interested in doing the research and finding the source. He sounded intelligent and said all of the right things. he is bringing along a union plumber that he works with that he said is excellent and can offer assistance. (Afraid what this is going to cost me!). At this point I am willing to punch holes in my ceiling to take a look at the pipes running through the top of my ceiling. I am on a rare floor that has drop ceilings (made from sheet rock), most of the apartments in my building have concrete ceilings. This of course makes it much more complicated as the pipe could be anywhere. The flies are in this air space.

Also I have 4 toilets (or had 4 toilets, now I have 3 since we removed the one in the master bath). So there are many sewage pipes running through here.

This exterminator mentioned going upstairs to inspect the setback terrace that sits above my living room and looking at their ports (I don't even know what that means). I am hoping these neighbors allow me access. They are typically extremely difficult and unhelpful and private. I have been in touch with my building manager and he said he will try his best to help me.

This is going to be a long process but I guess finding the source will be cheaper than moving, so I am in it for the long haul. I will do whatever it takes to get rid of these flies. My greatest fear is that there are multiple sources now.

I will keep you posted. My next step in the master bathroom is to have the contractors use a special foam to completely fill any and all gaps surrounding the pipes.

I wish I could use the smoke test but I don't think that will get approved in a building 32 floors high. The smoke might freak out a few folks - ha!

As for hidden drains, I know for sure that I don't. This building is only 10 years old and my apartment was raw space when we moved in. I was literally here when the walls were put up. Everything was built as is and I didn't make any changes. However my upstairs neighbors made many changes, added a central air system (the rest of the tenants have wall units) and changed the location of all of their bathrooms. They own floor 31 and 32, a massive duplex. But again, they are saying they haven't seen any flies up there.

So the saga continues and I will keep you posted as soon as I have any sort of an update.

Thanks again for allowing me to share.
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Old 05-16-2011, 08:42 AM   #18
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Help! Drain fly infestation in my apartment


So interesting news today. I did not walk into the demo-ed master bath at all this weekend. Today the contractor's arrived and went in there to finish the demo and he said there is an overwhelming stench of sewage in there. He can hardly stay inside. I never thought I'd be happy to hear about sewage stench but this must mean there is a sewage leak somewhere, right?

I just called the Super to come up and smell for himself. I also researched plumbers last night that do video camera pipe inspection, and made two calls this morning to two different local plumbers that offer this service.

yeah! sewage stench!!

The strange thing is that they have been in there for about 2 weeks now and this is the first time that they have smelled this odor. Why wouldn't it have been there before?

Last edited by benjo; 05-16-2011 at 08:45 AM.
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Old 05-16-2011, 10:08 AM   #19
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Help! Drain fly infestation in my apartment


Update: Super and contractor think it is a dead animal, not a pipe. Just strange that it didn't smell last week.
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Old 05-16-2011, 04:42 PM   #20
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Help! Drain fly infestation in my apartment


I had a very good meeting with an exterminator this afternoon, who is also a licensed union plumber. He was very helpful and really seems to know what he is doing.

He had me take a deep breath in different parts of the bathroom and then breathe by the toilet and it is evident that the smell is strongest by the toilet area. We also saw some flies hovering around where the toilet used to be (it is now capped). He detected a very strong sewage smell coming from the toilet. As the day progressed today the odor dissipated, and he said that is because today the bathroom door was being open and closed all day by the contractors that are still moving tile and garbage and insulation out of there. The smell was able to dissipate throughout the day (I guess into my apartment - gross). Because the door was closed for two days this weekend the smell was extremely strong this morning. So I guess that means no dead animal, definitely a sewage situation.

He thought it was the toilet. But I told him that the flies were behind the wall before, not the toilet. He guessed it is probably a cracked sewage or vent pipe, and if it is not cracked it is a hub that is not sealed properly.

He said we do the following: 1) do a video examination of the pipe 2) pour a combination of Gentrol and IC2 down the pipe to kill the larvae 3) Jet the lines. Then if necessary 4) bomb the apartment with Gentrol. He said Gentrol is a poison that will cause the flies to be born with defects and they die within 2 hours of birth and are unable to lay eggs.

Then finally he will change all of the hubs on the pipes and completely seal them off.

He is getting back to me with a price for all of this by wednesday. He is guessing it will come out to between 5k and 7k. I am already 5k in for the demo. I am wondering how much of this insurance will cover if any. I am also afraid to get insurance involved because I am afraid they will drop me. I was already dropped once by Chubb because of a major leak that was caused by my upstairs neighbor.

