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Old 01-19-2015, 03:11 PM   #1
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Sink arbitrarily fills with smelly water.


Hello. I need help diagnosing a problem with my kitchen sink. I just began renting this house about a month ago, and side then we've discovered a number of flaws, including a history of water damage from extended water disconnection before we got here.

Back to my problem... My nephew and I were chipping paint today when he noticed that the kitchen sink was filling with water that smelled like sewage. There wasn't any water running anywhere in the house. Nowhere. Not being very literate with plumbing, I tried to twist a couple knobs under the sink - hoping that one might cut off whatever flow of water was coming out. Surprisingly, it actually did cause the water to begin to slowly drain. The thing that really puzzles me about all this though is that there was not a single bit of water running in the house - much less in the kitchen.

Other possibly relevant info:
-We've has a slow drain in that kitchen sink for awhile. Furthermore, we have a leak under the sink in the cabinet if we run the water on the side of the garbage disposal (which doesn't appear to be functional). When we run the water on the garbage disposal side, it tends to back up on the other side, but not on the garbage disposal drain. When the sink randomly backed up today without any water running, it came from both sides, but predominantly the non-garbage disposal side.
-The landlord's "handyman" tried to address the slow drain yesterday, but I was under the impression that he ultimately made a diagnosis and deferred any actual repairs until later.

Is this a local plumbing issue or did the city lines just back up into our sink? Because I don't see why the drains would do that 45 minutes after our most recent water usage. We weren't even running the washer or dish washer. Also, the water coming OUT of the faucet should still be safe, right?

Thanks advance for any help. This house has been stressful enough without sewage-smelling water invading unannounced. I really want to resolve this quickly.
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Old 01-19-2015, 03:21 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beatmixer16 View Post
Hello. I need help diagnosing a problem with my kitchen sink. I just began renting this house about a month ago, and side then we've discovered a number of flaws, including a history of water damage from extended water disconnection before we got here.

Back to my problem... My nephew and I were chipping paint today when he noticed that the kitchen sink was filling with water that smelled like sewage. There wasn't any water running anywhere in the house. Nowhere. Not being very literate with plumbing, I tried to twist a couple knobs under the sink - hoping that one might cut off whatever flow of water was coming out. Surprisingly, it actually did cause the water to begin to slowly drain. The thing that really puzzles me about all this though is that there was not a single bit of water running in the house - much less in the kitchen.

Other possibly relevant info:
-We've has a slow drain in that kitchen sink for awhile. Furthermore, we have a leak under the sink in the cabinet if we run the water on the side of the garbage disposal (which doesn't appear to be functional). When we run the water on the garbage disposal side, it tends to back up on the other side, but not on the garbage disposal drain. When the sink randomly backed up today without any water running, it came from both sides, but predominantly the non-garbage disposal side.
-The landlord's "handyman" tried to address the slow drain yesterday, but I was under the impression that he ultimately made a diagnosis and deferred any actual repairs until later.

Is this a local plumbing issue or did the city lines just back up into our sink? Because I don't see why the drains would do that 45 minutes after our most recent water usage. We weren't even running the washer or dish washer. Also, the water coming OUT of the faucet should still be safe, right?

Thanks advance for any help. This house has been stressful enough without sewage-smelling water invading unannounced. I really want to resolve this quickly.
Not a typical problem and should be addressed by the owner immediately. Sanitary sewer water can harbor all kinds of serious diseases and isn't anything to play around with.
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Old 01-19-2015, 05:10 PM   #3
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Is this a two story house?
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Old 01-19-2015, 05:20 PM   #4
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No, it's single story.
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Old 01-19-2015, 05:51 PM   #5
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beatmixer- I moved this to the plumbing board. We have a few real good drain guys here that might be able to offer some ideas.

Oh, and welcome to the chatroom
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Old 01-19-2015, 05:59 PM   #6
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It is possible that a clogged city main sewer line/manhole can cause a back up. As mentioned, not very likely. If there is no backflow preventer installed on the house sewer line it could cause lower level sinks, toilets, etc. to back up. I've seen this. However, the entire neighborhood would be affected.

If it continues, definitely have the landlord address it as soon as possible. I'm thinking more of a partial blockage somewhere. Kitchen sink lines with garbage disposals are notorious for clogs. You mentioned this is the only place where it happens.

Yes, the water coming out of your faucet is safe.

Others will be along with more advice/suggestions.
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Old 01-19-2015, 06:32 PM   #7
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Sounds like the drain was backing up. There must be a clog somewhere in the main line.
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Old 01-19-2015, 06:42 PM   #8
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Thanks guys - especially Eplumber. The landlord said he's booking his guys to deal with it. I guess we'll see..
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Old 01-20-2015, 07:16 AM   #9
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Note that the control valves under the sink are redundant shutoffs for the hot and cold fresh water. (You use them so you can take apart the faucets to replace washers, cartridges, etc.)

Drains do not have manually operated control valves.

It is only coincidental that the sink started to drain out while you were fidgeting down below.

Are the neighboring houses uphill from you?
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Last edited by AllanJ; 01-20-2015 at 07:25 AM.
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Old 01-20-2015, 08:26 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by beatmixer16 View Post
Thanks guys - especially Eplumber. The landlord said he's booking his guys to deal with it. I guess we'll see..
Very wise move to get your landlord involved. Trying to do all the work yourself without nofying the landlord can cause you to be liable for any damages caused by your work. On the flipside, some landlords could care less about their tenants and would allow a problem like that to fester.
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Old 01-20-2015, 09:17 AM   #11
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@ AllanJ, yes. There is a significant grade to one side.
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