I live in a multi-unit condo on the first floor. There is one common sewage pipe that connects all of our toilets.

One night, my toilet (only one) won't flush. A little bit of water began to seep out of the base. Water starting to back up as in my bathtub as well.

I asked my neighbor and she said he was having problems flushing the toilet as well.

So I called the plumber. He came and proceeded to the outlet where he could ran a snake through the pipes. But after he opened the cap, the stoppage cleared and we could flush our toilets! He didn't do anything! He just opened up the cap!

What could cause this temporary stoppage? Air back pressure? But shouldn't the air outlets on top of the roof handle that?

Thank you in advance for any insight.


These stoppages have been occurring on and off for several years. What can the HOA do besides running a snake and jetting the pipes to prevent these sudden stoppages?

  • Even if all the vents were plugged with bird nests it's unlikely that 3 or 4" pipes would completely stop flowing. Something was causing a blockage, and it may have dislodged at that time by coincidence. – isherwood May 19 '17 at 2:08
  • @isherwood Ah great. And now the HOA is billing me for the plumber because they believe the problem was interior. – Concerned_Citizen May 19 '17 at 2:19
  • 2
    The fact that several residences experienced the problem would seem to disprove that. Good luck. – isherwood May 19 '17 at 2:22
  • @Dombey next time have the plumber run a camera down the whole thing including into the common pipe. Possibility is you have a tree root growing into the common pipe, his snaking forced things free, opening the cap ,well did he pull anything out or did that allow him to snake further? Is he the Condos plumber - find a different one. – Ken May 19 '17 at 16:42

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