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SewerBreath 04-24-2011 05:14 PM

Bubbling Toilet, Pilot Light in furnace out, extremely sick, MOLD!
2 Attachment(s)
I lived in a house in minnesota for a year and a half. I lived upstairs for the first 8 months. Then moved down into the "gas chamber". The toilet bubbles downstairs and does everytime the water runs upstairs, and down. The wax ring on the toilet broke and we call it the "teeter turder", the leak now comes out the side underneath the toilet, unless I sit on it just right then it seals and will bubble intensly. House is from the 50's and has a loose cap on the large iron plumbing pipe also, it was opened to unclog some roots in the drainage pipe with a long snake. The clog was fixed and the cap put on badly (bad threads) with a small hole you can see where it can leak through the pipe dope. This was 3 months ago and since the clog is gone but the toilet bubbles.
A month ago I went into the ER for a misterious medical problem, dying from the inside, from the lungs my body was inflating. I called a friend to rescue me because I was clearly dying from something. I stayed on their floor and made it through the night by getting out of the house. The doctor said I have bronchitis and gave me antibiotics. Little did I know the circulation on the furnace was shut off about that time, the pilot light being out for a month already. Once the antibiotics wore off a week later it came back intensly and again I had to leave the house and go to the doctor. Between mold allergies, bronchitis, cold, flu, tetanus, bacterial infection they didnt know what it was. I recovered from whatever I had and went back to the house, the first night could barely make it and almost had to cope with dying. I woke up in sweat very angry and confused why im still sick. Completely frustrated I worked and went back to the house, I went insane and had to leave the house that night or it was all she wrote. I went to my parents farm completely losing my mind. The next day felt better and now 2 days later feel way better. I went back to feed my fish and could smell flammable gas in the roof of the basement, clearly. I told the roommate and he still wants to blame it on mold from my fish tanks. So there is a pilot leak in the furnace and a sewer leak coming from the toilet. Since the landlord is saying I have to pay to test it when I can clearly smell gas. A match or lighter would possibly explode the house so I left right away.

So 5 g's in medical bills later and also a couple in rent because Ive been too sick and dilusional to get to work.

I am wondering what people think about this legally and responsibly as a human being what should be done. I have 3 fish tanks totalling 200 gallons in the basement which might add some humidity. Everything is being done to blame on fish tanks, when I have lived with them in a smaller room previously for 10 years with no health problems at all. While I clean the tanks It drains fish poop into the pipes. With 50 years of human feces going down the drain it is looked at as the tanks causing the gas. The furnace is gas burning and has a large tank that gets filled every year or two in the basement.

I am looking for some opinions, from professional plumbers if possible, if they have ever seen this. Furnace pro's what should be done about the pilot light and is it a problem being out for many months with the funace turned off. I can smell gas in the furnace, I dont know how it hasn't exploded already from what I know about the situation. Is it possible to have the city to look or check because I can't justify the house making me sick AND paying for medical bills, testing and past rent.
Go ahead and vote on the poll! I appreciate everyones help I'll put the advice to use!!

nap 04-24-2011 05:27 PM

another guy lives there and is having no problems?

if you smell what you believe to be flammable gas, call the fire department, the gas service company, or the gas supplier. At least one of them in every area I am aware of will use a tester and check for the presence if gas free of charge.

to the toilet issue; have you provided written notice to your LL of the problem? It is a health issue in more ways than one and must be corrected.

if he pilot was out on the furnace, if things work properly, there is a thermocouple that shuts off all gas flow.

If the pilot is on but you believe there is a leak of combustion gases, a carbon monoxide detector should give you the answer to that. Are there any CO detectors in the house.

SewerBreath 04-24-2011 05:55 PM

Yea I told him about it right away and he said I can go to walmart and pay $70 for a methane test kit. I reacted instantly to the gas and it takes a day or two to recover from 5 minutes in the basement. I should have called the firedepartment but the landlord seemed to not care. No there are no Carbon monoxide detectors that I know of. There are two others in the house that have misterious medical problems that they have been to the hospital for but seem to ignore it and refuse that there is a problem, while I think they are not 100% healthy. The others are upstairs away from the real problem, I lived up there and just had slight mental clarity issues, moved down and it got worse.

