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What to Do if Sewer Gas Invades Your HomeIf you smell a noxious sewer-like odor inside your home, chances are it is sewer gas escaping from the drainage system. Not only does it smell gross, but the methane and bacteria it contains can be dangerous to your health, causing headaches or even more serious ailments. Even scarier, high concentrations of methane gas are combustible, which can cause an explosion. If you notice this distinctive, foul odor, do not ignore it. Possible Causes for the Sewer Smell: sewer back-up leaks from rotted or cracked drain pipes a clogged drain loose-fitting pipe connections a stopped-up or too-short vent pipe toilet's wax ring is old a dry trap Before you call the plumber, however, there are some simple DIY actions that may eliminate the problem quickly at little or no cost. Below, you'll find out how to get rid of the smell of sewer gas emitting from a shower drain due to a dry trap or a mild clog. Plumbing fixtures and their connecting systems that are correctly designed and installed are normally odorless. However, even the best plumbing may sometimes allow sewer gas into your home due to a simple problem that can be easily checked…and simply solved. If the problem persists, then it’s time to call in the professional—a plumber.


If you smell a noxious sewer-like odor inside your home, chances are it is sewer gas escaping from the drainage system. Not only does it smell gross, but the methane and bacteria it contains can be dangerous to your health, causing headaches or even more serious ailments. Even scarier, high concentrations of methane gas are combustible, which can cause an explosion. If you notice this distinctive, foul odor, do not ignore it. Possible Causes for the Sewer Smell: sewer back-up leaks from rotted or cracked drain pipes a clogged drain loose-fitting pipe connections a stopped-up or too-short vent pipe toilet's wax ring is old a dry trap Before you call the plumber, however, there are some simple DIY actions that may eliminate the problem quickly at little or no cost. Below, you'll find out how to get rid of the smell of sewer gas emitting from a shower drain due to a dry trap or a mild clog. Plumbing fixtures and their connecting systems that are correctly designed and installed are normally odorless. However, even the best plumbing may sometimes allow sewer gas into your home due to a simple problem that can be easily checked…and simply solved. If the problem persists, then it’s time to call in the professional—a plumber.


Looking through the reviews on TripAdvisor you would be tempted to think that the boutique hotels in Paris suffered from some kind of horrible sewage problem. How does a review like that happen? Suppose an American couple checks into a boutique hotel in gay Paris. Everything is fine the first day. Then the second day they start to notice an unwelcome sewer-y odor in bathroom. At first they assume it was their own issue (as it were), but the smell doesn’t go away and they figure bad plumbing. And later write a bad TripAdvisor review. There’s a disconnect here: how can a hotel cost $350 a night for a tiny room and then smell like an open sewer on a hot day? It’s because Americans don’t understand bidets (we don't have them). So we don’t usually use them. And that is the root of the problem. Hold on, let me explain. All bathroom fixtures (shower, toilet, sink, bidet) carry wastewater to the sewer via pipes. Sewers are stinky places, and the sewer gasses can come up through the pipes, and into surrounding spaces. Plumbers figured out how to fix this hundreds of years ago with something called the P-trap. A P trap is a U-turn in a pipe—you’ve probably seen them under your kitchen sink. The P-trap—Elegant Solution to an Ancient Problem The P-trap retains just enough water from the last use of the fixture to maintain a watertight seal in the U shape. The gas coming up from the sewer is prevented from entering the room by the water in the P-trap. If the fixture isn’t used for a while, the water in the P-trap will evaporate. If enough water evaporates from the P-trap it won't form the seal necessary. That seal is what keeps the gas from coming up from the sewer, and out into your boutique hotel room. The evaporating water in the P-trap is the culprit! So the fix is easy. Add some water to the bidet once a day to refill the P-trap. The easiest way to do this is to either turn the bidet on for a second, or just use it. A friend of mine says we should all have bidets. “If you got poo on any other part of your body, would you be satisfied just wiping at it with paper?” There you have it, another travel tip from your world-travelling Security Evangelist (and DiY travel blogger). P-Trap diagram used with permission from Planta1 online consulting.


Finding the source of the basement smell If you notice a foul sewer smell in your basement, here are the five possible causes in order of probability: You have a water trap under a floor drain, laundry tub or wash basin that has dried out from lack of use. Water in any trap under unused drains will eventually evaporate. That would allow sewer gas to come up through the drain into the room. Solve that problem just by dumping a pitcherful of water into the drain to restore the trap water. If you follow that up by pouring a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil into the drain, a floating seal of oil will keep the water from evaporating so fast next time. Check for a cleanout plug inside the floor drain. Remove the grate that covers the opening and make sure there's a plug inside the drain bowl. If the plug is missing, there's a direct path for sewer gas to bypass the water trap. Sometimes, the plugs are removed to clean sewer lines and not replaced. Buy a replacement plug at a hardware store. It's less likely, but the water in the toilet trap also could have evaporated. Weeks of disuse could cause this. Of course, simple flushing will restore that water. Another culprit could be a bad wax ring seal between the toilet flange and the base of the toilet. This wax ring can occasionally leak, sometimes because of a rocking toilet that has broken the seal. With a leak in this seal, sewer gas will find its way out from under the toilet. If that's the case, you'll have to remove the toilet and replace the wax ring. If the toilet rocks, use plastic shims between the stool and the floor and caulk the joint. This will ensure that a rocking toilet doesn't ruin the new wax ring. A more serious prospect would be a broken or cracked sewer line or even a loose connection joint in the ceiling or buried in a wall. If you've addressed the four easier possibilities, use your nose to start investigating, starting with all visible joints. If you can't detect the leak, contact a plumber who specializes in hunting down leaks. Back to Top


David 1 year ago Subject: SOLUTION!! Hi all, I had this problem before, and it was a very easy fix. In my house, in the winter time, a smell of sewer gas started to come out of the vents in the house. Whenever I turned the heat on, the whole house smelled like I'd gone #2. My AC unit is in the attic, like many houses. There's a small PVC drain pipe that takes the excess condensation in the summer and dumps it into the sewer. If you ever looked under your sink, you'll notice there's a U shape in the PVC pipe (called a P Trap) . Many people think the purpose of this is to keep you from losing items like jewelry, but the real purpose is to hold water and keep out sewer gas. Without a constant fill of water in this U shape, sewer gas would vent back into your house. The water in the U prevents this. Now back to my attic. The pipe also had a little U to keep the sewer gas smell out of my house. In the winter, when you're not running your AC unit, you're not getting any additional condensation. This U dried out and the sewer gases were coming directly into my AC unit/heater and venting into the house. The solution, there should be a pop off cap in the PVC near this U bend. Simply remove the cap and pour a glass of water in it. This restores the block to the gases. This can happen to shower drains, tub drains, toilets, and sinks. Just pour a glass of water down it. replyto David