How does this all sound? Does it sound legit? It made sense to me and I think I am going to move forward with this man. Right now I feel that I am in good hands.
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:36 PM   #21
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Help! Drain fly infestation in my apartment


Yes, the sewage stench is exciting! Psychoda (sewer flies) come from sewage or stagnant water.

Odors also come and go because of negative/positive air pressures due to air handling eqpt., barometric pressure, exhaust fans, temperatures, etc.

Gentrol is an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR). We use it a lot, mostly for roaches, sometimes for stored product pests. It is labeled for fruit flies, filth flies (your guys), etc. At the risk of sounding like a broken record-finding, removing, repairing is so much more effective than any chemical treatment. I think that "Jetting the lines" (if that means cleaning) will be more beneficial as will the ensuing repairs.

Bombing the apartment with Gentrol wouldn't be necessary or effective, as they are not breeding/living in the apt. It won't hurt anything, as Gentrol is so safe it is almost non-toxic. We use it in restaurants, medical facilities routinely. The IGR's have changed our industries tactics a lot (for the better). I don't know what IC2 is. He does sound like a very legit and professional operator. My difference of opinion as to the use of gentrol as he wishes should not discourage you from hiring him. I'm not experienced in that type of building or urban area-he is. Our apt bldgs are about 3-4 stories at the most, unless we go to Harrisburg (not much higher).

Once their source is destroyed, cleaned, sealed off-they will not have a breeding media. If you continue to see live adult flies after all this-then the problem still hasn't been solved.

If it turns out to be the sewage pipe; isn't that a "common" pipe to the entire bldg? Shouldn't that be the expense of building/condo ownership?

I have a feeling that you are close to solving this; I can't help but think that building owner ship may have a financial liability here. Keep the updates coming.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:26 PM   #22
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Help! Drain fly infestation in my apartment


According to the exterminator IC2 is an eco-friendly natural pesticide that is made out of wintermint, clove oil and thyme oil.

I will keep you posted when we get started... hopefully within the next two weeks.
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Old 05-18-2011, 10:45 AM   #23
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Help! Drain fly infestation in my apartment


Glad you're making progress - best of luck. It sounds like this will be sorted soon.

Yet whether or not you should get your insurance involved should depend on if or not you can afford the work yourself. If you can't, why place yourself in debt if the insurance will pay for it?

Good luck again
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Old 05-23-2011, 10:38 PM   #24
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Help! Drain fly infestation in my apartment


Hello Benjo-

I live downtown and was curious about your outcome- how did it go? I would like to get the name of the plumber you used.
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Old 05-30-2011, 11:27 PM   #25
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Unfortunately i have made no progress at all with our drain fly problem. We have discovered that the sewage smell was there because when we removed the toilet during the bathroom demo, it was not capped properly. Once we capped the toilet the right way, the smell dissapeared.

To say i am frustrated and desperate is an understatement. I wish i could offer advice on plumbers but so far not a single one has offered any useful advice. No one seems to want to tackle this problem. Even my building manager is avoiding the issue. He sent me an entomologist who poked around a little, went to the basement to look at pipes and then told me i need to locate the source. Duh.

I did like John from Hub Plumbing but he just came for an estimate, then sent his partner for a 2nd opinion. Both said that my bathroom is bone dry, no signs of leaks, everything looks perfect. To do a video of each pipe would be $700 per pipe and there are so many pipes they did not think it was worth the money to me. He said finding a separated vent line could be like finding a "needle in a haystack" in my apartment(if that is the problem). I called him back last week about trying a smoke test, and he said he would ask his supplier about that, but I haven't heard back from him since. He did have a very nice disposition and seemed like a nice guy, but I can't speak for his work.

The only person who has appeared interested in helping is Craig with Pestaway. He is an exterminator and a plumber and he has been very helpful and eager to help me. Unfortunately the owner of that company Jeff is very unethical. After sending Craig over twice for an estimate (I had him come a 2nd time after discovering that the sewer smell was just the toilet plug) Jeff told me i owed him $275 per Craig's visit for a consult fee. This had never been brought up to me before. They had told me their estimates were free. Suddenly he was calling it a consultation. He said " what do you expect, we give advice for free?" . Not a smart business man since i was considering moving forward with him for thousands of dollars. Of course i didn't pay and now I don't trust the company at all. Jeff was just so sleazy.

I don't know what to do. I was told a smoke test will not work in an apartment building because with 32 floors I could not build up enough pressure for the smoke test to be effective. I was told that hydro-jetting my pipes may not work because the jet may only be able to reach a limited distance ( is this true? I have no idea. I have yet to research hydro-jetting). My contractor, who I really like, feels that it is not a pipe problem at all.

