Volume In, Volume Out - The Old VIVO Drain

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Volume in, volume out - the old VIVO drain.

When you flush a toilet, physics takes over.  There is a special trap arrangement in the toilet structure, which has water at the bottom of the bowl, and when a flush happens the water volume (weight) flowing down causes to push upward and then downward again, FLUSHING the contents in the bowl into the drain.  The flow of water works with itself, dynamically causing the volume (weight) entered to exit, leaving the same amount of water in the bottom of the bowl.

A sink or bath tub drain works much the same way.

Water always resides in the bottom of the trap.

This water essentially plugs the drain also, so sewer gases do not enter the home.

Volume in, volume out - the old VIVO drain.

Sometimes a trap that is unused for a time will evaporate the water out leaving the way for gases to come into the home.

One of the first things I do when I enter a house for an inspection is turn on the dishwasher.  I examine it to see if it's buried behind ceramic tile or hardwood flooring, and if it's attached to the cabinet or counter top, and turn it on.

Such was the case with a recent inspection of a flipped house.

I turned on the dishwasher and let it go.

Returning later to the kitchen I noticed that as the dishwasher drained the left sink filled up with water.

The dishwasher drains into the disposal, which is under the right sink, so this filling of the left sink shouldn't happen.

I had not looked under the sink yet.  It was time to look!

What I saw was a very deep trap.

A trap should only be 4" deep or so, like in the diagram above.

When it's deep, and especially when two sinks combine, the arrangement holds a lot of water.

A proper trap might only hold a couple of cups of water.

This trap is holding a lot more, as shown, more or less, by the blue I painted in!

And so, here, as the disposal fills with water trying to drain, unless there is enough volume (weight) of water above to force the lowest water below up and out, things will drain slowly.

I turned on the faucet to demonstrate and take a photo.  It filled higher than that.

So, the VIVO principle is alive and well!

Want a natural tip for cleaning clogged drains (in a proper P-trap that is)?  Mix together very well 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup salt and 1/4 cup cream of tartar (I know, you don't have any).  Pour 1/4 cup of the dry mixture into the clogged drain.  Follow that with 2 cups of boiling water.  Let it sit for 1 hour.  Flush the drain with a lot of water weight.  How?  Fill the sink or tub with water and remove the drain plug.  The formula breaks up the mess and the water volume (weight) will wash it down.  If one application doesn't work, try another. 

Baking soda and white vinegar works on some lesser clogs.  Pour down 1 cup of each.  But be sure to cover the drain and over-flow hole with a wash cloth to contain the chemical reaction.  Letting it sit a while will break up the fats and such and then do the water volume (weight) flush.

My recommendation:  run some water into a drain and watch it drain.  Listen too.  It should go down easily and there should be no glub-glub when it finishes.  Glub-glub is a technical word.  Look it up.  If things don't go well, look underneath!  See what surprises are in store!  When Flipper is involved, well, you might just be in for a treat.

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Comments 38 New Comment

Show All Comments
Rainmaker
228,937
Brad Rachielles
REALTOR, CDPE, Upland, CA
CENTURY 21 Prestige Properties, Ca BRE# 01489453

Your glub-glub should not be confused with a Swedish Yuletide fermentation that is known as Glug and the consumption of which may make a "glug"-ing sound if consumed by the less courtious, thereby creating the Glug glug. Your chemical concoctions, while appropriate for curing the glub-glubs, should not be applied as remedies for the ensuing problems sometimes seen with the Glug glugs. I don't believe that the Glug glugs have ever indicated a stoppage of any kind. There are may be other reactions to the Glug glug, which will not be addressed at this time.

October 12, 2012 09:03 AM
Rainmaker
1,216,483
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Debbie - I wonder how many people will be mixing stuff up tonight to try it!  And go flush the other toilets...

I'm glad you do Gita.  Stop by anytime!

David - be sure to close the closet doors!  That's where all that stuff hides.

Jim - do it next to an S-trap and have a drinking buddy!

October 12, 2012 09:13 AM
Rainmaker
1,216,483
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Joshua - be sure to call the Hazmat boys at the same time as the plumber!  I wonder how many people will be going to go to the hardware store tonight to ask for Cream of Tartar.

Mike - vinegar and baking soda works, if you let it pressurize and work.  This one will too.  For most stuff anyway.

Fred - had one yesterday without a trap!  The opposite extreme!

Just a tad Clint!  At least it's angled downward!

October 12, 2012 09:16 AM
Rainmaker
1,216,483
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Tom - if that makes you hungry you have a lean, lean diet!

Richie - how many of us have seen that volcano in science class?