I am going to a specialist doctor tomorrow to figure out if I have allergie's, cancer or am suffering from toxic gas poisoning. After the doctor visit I will surely call department of health or fire department to test the house. I hope the pilot light has an auto shutoff, two hours after feeding my fish in the basement for 5 minutes, I can taste the gas when I exhale. The toilet is looked at as my problem because I am supposed to buy a toilet, because I am behind on rent it's thought that it's my fault anyways. Since I have no money for rent or a toilet I am supposed to suffer... lol. While if I had clean air I could think clearly enough to find a better job and get to work every day. I went from photoreading pages of information to almost dying and not thinking straight, now that i am out of the house I am getting my thinking process back. Maybe that thermocouple is broke, ill have to take this into consideration. Thanks for the help.

nap 04-24-2011 06:40 PM

I said:

did you give him written notice of the defect,

Not; did you tell him about it. There is a world of difference when it comes to pushing things.

You need to also contact your local governmental authority to check on the legal requirements for CO detectors and if you are living in the basement, if that can legally be used for sleeping quarters. There are special rules that must be complied with for it to be used as sleeping quarters.

SewerBreath 04-24-2011 07:11 PM

Yea I have pushed it for weeks that he needs a real plumber or someone to take a look, it's a friend as well as landlord with a verbal agreement on the living space, good thinking.. I will check on the C0 detector situation also. I have tried everything to make him look at the situation seriously because it is obviously costing me my entire life. Honestly it's complete ignorance that's keeping him from properly fixing the house. Because he is crazy about the house and it's almost beyond belief that something could be wrong with it. I could scream in his face to fix it and it wouldn't do much, so I am taking into my own hands now until it's fixed then I might have to do the letter thing. If the house isn't on the news tonight... for exploding.

AllanJ 04-24-2011 08:21 PM

When you are out of the house every day for several hours, such as at work, then do you always start to feel better?

(The answer would also be no if it takes several hours for the effects of carbon monoxide or methane or other poisoning to wear off.)

Normally the pilot light gas feed on a furnace or water heater will seal itself off in a minute or two if the pilot goes out. If you try to light the pilot without pushing down on the control button mentioned in the instructions and it lights itself anyway then the thermocouple or a related part has failed and you are getting raw gas about the basement. If you light the pilot light and it stays lit then there is no more toxic gas from that location.

Have you tried airing out the house completely using a large fan in one window and opening other windows one at a time for about 20 minutes per window?

Fish Tank Moisture causing mold in the air. Probably not. But the increased humidity increases the chance of mold elsewhere nearby

Leaking Furnace Pilot light causing toxic gas buildup. Probably so, if it is indeed leaking.

Broken pipe under the house letting methane and gas to bubble from toilet. A broken pipe under the house won't cause gas to bubble from the toilet.

Fish Tank cleaning causing fish poop build up in pipes creating a toxic gas. Probably not.

Human feces building up in pipe's causing a toxic gas to emerge from toilet. Probably so. Leftover sewage in the pipe will generate sewer gas in the same manner as the contents of the sewer or septic tank.

Lazyness, not exercising enough. Probably not in this case.

Crack in foundation of house leaking toxic mold spores into the air. If there is mold in the crack then probably so.

Irresponsible landowner. Only to the extent he is not addressing problems that his responsibility and that make the house uninhabitable.

Mold on fish tanks. Probably so.

SewerBreath 04-24-2011 08:35 PM

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Getting out of the house is the only time I would start to feel better. I would be gasping for air in the house even puffing on the inhaler the doctor gave me with no improvement, even wearing a filtration mask in the basement didnt do anything. I still got dizzy after wearing the high effiency filtration mask. I got better after 4 days, then went back hoping it was just a flu or something, thinking it was mold I put the mask on and still would get sick. I felt by head and body start to "inflate" and expand. I tried exercising and drinking lots of water but I kept feeling more and more inflated. Leaving would make me feel better almost immediately, slowly getting better as hours pass, after several hours I feel better but still it takes days to feel "good" again. Which would be consistant with developing an inability to remove the toxins. I was already extremely sensitive to carbon monoxide from being exposed at work countless times.

The sump pump somehow unplugged itself from the wall, and the basement started flooding, soaking the walls almost all the way around the basement, It is the Fargo, ND flood day!! The worst day for the sump to go out. Thats why I thought It was mold because it's probably soaked in the walls, trapped. After drying and spraying with bleach the problem was supposedly gone. Here are some pics of around the foundation of the house. Centipede's regularily make thier way into the basement also signalling a foundation crack.

Yea when I went back the first time I left the bathroom exhaust fan on for the four days, I had fans going in all rooms, all mold was sprayed with bleach. The only time the air smelled fresh was at this time. I hoped that it was all over and turned the fan off, and went back to normal. It was almost completely aired out. That night I felt it coming back, not as bad to make be run out but I woke up in sweat. The next night right on que as if gas was building up... I was suffocating and had to leave.