Our next move is to remove all of the insulation in the bathroom, use expansion foam to fill in every opening we can reach around pipes from floor to ceiling to seal the room up, and then put carpet tape up between the beams facing into the rest of the apartment to try to catch the flies to determine which direction they may be coming from. My contractor feels the source has something to do with the central air conditioning unit that sits above my bedroom foyer from my upstairs neighbors. We are trying to get access into their apartment, which isn't easy. They are not very cooperative. Also they have not complained of flies. Perhaps they haven't seen any because their condensation line is under a slab and the flies are finding a better path to my place?? Just a thought.

So now I am sitting with a demo'd bathroom and just waiting. I will not close the walls until this issue is resolved. I feel the problem is somewhere very close to that master bath. If there are no flies downstairs, and no flies upstairs, and some flies around my apartment but most in that vicinity... I have to be close, right?

This is utterly depressing. They are getting worse by the day, I feel like I am living some sort of bad horror movie. Manhattan apartment swarmed by flies. UGH.

I will continue to keep you all posted. Any support or advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 05-30-2011, 11:34 PM   #26
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Help! Drain fly infestation in my apartment


As for the building's financial responsibility, the building manager told me that if the problem is indeed with the sewage lines, then yes it is their responsibility to fix any leak and have the financial burden. But he is not willing to take the appropriate steps to locate the problem. The burden of proof seems to fall on me right now. Thus the reason he is avoiding me I am guessing. He doesn't return emails when I ask about hydro jetting and smoke tests etc.. But I am persistent, I will continue to stalk him in the nicest way possible.

I am already in $5k for the demo. The exterminator/plumber quoted me $5200 to hydro jet with chemicals. Seems like a lot, doesn't it?
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Old 07-28-2011, 10:10 PM   #27
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Help! Drain fly infestation in my apartment


My drain fly saga continues. I had the pipes in my master bedroom video inspected and found nothing. Then i had the same pipes tested with a smoke bomb and found nothing. I paid the exterminator that i thought was so nice Craig $1500 as a deposit to fog my ceiling and snake and clean all of the pipes in the apartment. He has since dissappeared without doing the work and is not returning calls or emails. I have learned since then that he is a scam artist with a reputation for taking money and not following through on his work. So on top of my bug problem I have been robbed of $1500 from a supposed exterminator. Turns out he isnt even a licensed plumber as he had claimed to be. No wonder he was so eager to "help". He saw my desperation and completely took advantage of me and robbed me.

The flies are still there but seem to be reduced in number lately, no idea why. I checked the a/c unit above me and it is fine. Pulled apart my washer dryer unit and that is fine too. I am cursed with this problem. It is truly baffling.

In such a large building I may never find the source but I will not stop trying.

Last edited by benjo; 07-29-2011 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 07-29-2011, 05:22 PM   #28
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Help! Drain fly infestation in my apartment


I'm stunned at your experience with "Craig". I've thought of you lately, wondering. I wish you weren't going thru this. Building management should be more active and helpful since it is an obvious problem as opposed to a vague complaint. I wish I knew what to do/say.
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Old 09-03-2011, 12:24 PM   #29
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Help! Drain fly infestation in my apartment


I also have tiny black flies congregating around the windows by the cart loads. I noticed them ever since there has been constant leaks through my ceiling from a busted tank in the loft of our neigbours. Their tank finally got fixed after 6 weeks, so a long time of stagnant water in the loft and apart from the damp smell from next doors walls. These flies have since appeared. They don't keep their drains clean either. So guess that could be the reason. So what will get rid of them and how long will it take. Thanks
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:11 AM   #30
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Help! Drain fly infestation in my apartment


I live in old NYC apt. I read Benjo's posts and the replies with interest. The idea of sealing off possible entry points to identify where the pests are coming from is great, and I am trying it with saran.

I have flies that look like the ones that congregate in our lobby during the summer. They fly around certain places where there's no obvious attractant.

They are not psychoda. They look like d. melanogaster except bellies are striped. Also, they do not get caught by d. melanogaster vinegar traps.

They invaded my apartment during the winter and remain. They like the kitchen near the sink where I hang my onions and potatoes (none are rotting). Moving the vegetables and cleaning up the area of water helps somewhat. They aren't reproducing in the sink drain; we eat pasta weekly, and the boiling water would kill larvae.

I photographed one of them with a macro lens. they are the size of drosophila and their wings fold like drosophila. No hairs. I can upload photo.

Can anyone help me identify them so I can develop a strategy to defeat them before summer?

I have an interesting story about a mouse infestation I solved if anyone's interested.

Thanks!

Peter

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