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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Rainmaker
238,777
Brad Rachielles
CENTURY 21 Prestige Properties, Ca BRE# 01489453 - Upland, CA
REALTOR, CDPE, Upland, CA

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.

Oct 12, 2012 09:03 AM #19
Rainmaker
1,254,266
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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!

Oct 12, 2012 09:13 AM #20
Rainmaker
1,254,266
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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!

Oct 12, 2012 09:16 AM #21
Rainmaker
1,254,266
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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?

Oct 12, 2012 09:18 AM #22
Rainmaker
436,065
Kevin Mackessy
Blue Olive Properties, LLC - Highlands Ranch, CO
Dedicated. Qualified. Local.

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

Oct 12, 2012 11:44 AM #23
Rainer
405,885
Randy Ostrander
Lake and Lodge Realty LLC - Big Rapids, MI
Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI

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).

Oct 12, 2012 01:06 PM #24
Rainmaker
1,254,266
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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!

Oct 12, 2012 02:59 PM #25
Rainer
277,285
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA
- Pierce, King, Kitsap, Thurston, Mason Counties

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.

Oct 12, 2012 04:07 PM #26
Rainmaker
1,254,266
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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

Oct 12, 2012 04:10 PM #27
Rainer
27,680
Philippe Heller
The Real Estate Inspection Co. - San Diego, CA
Exceptional inspections, Guaranteed!

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

Oct 12, 2012 05:18 PM #28
Ambassador
1,313,020
William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE
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.
Oct 12, 2012 09:44 PM #29
Rainmaker
1,254,266
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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!

Oct 13, 2012 03:52 AM #30
Rainmaker
75,017
Chicago Real Estate
Goran Utvic | Chicagoland Brokers Inc, Chicago IL 60656 - Chicago, IL
Goran Utvic

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

Oct 13, 2012 04:58 AM #31
Rainmaker
1,254,266
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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

Oct 13, 2012 05:15 AM #32
Rainer
170,149
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-342-4767- Inspector & Energy Auditor

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

Oct 13, 2012 05:43 PM #33
Rainmaker
1,254,266
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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!

Oct 14, 2012 03:55 AM #34
Rainer
148,486
Robert Sole
REM Inspections LLC - Winter Springs, FL

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

Oct 14, 2012 09:13 AM #35
Rainmaker
1,254,266
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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

Oct 14, 2012 12:08 PM #36
Rainer
232,428
Mike Yeo
3:16 team REALTY - Frisco, TX

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.

Nov 08, 2012 07:30 AM #37
Rainmaker
1,254,266
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

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

Nov 08, 2012 08:16 AM #38
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Rainmaker
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