Plumbing Problem: Sewage smell

A blocked drainage system can cause unpleasant odors. Though, the situation is occasionally broader and far more severe than that. Anyway, think about acting immediately if you encounter a sewer smell in a bathroom or in any other place. All the causes vary from a dry and nonfunctional P-trap to a damaged ventilation. In case one, the solution is obvious and quite simple – just guttering some water into the pipe by opening the faucet. Case two demands thorough attention of an expert.

Make an attempt to detect the source of musty odors, reminding of a sewage smell in your house, by following this guide. Here are some useful tips on troubleshooting the issue. Let us remind you, however, that there exist some cases when you will not be able to do anything for repairs on your own. Only the qualified work of an expert can improve the situation.

A situation with your floor drains sometimes turns out rather unpredictable and you start asking questions like ‘Why does my floor drain smell like sewage?’ Everything is quite simple to explain. This drain is usually built in the floor for trapping the excess water and utilizing it to seal up the drainage system. Due to it, a sewer gas is blocked from penetration into the house. Nevertheless, this drain is normally utilized rather rarely so it dries up over some time. Therefore, the harmful gas is allowed into the space and stinks it over. The way out is very simple – just pour water down the drain. It will help reseal the pipe and the awful sewage smell will get away. Opt for adding some fresh-scent cleaner used in the household to make the odor more pleasant.

You may also wonder why your basement smells like sewage after rain. It happens because a sewer gas is released and penetrates the house. Sewer gas is a substance produced by all the waste products drained down the pipe. This gas can be toxic or non-toxic depending on the products that cause its appearance. The mixture of sewer gases can contain such hazardous elements as ammonia, sulfur dioxide, or hydrogen sulfide that are very harmful for health. When the smell like that appears with the rainstorm, you may experience severe plumbing issues. We have also considered some other problems that can lead to the sewer gas release in this article.

Other Issues:

Poor Sewer Lines. They may be damaged badly. It means that you are about to face the leak soon or you are already having this leak without being aware of that. The waste water just flows uncontrolled into the soil laying its way to the sump pit and causing sewage smell.

Wrong Ways of Utilizing Ejectors & Pumps. The other reason why the sewer gas may appear is an issue concerning your ejector pit. It is usually present in basements equipped with the overhead sewer lines. This ejector pit should be covered properly, vented, and cleaned regularly so that it can hold the waste water without any unpleasant outcomes. If something goes wrong with ventilation, sealing, or the lid is just missing, sewer gases are ready to spread over your basement and farther into your house.

The most smelly place in your home, of course, is not a toilet. A sewage smell usually comes from the bathroom when it is equipped with a shower. It means that something is wrong with the shower drain.

The nasty odor from the bathroom and shower tub can be caused by two different factors. You may just get the biofilm collected in the pipes or something has happened to the P-trap.

Biofilm is built up when the drain is clogged. It starts moving water very slowly and creates perfect conditions for all the decomposing debris stuck in the pipes to be mixed with bacteria. This solid build-up can get clung to the walls of pipes and cause all the further issues. So, if you have noticed that your shower drain is too slow, the first step on your part is to unclog it. And, of course, taking measures for bacteria killing is mandatory. You may opt for manual cleaning or using some drain chemicals, or even for both.

The most severe issues can be caused by hair that builds up in the shower pipes. A lot of hair can easily trap other debris and the favorable environment for bacteria thriving is created. That is why, after you have managed to get rid of hair clogs in the shower drain, clear the pipes out from bacteria. You can use the same method as for eliminating the mold. Just use hot water, baking soda, and vinegar.

However, you need to know what material your drain pipes are made of. If it is standard PVC, you can cause some damage with the boiling water. You may also know nothing about the material used in the pipes. So, in both cases, or if you are not sure about the quality of your pipes, do not use the water that is hotter than 150 degrees F. Take about a full bowl of hot water and pour it down the pipe. You need to do it very slowly to make the procedure more effective.

Before calling experts in this case, you may try a quick-fix method. Just pour some water in the P-trap. Though, if you can see that the water does not help or, probably, your system does not have a P-trap at all, think about the consultation with professionals to research, diagnose, and fix the issue before it causes some more severe consequences.

Musty smells caused by a sewer gas can be a result of the P-trap drying out. 

Most drainage systems in households include P-traps. This pipe has a U-shape and is meant for holding wastewater water. The water works as a seal against sewer gases and smells.

The water evaporates from the P-trap when the shower is utilized rarely. Then, the gas and smell are free to penetrate the house. However, if you often use your shower but the drain starts smelling badly, it may become a sign of a more complicated issue.

The issue may also originate in your P-trap. For instance, it can be damaged and unable to hold the sealing water.

Sometimes, people give preference to repairing some minor issues in their home plumbing system on their own. Or they may not feel comfortable about such work and do not consider themselves DIY experts. It means that it is high time to call professional services and if it is the case about you, just regain your peace of mind when all the issues are solved efficiently.

Additionally, it sometimes happens that the issue in your house cannot be solved by just DIY even if you feel like doing it. For example, if you face a sewer back-up, it is unlikely that you will be able to cope with it on your own.

Decide whether to call a plumber or not. However, if you encounter the overflowing drain, it is the straightforward sign of the backup. Or if your toilet or shower suddenly starts producing gurgling sounds accompanied by awful smells, mind that you are likely to deal with an emergency so call the plumbing service immediately.

Be very attentive when some natural or weather conditions are involved, for example, rainstorms, seasonal floods, or just tree roots that damage pipes. All of them can become a cause of sewage backup. Let us consider just some most widely encountered issues resulting in or related to sewer back-ups.

  • Damage caused by flooding. The abrupt flow of flooding water can redirect the sewage back through the pipes into your house.
  • Invasion by plants’ roots. Shrubs or trees with deep roots in your backyard are dangerous for your plumbing system. When there is a drought in your area, you need to be especially attentive because in search of water, the trees tend to send their roots still deeper in the ground reaching sewer lines. The roots can cause cracks in pipes or block the main lines completely. As a result, the sewage is backed up and you face a disaster in your home.
  • Severe blocking of sanitary mains. The sanitary main of your city can suffer from different types of debris as well. When all the debris is accumulated in one place, the main is blocked up and over time, the sewage water starts seeping and then flooding back into your home.
  • Ruined or damaged sewer lines. If the neighborhood and house you live in are rather old, the sewer lines around are worn out. If nothing has been done about them for a long time, they start cracking, breaking, and even collapsing causing a lot of severe sewer problems to the nearby households.

If you have faced any situation described above, do not hesitate to call an emergency plumber wherever you may live and whatever minor the problem you encountered may seem. Only a professional can examine the situation properly, assess its severity, and decide where the issue is coming from. No matter whether it is caused by the main sewage system’s bad order, or tree roots, or any other factors, the problem should be solved instantly and professionally to avoid still more severe outcomes.