When it comes to plumbing, nothing beats a professional

March 26, 2014 

Q: My brother renovated my second-floor bathroom, which included a new tub, faucets, shower, and a diverter. Now, every time I do a load of wash, when the first-floor washer is filling up, a lot of water comes out of my shower faucet.

A: I am assuming your brother is not a professional plumber, just a nice guy who was trying to help his sibling But you may well need a plumber to unravel this mess.

I am not a plumber. Still, I’ve talked to enough of them over the years to have a couple ideas you should have followed up on, at least.

If water were coming up through the shower drain as the washer drained, the cause might be a partial clog in the house’s main drain. Wastewater, in this case, would be getting forced back into the shower area by the blockage.

Your problem is not wastewater backup, but some sort of crossed supply-line connection that carries water to both shower and washer, instead of one at a time.

Have your brother check the supply-line connections first. Then call a plumber.

Q: Our bathroom sink has a sewerlike odor coming out of it. The only things that go down the drain are soap, water, shaving cream, beard from shaving, toothpaste, and a small amount of hair.

I removed the drain pipe, and there is a black, slimy, gelatinous substance coating the inside of the pipe. It wasn’t enough to clog the pipe, but that is the substance that’s smelling.

What is the black stuff, and how do we get rid of it and the smell?

A: That odor is from exactly what you have been sending down the sink, adhered to the trap by the grease created by soap and skin oil.

It happens to everyone, and to every sink. Some people pour a mixture of baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice into the drain to clear that decomposing mess from the inside of the pipe and make it smell fresh.

You might want to periodically clear the hair and soap that sticks to it out of the drain to reduce the opportunity for goo to build up.

Contact the writer: aheavens@phillynews.com or at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia PA 19101.

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