Gary - and if it doesn't eliminate the clog, at least things smell better!

Brad - those Swedes are an interesting bunch!  By "other" things, you mean what goes in as a glug comes out as a blat?

October 12, 2012 09:18 AM
Rainmaker
385,575
Kevin Mackessy
Dedicated. Qualified. Local.
Blue Olive Properties, LLC

Great tip for unclogging a drain.  I've stored a wealth of DIY knowledge just stopping by here time to time.  

October 12, 2012 11:44 AM
Rainer
405,885
Randy Ostrander
Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI
Lake and Lodge Realty LLC

Good morning Jay. SOmetimes common sense should be used when designing plumbing. lol. You did offer a unclogger I had not heard of. Off to the market for cream of tarter (just in case).

October 12, 2012 01:06 PM
Rainmaker
1,216,483
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Good for you Kevin!  As have I!

Randy - this guy is no plumber and trying the best he can with his limited knowledge.  This is why you leave what you don't know to somebody who does!

October 12, 2012 02:59 PM
Rainer
277,079
Steven Cook
- Pierce, King, Kitsap, Thurston, Mason Counties
No Longer Processing Mortgages.

Jay -- thanks for the tips on unclogging drains a bit less caustically.   BTW, since I like lemon meringue pie, we always have Cream of Tartar on hand.

October 12, 2012 04:07 PM
Rainmaker
1,216,483
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Yepper Steven, that's what C of T is for! 

October 12, 2012 04:10 PM
Rainer
27,455
Philippe Heller
The Real Estate Inspection Co.

There is another reason for the water rising into the basin. The disposer drain was not installed properly.

Waste is ejected from the disposer when it is on with a lot of force compared to simply draining from a sink. Because the disposer is connected with a T fitting above the P-trap, the ejected water passes right through the T without draining down towards the P-trap. The P-trap may not be clogged. 

A proper installation would have the disposer draining straight down into the P-trap, or via a Y-fitting which would direct the waste downwards.

We also see the following installation very often which is also incorrect.

 

Improper Disposer Drain

October 12, 2012 05:18 PM
Ambassador
1,264,928
William Johnson
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE
RE/MAX Associates
Hi Jay, Understanding the dynamics of water and gravity, I am surprised that this whole under the sink mess hasn't been redesigned. There is more damage in homes from plumbing issues than almost everything else combined. Where are the engineers when we need them most. LOL. I think this post is most informative and appreciate your posting it.
October 12, 2012 09:44 PM
Rainmaker
1,216,483
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Phillippe - I actually demonstrated that!  We ran the dishwasher again, and I turned on the disposal and faucet at the same time the dishwasher was emptying.  It was fun to watch the quick build up of water!  And I often see that arrangement in the diagram, with a post once before.

William - this is the redesign!  Nobody has lived there yet to experience this wonder.  That's why the home inspection was so important!

October 13, 2012 03:52 AM
Rainmaker
72,378
Chicago Real Estate
Goran Utvic
Goran Utvic | Chicagoland Brokers Inc, Chicago IL 60656

excellent explanation Jay...just because the home was rehabbed doesn't mean that they did it right

October 13, 2012 04:58 AM
Rainmaker
1,216,483
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

True words Goran.  Which is why home inspections on remodels are so crucial.

October 13, 2012 05:15 AM
Rainer
162,950
Rob Ernst
Reno, NV-775-342-4767- Inspector & Energy Auditor
Certified Structure Inspector

Good post. Sometimes I see drains and wonder how they even drain at all.

October 13, 2012 05:43 PM
Rainmaker
1,216,483
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

On an inspection you can demonstrate that Rob.  Stand beside the drain in question and drink something, like Jim above, and see if your glub matches the glub in the drain!

October 14, 2012 03:55 AM
Rainer
141,207
Robert Sole
REM Inspections LLC

It is amazing how creative people  can be sometimes.  Good post.

October 14, 2012 09:13 AM
Rainmaker
1,216,483
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Robert - that's one creative drain, to be sure!  And thanks!

October 14, 2012 12:08 PM
Rainer
232,378
Mike Yeo
3:16 team REALTY

Jay - I have always trying to find the right way to maintain the pipe. Since the kitchen sink is the most used in the house and we put more stuff in there like food particles than any other sink, it is wise to do some preventative maintaince. Glad you put out that mixture. I will sure to try it but got get some cream of tartar.

November 08, 2012 07:30 AM
Rainmaker
1,216,483
Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

People don't believe little formulas like this Mike, but they work!

November 08, 2012 08:16 AM
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
1,216,483

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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