The fish tank mold I know I am not allergic to, I have had them for 10 years and have practically sniffed a line and it doesn't effect me whatsoever. I also asked the doctor if I could be allergic to the tanks and he said it's highly unlikely since I've been aound them so long I would have had problems before.

yuri 04-24-2011 09:01 PM

The pilot light gives off a TINY amount of gas and it rises up the chimney with the natural draft of the chimney so it is not your problem. ALL furnaces have 100% pilot gas shutoff which cannot fail except for 1% of the antique millivolt furnaces. They calculated the gas escaping to be miniscule and not enough to explode or cause health problems. You are PROBABLY getting methane gas from the loose wax seal of the toilet. It can also be produced by decaying organic material like fish poop in the drain etc. Sounds like the plumbing vent/stack for the house is not working properly and you are getting sewer gas spillage into your apt. Methane is very nasty and dangerous and can make you very sick. If you are renting then the rentalsman's office or public health dept should be able to help you. The city public works guys have methane gas detectors and the gas co has gas detectors as well as CO detectors. Try call them and NICELY see if they can help you.

71Cutlasss 04-24-2011 11:44 PM

Hey Bro! A bad seal on a toilet is a bad thing. Not only is it human waste particles and such going on the floor, but its also more than likely going into the dirt below the concrete slab, and the theres the sewer gas too. The toilet also has the largest hole and would let the most amount of gas into the house.

Even in new construction you can have sewer gas even though the line from the house to the sewer main hasnt been used you still get gas from the main and the line all up and down the main sewer. Fish poop is small potatoes. In an old house like that its possible that the old plumbing, if its cast iron, can rot away and the sewer gas can go up through the dirt and go through cracks in the concrete. Having any open hole in the plumbing waste system is bad.

Usually there are bubbles in the drainage system from a bad vent or a bad drain. Most of the time its a bad vent. A bad vent wont let the air in around the water, and when the water is trying to drain it will pull the air from the easiest place. Also if there are stools stacked on top of eachother coming down the same stack and the vent is bad, it will start sucking air from the easiest place.

As far as smelling natural gas, all modern appliances whether a furnace, water heater, range, etc have thermocouples, but it would depend on how old the furnace is. You said the furnace has been off for a while. You probably didnt happen to notice if it has a gas cock to shut off gas to the unit, and if it was turned off? If youre smelling natural gas its a big problem for all the obvious reasons, and xcel or whoever needs to be called asap. If youre smelling gas, you think the landlord would want that resolved, because its obviously after the meter, so someone is paying for that wasted gas. And yes, if theres a leak suspected they will come out with a leak detector.

As far as the tanks making too much humidity i dont buy it. Im sure someone could calculate the volume of water being heated, the temperature being heated to, the room size and ambient temp/humidity and figure out the percentage that it would increase. I bet it may be 4% at a total max. And drains are meant for waste. Fish waste is weak compared to human waste.

And wearing a little nuisance dust mask isnt going to do nothing. If its that bad a proper mask is needed probably with an oxygen supply.

Obviously im not a lawyer, but I imagine someone would be at fault for unsafe living conditions Make sure everything is documented, call xcel, keep pictures, medical bills etc, health department, and call the news stations if they wont help you out. The fishtank excuse is a load of BS.

Our first apartment we lived in had our kitchen stack back up. At first it would drain slowly, then wouldnt drain, then started backing up. Our landlord didnt wanna do anything, so we told him if he didnt get it fixed we were gonna call the health dept and have them come take a look at it and see if it was safe to have raw sewage backing up into our apartment. Even in that case, the p-trap was still intact so there was no sewer gas. In a stool, the p-trap is part of the toilet bowl so if it rocks the wax seal will break causing the waste/gas leak. And if the bowl isnt secured correctly, then either the closet flange is broken (ie old cast iron) or was installed incorrectly by an idiot.

SewerBreath 04-25-2011 03:27 PM

What are the odds my brother is a professional plumber and I am sick from sewer gas! Lol Im happy I can laugh about it. While the bronchitis is coming back after antibiotic treatment I have to go in tomorrow to get checked or given better antibiotics because the bacteria came back. The professional allergist gave me a diagnosis. He said I am suffering and reacting from toxic fumes, sewer gas to be exact. With no allergies whatsoever detected he urged me to get away from the gas, there is no sign I am or ever was allergic to mold or any other kind of spore. Once the bronchitis is cured after excessive exposure to sewer gas I will be completely recovered and can go back to work. I am glad this is finally getting resolved after many months of deteriorating health.

