Why does my toilet backup with soap and water and what can we do?
January 4, 2009 6:59 AM Subscribe
My toilet is constantly backing up with soap and water to the point where it overflows and floods my condo! What is the problem? What are my legal options?
posted by DorothySmith to home & garden (16 answers total)
My partner and I bought a condo in June and soon noticed that the toilet backs up with soap and water. It first makes a loud gurgling noise and creates large bubbles. After the gurgling ends, the toilet bowl (and kitchen sink occasionally) will fill up with soap. In October the bowl overflowed all over the bathroom floor. We told the super who did nothing and told us there was nothing that could be done. Then in November I came home one evening to a bathroom, hallway and several feet into each bedroom of foam and water up to my knees. It destroyed our floors (laminate), doors, trim and bathroom vanity.
Since October we've had the toilet back up 7 times and only once I threatened with a lawyer did the building manager send a plumber to my place. They put a camera down the toilet and flushed the drain finding nothing. The building manager has said it's not a plumbing problem and that there's nothing to do. He's dead set it's a bubble bath problem... rather than a serious plumbing problem.
The condo building (10 floors and I'm on the first floor) is almost 40 years old, but was renovated in the last few years allowing every unit a front loading washing machine and dishwasher. I think it is likely a hydraulics problem (the pipes are too small for the increased water traffic) or a ventilation problem. Since the pipes aren't mine and are the building's I'm not allowed to hire a plumber.
I also found out that the man who lives across the hall (and almost everyone else on the first floor) has this same problem... their backups haven't ruined their floor though. The man across the hall reported it over a year ago, before we bought. The other condo owners who it happens to aren't willing to support me because it hasn't inconvenienced them yet (or destroyed their home). The man across the hall has recently moved into a nursing home, but his grandson said that they would search for a record of when the plumber came for them last year. Their kitchen sink backups haven't been fixed either and it's the same as mine (soap and water).
I want to know what my problem is... and any advice to solve it. Neither the building manager or condo board will help me even though we've been living on concrete flooring afraid to put in a new floor since it's happened as recently as Christmas Eve morning.
Is it possible to force them to buyback our unit since we can easily prove it was a problem before we moved in? (ie. full disclosure)
Is it possible to legally force them to fix the problem? My mother's heard of a similar problem in another apartment building and they had to rip out the floors and walls and replace the plumbing b/c it was a hydraulics problem.
Should I be suing for my condo fees back since we've been living with flooding since October?
With the market slump, and 18 other units for sale in the building... selling it isn't really an option unless we take a huge financial loss (not to mention we'd have to disclose there's a plumbing problem and explain why there's no flooring!).
I've called all the city and province (I'm in Ontario, Canada) and none of the health agencies will help me b/c I own rather than rent.