Have you ever been in the bathroom and the water in the toilet becomes disturbed when some other plumbing, either in the bathroom or the house, is turned on? The reason for that is there is some kind of a vent problem or a blockage in the drain line.
Some older houses around here have the old drain lines called "orange-burg," which were glorified ceramic sewer tubes from the house to the street. Over time they weaken and get crushed, or a tree root can find its way into a crack and grow in there, clogging it completely. The toilet is the best way to see how the system is draining - look for the rock and roll!
On a recent inspection, I noticed that the front yard had a dip in the grass all the way from the house to the street.
That is a sure sign the drain line has been replaced with a newer PVC plastic line. There are also clean outs visible inside and out.
So I wasn't so concerned about ceramic drain lines.
But something really odd happened.
Going into one of the bathrooms, and closing the door, I noticed that moving the door caused the toilet water to dance in exact rhythm with the door movement!
I confess - I don't remember seeing that before!
That's where the fun begins! Now we have to answer why!
When I went into the attic my question was answered!
Somebody took the bath vent line and HOOKED IT INTO THE COPPER PLUMBING VENT TUBING WHICH BISECTS THE ROOF! And it leaks air! You can see the black staining on the sheathing, so moisture is added to that space and onto the wood.
A couple of things come to mind:
1. It must have been really hard to get back behind that vent tube and cut a hole! There is very little head room there and it can only be done with a saw, maybe even hand held!
2. It would have been soooo much easier to properly cut a hole in the roof and install a vent cap!
The result of this installation? When the door is moved, the air in the bathroom is sucked in and out. The most convenient source of air to bring the air pressure back to homeostasis is the sewage vent tube. There's sewer gas in them there tubes! And for that reason, THE BATHROOM SMELLS! Things just work that way.
I invited the buyers and Realtor into the bathroom to demonstrate my little physics lesson and it got a good laugh. The wife wondered if I had used the bathroom previously and I was the source of that smell!! Well, no!
I am doubting the little plug-in "Spring Bouquet" deodorizer has enough uumph to counteract that sewer gas!
My recommendation: A home inspection has a look at the SYSTEMS of the house and how they all interact. It requires a complete examination, inside, outside, down AND up! Be sure to see it all! Oh, and remember to ROCK 'N ROLL!
P.s. Inspectors are going to write that the insulation is "backwards" and I didn't mention it. Patience, my friends - wait 'til you see the next picture!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560