Bud Cline 04-25-2011 04:25 PM

Good Lord!!!!!! There's enough fodder in that first post to keep the producers of General Hospital in fresh TV episodes for a year.:)

A bad toilet gasket doesn't necessarily cause a toilet to teeter. A bad connection the floor will cause the appliance to teeter and will ruin a wax seal. Once a wax seal is compromised there is no fixing that seal. Replacing the seal without getting to the cause of the toilet teetering is a waste of time. The landlord needs to repair the teetering toilet and replace the seal afterwards. Call your local plumbing inspector for an inspection. Until the wobbling toilet is fixed and the damaged wax seal replaced sewer gasses will be an issue.

The gurgling toilet is likely to be blockage that remains in the sewer line. Just because the line was recently cleaned doesn't mean it was cleaned properly. Complain to the plumber or sewer cleaner company and let them come back and do the job they were paid to do to begin with.

Not sure how you would survive for a month in that property comfortably without heat this time of year. If there is no working pilot light there is no heat. If you think the gas line is leaking call 911 and tell the Fire Department you have a gas leak. They will come running, do the necessary testing, involve the gas inspector, and make recommendations that will hold up with the local authorities that can in turn make your landlord see the liability of his ways.

The gas-fuel for the heater is in a storage tank in the basement??? If that is true, point it out to the Fire Department when they get there.

Your "friend/landlord" doesn't sound like a friend to me. But on the other hand if you can't/aren't paying your rent you can't expect your "friend" to get too excited. Call the health department and see if that doesn't pique his interest in your issues, or get you thrown out. Either way you would be better off and live to talk about it later.

You don't lean towards being a little over-dramatic do you? I didn't think so.:)

How are you paying the medical costs? OH WAIT! I'll bet WE (all of us) are paying them for you.:)

At any rate you are messing with disaster if you don't get some determination and take some actions.:yes:

AllanJ 04-25-2011 08:34 PM

If the furnace is malfunctioning then the building inspector can order it shut down and can even condemn the building. The landlord might be able to buy some time to get things fixed if there is adequate electrical capacity and the landlord pays for the power to run electric space heaters. (You might buy one and use it in the meantime.)

SewerBreath 04-25-2011 08:55 PM

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Haha I hope general hospital doesn't rip off my situation and make a show about it! :laughing:

At least one of the toilet bolts are completely gone. The toilet was sealed correctly many months ago and bubbles came from the toilet randomly and also when water upstairs is turned on for a while. The amount of gas would be up and down depending on "how it felt" apparently.. The vent stack many months ago was checked because the toilet was bubbling out of control. The vent stack was clear and the snake handle somehow fell into the vent stack for good. We barely got the snake back out... the handle for the snake is about 3 inches around by 6 inches and got stuck in the pipe causing a problem for later. If that handle gets clogged (maybe it is now..) it will eventually cause worse problems like a complete clog of the vent stack.
The basement has radiant heaters with turny knobs. The upstairs was running on a plug in 1500 watt heater and still is. The "oil burning" furnace ran out and we use backup heat.. lol.
Yes thats why I can't blame him for the situation, I was behind on rent but assured that it would be paid back because I am starting a job tomorow with health insurance and high wage. I ignored the problem long enough and it built up worse and worse. A person can tell themself that it will be fine, but it only works for so long, it's the gasses talking and something definetely needed to be done and it was solved by leaving and getting fresh air.
The basement was aired out with fans and then it tested with a "Combustable Gas tester". Was said that there were no toxic gasses. The tester was inserted into the cap of the sewer drain and detected no gasses. If the tester was accually inside the pipe... and nothing was detected, then it seems that the gas tester is the wrong product to use because there are definetely toxic fumes inside a sewer pipe that can make you sick, you would think right? Maybe the water was ran and flushed it clean along with the vent stack working properly. This is what is done by the LL and was said that I need to check my mental health because there's no fumes...DETECTED. It sure seems in their favor.. My suggestion was to let the gas build up by waiting more than 2 hours, more like a day or two... or more because it took two weeks with all windows shut and furnace shut off before I was suffocated. Give it a chance by using a real toxic fume detector, not just combustable gases. Even the "combustible" gas detector should detect something if given a chance.
I added a diagram of the design hoping it will help. It's not perfect but is pretty close to how it is set up. It shows the possible crack in the pipe, the feces build up and also the possible mold issue. The build up is probably spread through the pipe, the diagram showing just a small portion. The crack in the pipe could let in gasses from under the house.

COLDIRON 04-26-2011 06:15 AM

" just move"

oh'mike 04-26-2011 07:26 AM


Originally Posted by COLDIRON (Post 636741)
" just move"

This post is open again---There you go sewer breath--

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