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Toilet Bowl Water Shakes

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Toilet Bowl Water Shakes

Postby Agustin » Thu Nov 17, 2016 1:02 am

I have three bathrooms,one downstairs & 2 upstairs in a split level home. We went from a septic system to the city water & sewer a few years ago. I ripped out a wall in the basement looking for a water leak and found the breather pipe had a piece of steel wool in it. I capped it and then uncapped it when someone told me you couldn't do that. the down stairs shower has a smell coming from the drain and sometimes you can hear the traffic on the road(we are on the corner by the road. we put a plug in the drain and now can't smell the sewer when the plug is in, but the water in all the toilet bowls shake, even when nobody is flushing the toilet.  also, when you are in one of the bathrooms upstairs you can hear the flap moving in the pipe going to the roof. I'm very perplexed as to why the toilet bowl water shakes in all three toilets.  If you can give me an answer I will be very gratefull.  Thanks for your time in looking at my problem.

ANSWER: Hello Gayle,

1. The "breather pipe" is the plumbing vent.  It probably had the steel wool in it to keep insects out.  It should not be capped.

2 The smell in the downstairs shower is caused by sewer gas. You probably do not use it much and the drain trap has gone dry from evaporation.  If you pour a little water down the drain once a week, it will be fine.

3.As to why the water in the toilets "shakes", varying air pressure in the house and the plumbing vent system will cause the water to move a bit.

4. I'm not sure what you mean by the "flap" in the pipe going to the roof.  That pipe is a vent most likely and they are usually just an open pipe, no flap that I know of.  Might be some other noise.

If there are air admittance valves(AAV)for the vents, they are just doing the job as intended. These are usually not installed if the vents for each fixture go out to the roof or are connected to a pipe that does.

Air will move inside a plumbing vent system when water is drained. That is the purpose of the vent, to equalize pressure so the lines will actually drain. Try putting your finger over the top of a straw full of water.  The straw will not drain until you let air in. A vacuum is created by the weight of the water pulling on the air.  The same thing happens in the plumbing vent system.  If there were no vents, it would not drain well and the water in the traps under the sinks, tubs and in the toilets would get sucked out, allowing sewer gas to enter the house.

Best,

Dana

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Thanks Dana for your quick reply.  I still have some questions though.  The downstairs shower gets used on a dailey basis,sometimes twice.  I have poured water in it several times.  The water in the three toilet bowls shake violently like we were having an earthquake.  I live in Everett, Washington and although we very occasionaly have an earthquake, the water does this off and on all day long.  Could the breather pipe cause this if it has a wasp or bird nest in it?  I'm still perplexed. Thanks again Dana for taking the time to help me out with this problem.
Agustin
 
Posts: 49
Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:50 am

Toilet Bowl Water Shakes

Postby Gavi » Thu Nov 17, 2016 4:06 am

I have three bathrooms,one downstairs & 2 upstairs in a split level home. We went from a septic system to the city water & sewer a few years ago. I ripped out a wall in the basement looking for a water leak and found the breather pipe had a piece of steel wool in it. I capped it and then uncapped it when someone told me you couldn't do that. the down stairs shower has a smell coming from the drain and sometimes you can hear the traffic on the road(we are on the corner by the road. we put a plug in the drain and now can't smell the sewer when the plug is in, but the water in all the toilet bowls shake, even when nobody is flushing the toilet.  also, when you are in one of the bathrooms upstairs you can hear the flap moving in the pipe going to the roof. I'm very perplexed as to why the toilet bowl water shakes in all three toilets.  If you can give me an answer I will be very gratefull.  Thanks for your time in looking at my problem.

ANSWER: Hello Gayle,

1. The "breather pipe" is the plumbing vent.  It probably had the steel wool in it to keep insects out.  It should not be capped.

2 The smell in the downstairs shower is caused by sewer gas. You probably do not use it much and the drain trap has gone dry from evaporation.  If you pour a little water down the drain once a week, it will be fine.

3.As to why the water in the toilets "shakes", varying air pressure in the house and the plumbing vent system will cause the water to move a bit.

4. I'm not sure what you mean by the "flap" in the pipe going to the roof.  That pipe is a vent most likely and they are usually just an open pipe, no flap that I know of.  Might be some other noise.

If there are air admittance valves(AAV)for the vents, they are just doing the job as intended. These are usually not installed if the vents for each fixture go out to the roof or are connected to a pipe that does.

Air will move inside a plumbing vent system when water is drained. That is the purpose of the vent, to equalize pressure so the lines will actually drain. Try putting your finger over the top of a straw full of water.  The straw will not drain until you let air in. A vacuum is created by the weight of the water pulling on the air.  The same thing happens in the plumbing vent system.  If there were no vents, it would not drain well and the water in the traps under the sinks, tubs and in the toilets would get sucked out, allowing sewer gas to enter the house.

Best,

Dana

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Thanks Dana for your quick reply.  I still have some questions though.  The downstairs shower gets used on a dailey basis,sometimes twice.  I have poured water in it several times.  The water in the three toilet bowls shake violently like we were having an earthquake.  I live in Everett, Washington and although we very occasionaly have an earthquake, the water does this off and on all day long.  Could the breather pipe cause this if it has a wasp or bird nest in it?  I'm still perplexed. Thanks again Dana for taking the time to help me out with this problem.
Gavi
 
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2014 7:20 pm

Toilet Bowl Water Shakes

Postby Montie » Fri Nov 18, 2016 12:41 am

Hi Gayle,

It certainly sounds like you have a venting problem. Movement of the water in the toilets, which are essentially an open trap with the top of the water being exposed in the bowl, the smell from the downstairs shower drain all indicate this. There could indeed be a blocked vent somewhere. Given that you found steel wool in a vent line, it is possible that a vent has sealed over and is not working as it should.

The steel wool thing is an old school trick that has its drawbacks. Namely, the steel wool corrodes and can eventually create a blockage. There really is no valid reason to have it there. The waste and vent system is a closed system and does not allow access to the interior of the house.

I think it might be time to get a QUALIFIED plumber in to diagnose this issue.  Check around with friends or do other research to find one in your area. use a licensed plumbing contractor, not the local handyman.

There are clowns out there that buy equipment, slap up a sign and now they are plumbers!  Not that easy.

The joke goes: "last week I couldn't even spell plummer, now I are one!

Good Luck,

Dana
Montie
 
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:59 am


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