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Old 09-12-2010, 11:36 PM   #1
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I maintain a multi-unit property and have a problem that I can't resolve.

First the details...This complex is 5 Floors, each floor is back to back connected to the apartment next to it, share waste drain for washing machine and kitchen sink, 1st and 3rd floor has garbage disposals, building is 21 years old, all units above have regulated washing machine powder and most of all this problem does not occure with any other unit.

Ok, here is the problem...The 1st floor resident complains that there are backflow of suds in their kitchen sink (she thinks it's from washer)

What I have already done...Ran a drive rod down the vent from the roof all the way PAST the 1st floor, poured pipe cleaner and enzyme cleaner from the 5th, 3rd and 1st floor as well as pulling the 1st floor kitchen sink plumbing....still the same problem...2 months on going problem.

HELP!!!!!

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Old 09-13-2010, 06:03 AM   #2
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Have you run an auger snake down the final drain line??? Clearing the vent was a good idea, but I suspect a partial clog of the drain, not the vent.

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Old 09-13-2010, 09:51 AM   #3
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In any house, complex, etc., kitchen drains are the worse simply because they get the most abuse. Being 21 years old; that means you have 21 years of accumulation of grease, grime, soap scum, etc. Imagine using the same frying pan for 21 years without a thorough cleaning. Gross. It's probably undersized as well. Is it 1 1/2"? Should be 2". The kitchen line should be cleaned with a mini-jetter (about 1200psi). That's the only way to really clean the inside of the line properly bringing it back to near original condition. 21 years of accumulation have it necked down in spots (smaller inside diameter) causing a back-up during times of heavy use. Additionally, if someone is using too much soap or a soap that foams too much; the suds are taking up airspace in the top of the pipe, so they take the path of least resistance. A snake probably isn't going to remedy this problem and chemical drain cleaners are a waste of money.
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Old 09-13-2010, 11:11 AM   #4
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Now a days, we engineers design laundry drain stacks to run independant from the general waste stack to avoid problems like this. What you have is the laundry and kitchen sink wastes connected together into one common waste riser, and when that riser goes horizontal under the first floor slab, it creates a "suds pressure zone" from the water turbulance in the piping. The suds then takes the path of least resistance, which should be to go up the vent at the base of the stack, (there should be a suds relief vent at the base of the stack, but probably not) and over time, like lateral concepts mentions, you have buildup in the waste line that is making the suds condition worse, and now its coming out of the lowest level sink drain. Short of reconfiguring the drain piping to avoid the suds pressure zone, or short of running new independant laundry waste lines, your going to have to have this line jetted really well. It sounds like this wasn't a problem for the first 20 years of this building, but you could also talk to the upstairs tenants and see if they changed their laundry detergent brand recently. You could recommend possibly using detergent that doesn't create a lot of suds in their washing machines.
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Old 09-13-2010, 11:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Engineer View Post
Now a days, we engineers design laundry drain stacks to run independant from the general waste stack to avoid problems like this. What you have is the laundry and kitchen sink wastes connected together into one common waste riser, and when that riser goes horizontal under the first floor slab, it creates a "suds pressure zone" from the water turbulance in the piping. The suds then takes the path of least resistance, which should be to go up the vent at the base of the stack, (there should be a suds relief vent at the base of the stack, but probably not) and over time, like lateral concepts mentions, you have buildup in the waste line that is making the suds condition worse, and now its coming out of the lowest level sink drain. Short of reconfiguring the drain piping to avoid the suds pressure zone, or short of running new independant laundry waste lines, your going to have to have this line jetted really well. It sounds like this wasn't a problem for the first 20 years of this building, but you could also talk to the upstairs tenants and see if they changed their laundry detergent brand recently. You could recommend possibly using detergent that doesn't create a lot of suds in their washing machines.
Thank you. Two questions..
1.) Can you direct me on how to install a "suds relief vent"?
2.) How is the best way to jet the pipes?
Thank You Again
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Old 09-14-2010, 07:04 AM   #6
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Attached PDF is an illustration of what a laundry waste riser should look like in a multi-story building. You configuration is probably much different depending on the code requirements in your state at the time the building was first built.

I circled the location of the suds pressure zone, on the right, which starts at the ceiling of the first floor and goes under the first floor slab to a specific distance down the horizontal depending on the pipe size( 10 pipe diameters minimum). The suds relief vent is also circled in the middle and starts after the suds pressure zone and is piped back to the vent on the 2nd floor. Your 1st floor tenants sink probably connects right into the suds pressure zone above the first floor slab. Installing a new suds relief vent may not solve the problem, and it will be very costly in a already finished space. Your best option might be to disconnect the first floor sink from the stack, cap the connection to the riser, and run a new waste line from the sink, down through the floor, and run it parallel to the existing horizontal until you get past the suds pressure zone and reconnect into the main line after this suds zone. If there is a basement under the 1st floor tenant, this may not be to difficult to do, but if its just slab on grade, slab cutting will be required.

Hope this helps, i'm not familiar with the logistics of jetting pipes, maybe someone else can chime in on that.
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File Type: pdf LaundryIllustration.pdf (41.6 KB, 230 views)
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:31 AM   #7
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Quote:
2.) How is the best way to jet the pipes?
Call a professional. Look in the yellow pages. Find companies that specialize in drain cleaning service "hydro-jetting", hydro-scrubbing", "pipe jetting", they all call it somethin' a little different. Check with your neighbors, bbb, etc. for recommendations. Pricing can vary. If you don't know what you're doing you can make a huge mess. It may need to be cabled (snaked) before jetting also.

Sounds like your problem lies under the slab, so only jetting from the 1st floor should do the trick. Jetting from 5th floor or roof vent however, may be good for preventative maintenance but will likely cost more.

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