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Tim Cooke
Tim Cooke,
Category: Plumbing
Satisfied Customers: 1305
Experience:  Owner at Self-employed
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Hope you're well. Just wondering if you might be able to

Customer Question

HiHope you're well.Just wondering if you might be able to help.We regularly have a bad smell in our house - mainly in the kitchen area. I've checked everywhere and can't find any leaks.We have a downstairs toilet with a shower. The shower regularly gurgles and spits up water whenever you run the tap or flush the toilet. Our downstairs bathroom tap doesn't have a plug - it broke ages ago.I noticed that our main outside soil pipe has a cracked open and has a large hole - could that be the problem?We also have a downpipe - It goes straight into the ground, not sure if its connected to any pipes. It regularly floods and water doesn't soak away when there is heavy rainfall.Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Submitted: 20 days ago.
Category: Plumbing
Expert:  Tim Cooke replied 19 days ago.

Good morning, and welcome to the Technical section in JustAnswer. My name is ***** ***** I will help you today. There's no time pressure on this topic - it will stay open for many days, and you can reply at any time. I will be away from my desk sometimes, but will respond as soon as I can.

You have a cast iron soil & vent pipe, and it seems that the vent/dry section of the pipe has fractured. This isn't a problem per se, but it shouldn't be left like that because the foul air should be vented above the gutter height. If any piece of the pipe has dropped down inside and reached ground level, or lower, then I would expect it to cause a problem in terms of the soil pipe blocking.

I'm not suggesting that you've been neglectful, but judging from your photo and your description the waste system hasn't had much maintenance for a long time.

Regarding the smell and gurgling, until all blockage are removed you will continue to get problems of one kind of another, so I would start at the nearest inspection chamber and checking that water runs freely to it and through it. You might even find a blockage in there. I would survey the section to the inspection chamber to see if there are any fragments of cast iron pipe in there.

I would consider cutting out and removing the cast iron soil pipe just above ground level, and replacing it with a PVC stack. When this is out I would survey between the any soil branch for toilets can be investigate and cleared. Once that it all reinstated and known to be good, I would then cleaning any upstream blockage, like the kitchen sink waste, shower waste, etc.

Expert:  Tim Cooke replied 19 days ago.

I should also point out that the fragment of cast iron, that seems to be wedged just below gutter height, is dangerous as it could easily kill someone if it fell on them.

Customer: replied 19 days ago.
Hey thanks for this, there isn’t much danger of this ad there is a flat roof directly below this
Customer: replied 19 days ago.
Would a drain company be good to clear this? Would the replace a drain like this?
Expert:  Tim Cooke replied 19 days ago.

No. Drain clearance companies are specialist in clearing and surveying underground drains. Underground lining, replacing, and repairing is undertaken by different contractors. Above ground works are undertaken by regular plumbers.

I see a single-storey extension enclosing the lower part of the S&V (soil & vent) stack. Is the stack visible within the extension, or is it concealed?

If you ignore the fractured pipe for now, a plumber is still your best bet for sorting out the various problems. Do you have an inspection chamber near this S&V stack, or has it been covered by the building?

Customer: replied 19 days ago.
Yeah it’s concealed in the kitchen. I don’t think we have an inspection chamber?
Expert:  Tim Cooke replied 19 days ago.

If you can look outside the neighbouring houses, see if you can spot an inspection chamber cover (aka "manhole cover") elsewhere - they tend to be placed in a straight line that runs in front or behind the line of houses. If you see that each neighbour to the left and right has one, and you don't, and the line runs under your extension, then there's a chamber under there. You might be able to get your problem solved without accessing that, but you might not. It needs a site visit to examine this further.

​Whereabouts in the UK are you?

Customer: replied 19 days ago.
I have drain covers in the drive way
Customer: replied 19 days ago.
Glasgow
Expert:  Tim Cooke replied 19 days ago.

Is the driveway on the same side of the house as the cast iron S&V stack?

Customer: replied 19 days ago.
No they r at the side, the stack is at the back
Expert:  Tim Cooke replied 19 days ago.

OK. If in visualise a straight line running from the bottom of the cast iron stack to the inspection chamber cover, does that line pass under the house at all?

Customer: replied 19 days ago.
Yeah I think so, I’ve taken a pic
Customer: replied 19 days ago.
Circle is the pipe, arrow where the inspecting chamber is
Customer: replied 19 days ago.
Pic
Customer: replied 19 days ago.
Inside one of the chambers
Expert:  Tim Cooke replied 19 days ago.

That looks like a rainwater gully, not a foul drain inspection chamber.

See this image on this web page.

Customer: replied 19 days ago.
Yeah this is all we have
Customer: replied 19 days ago.
I had drain guys come before lockdown and they flush it all out using these
Expert:  Tim Cooke replied 19 days ago.

I don't know what they flushed out, but those are not foul drain chamber covers.

Customer: replied 19 days ago.
Yeah mmm I don’t have a foul drain inspection chamber then
Expert:  Tim Cooke replied 19 days ago.

How close to the S&V stack is the kitchen? And how close is the shower?

Do you know the route of the shower waste to the underground drain?

Customer: replied 18 days ago.
The pipe goes down into the kitchen - concealed. I think the shower may connect to it under the house
Customer: replied 18 days ago.
By concealed I mean boxed in
Expert:  Tim Cooke replied 18 days ago.

I deduce that the kitchen is in the single-story extension - is that right?

How far is it from the shower waste to the boxed-in soil stack?

Customer: replied 18 days ago.
Yeah that is correct about the kitchen. My guess would be about 10 feet
Customer: replied 18 days ago.
The area we notice the smell the most is the cupboard that houses the boiler - had lots of issues with sludge building up in the boiler before so wondering if that cause the smell but that wouldn’t cause the gurgling
Expert:  Tim Cooke replied 18 days ago.

It's likely that the boiler is a condensing boiler - please tell me if not. If it is then there should be a 21.5mm plastic pipe taking condensite from it and leading to the household waste system. Sometimes, installers put the pipe into the open end of a 32mm standpipe, with no water seal, which would allow sewer smells to emerge from the 32mm pipe. If you attach a photo of the pipework under the boiler I can see what the situation is there.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Pic 1
Customer: replied 17 days ago.
2
Customer: replied 17 days ago.
3
Expert:  Tim Cooke replied 17 days ago.

Can you take a photo of the pipework from further away? As long as the area is well-lit I can always zoom in to see more detail, but I need to see much more of the pipework.

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
The only other thing I can think to say is the smells seems worse when it’s raining
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
Pipes
Expert:  Tim Cooke replied 16 days ago.

I was hoping to see how the condensate pipe connects to the waste system. Are you able to trace that pipe and find the connection?

There is some logic in the smell being worse when it rains. For example, if the rainwater goes into the foul sewer, which is common but not always the case, then water going in will usually result in foul air coming out. It ought to come out of the vent - the one above your gutter level. However if there’s an easier route for it to take, then you get smells elsewhere.

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
Ok so if that’s the cause what’s the solution? I have drain company coming on Thursday morning with cctv
Expert:  Tim Cooke replied 15 days ago.

If the condensate pipe is wrongly installed then the solution is to install it correctly. I know that's glib, but the solution depends on what the problem is.