Sylvan, Billhart, Ray Van Zint, Erik ‚Äì hi, I‚Äôve used the advanced search mode here and read some older posts but still need some advice from the experts. Here‚Äôs the situation:
My mother-in-law‚Äôs house in Prince Frederick, MD is a 1-story house, at least 30 years old, with 2 bathrooms basically side-by-side at one end of the house. The kitchen and laundry room are at the other end. There‚Äôs one bathroom off the hallway and the other is in the master bedroom. Both have older American Standard toilets (large tanks, not the 1.6-gal tanks). It‚Äôs only her and her dog, with me staying there during the week and very few other overnight guests.
The toilet in her bathroom (master bedroom one) is experiencing intermittent flush problems. The water in the tank is good, and good pressure when refilling. The flapper stays open so the tank can completely empty during the flush. The water enters the bowl and the bowl water swirls & rises to the lower surface of the rim, then takes about 45 seconds to lower to its normal level in the bowl. Last night, a single sheet of paper towel, left in the bowl for about 3 minutes before flushing, took two flushes to exit the bowl. On the first flush, it simply swirled around but never seemed to head towards the exit. As the tank refilled, it sank to the bottom of the bowl and the second flush seemed to create enough vacuum/suction to make it exit the bowl. Plunging didn‚Äôt bring it back up, nor did it bring up anything else.
It happened the first time in mid-Nov. I read here in another thread about how the roof vents could be clogged. The bathrooms apparently share the same roof vent as the only other roof vent is at the opposite end of the house by the kitchen/laundry room area. (No problems with the sink, dishwasher, washing machine at that end of the house.) The vent pipe is 4 inches in diameter and sticks up about 12-18 inches above the roof surface. I didn‚Äôt smell any sewer gas when I first went up on the roof and started snaking the vent line. I encountered a couple ‚Äúblockages‚Äù as I fed the snake into the vent and after 10 minutes or so, I‚Äôd run about 12-15 feet of snake line into the vent pipe. I started smelling sewer gas after the first blockage. When I pulled it all out, the end of the snake was wet and had some sludge on it. I thought I saw small bits of leaves in the sludge. The toilet flushed fine until probably early Jan.
In early Jan, the same problem occurred. I tried plunging the toilet ‚Äì nothing came up. I went up on the roof ‚Äì no sewer smell from the vent. I used the same snake and snaked out the vent line, again managing to get 12-15 feet of line down the vent pipe. Again, I started smelling sewer gas after hitting what felt like a small blockage. Again, the tip of the snake came out wet and with a small amount of sludge on it. The toilet again flushed fine after the snaking.
Yesterday, the same problem occurred. Again, plunging failed to bring anything up. The paper towel I‚Äôd managed to flush didn‚Äôt come back up with the plunging. There was no sewer smell from the roof vent. Again, I snaked the vent line, started getting sewer smell, and ran about 12-15 feet of snake into the vent. This time, the tip was almost completely dry and there was no sludge on the tip. This time, there was no improvement in the flushing.
So - any advice/tips you can offer are appreciated! I've told her we may need a plumber to video the vent line. Before that, I do think I should try to check the vent line in the attic area to see if maybe the vent from her bathroom has a horizontal run in it that I can't get the snake into from up on the roof...who knows what could have gotten in there and blocked things?! Thanks and regards to all! Jim D/West Point, VA (retiring from the military after 32 years of service at the end of June - thanks for your support of my efforts!)
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