Wondering why your house smells like sewage?
If your house smells like sewage, gas is most likely escaping from the drain system. Sometimes these odors are from improper installation, broken seals, or a direct result of sewer gas flowing into a home, in which case immediate action is required to protect your family from potential danger.
Sewer gas – which is essentially methane – can induce dizziness, vomiting, headaches, loss of consciousness, and suffocation. It can even become a fire or explosion hazard when enough of it accumulates in one space. Although less dangerous, there are other reasons for sewer-like smells that are just as unpleasant to deal with in your home, too.
Below we dive deeper into the reasons why homes may smell like sewage and what homeowners can do to solve them.
A P-trap is a pipe design that connects the drains of fixtures like sinks, toilets, and tubs to your home’s main drain line, and thus the city’s sewer or your septic system.
When working properly, P-traps contain a small amount of water that keeps sewer gas from rising up through your drain and out of your fixtures. Blocked by this water, gas is vented upwards and out through vents located on your roof. When a P-trap is dry, however, there’s nothing separating the inside of your home from sewer gas, which means it can enter your home instead of being properly vented.
P-traps can dry out if the fixtures they’re attached to aren’t used often. In this case, running the tap for a few minutes could restore its function. They can also dry out if there’s a leak caused by ill-fitted or corroded piping, in which case you should call a plumber for repiping or drain replacement services.
Broken Toilet Wax Ring
A toilet’s connection to the drain in your home is sealed with a wax ring. This prevents outgoing sewage from your toilet from leaking out and keeps sewer gas from rising up through the drain.
When a wax ring is broken, waste that went into a toilet can leak around the base of the fixture. Bacteria like this and will grow in this environment, creating foul and sometimes sewer-like odors.
Whether the odor is from actual sewer gas or bacteria around the base of your toilet, though, the underlying problem is often a broken wax seal, which a plumber should help you replace. By making this repair and cleaning up the general area, you can say adios to foul odors.
Vent Pipe Problems
If sewer smells seem like they’re coming from within your walls, your home’s vent pipes could be to blame. Your home’s plumbing system relies on gravity and air pressure, and vent pipes help to regulate the latter. They also vent sewer gas up toward your roof, but any cracks or loose fittings along the way will cause this gas to leak into your home. Fortunately, you can rely on a plumber to help you fix loose seals and replace broken or corroded pipes!
Buildup within Drains
Another common cause of sewer-like smells is a buildup in drains. Sometimes things like food waste, soap scum, hair, dirt, and other things that normally go down the drain hang out in there. Not only does this slow or stop a drain, but it provides a good environment for bacteria to thrive. As these bacteria grow and reproduce, they create foul odors.
Fortunately, getting rid of these smells can be as simple as cleaning your drain. Don’t reach for chemical drain cleaners, though! These often don’t address the root cause of a drain clog and can damage your pipes, leading to worse problems. If plunging hasn’t helped, call a plumber out to snake or hydro-jet your drain to clean it out.
Does the Water Itself Seem to Stink?
When it seems like foul odors are coming from the water coming out of your taps, two things could be to blame.
The first is bacteria growth in your water heater, which can happen if a water heater isn’t working properly. Too low of a temperature in a water heater or too much downtime can create a hospitable environment for bacteria, which create a strong smell like that of rotten eggs. All you may need to do is turn up the heat on your water heater, but it may also need to be repaired by a plumber.
The second reason water can have an odor is if it’s contaminated by hydrogen sulfide, which usually occurs at the water’s source. In large amounts, hydrogen sulfide can be toxic to humans, but you’d probably detect it well before it became that dangerous. If you suspect the water coming out of your taps is contaminated with hydrogen sulfide, get it tested by your local water lab.
Sometimes this problem can be addressed by installing water purifiers and filters, but only if the problem is relatively minor. Unfortunately, if hydrogen sulfide contamination is originating from highly corroded pipes in your home, you will likely need a plumber to perform a whole-house replacement of your plumbing system to address the underlying problem.
Do You Need a Plumber to Get Rid of Bad Smells?
Foul odors in your home can originate with your plumbing system in a whole variety of ways. If you’re trying to find out where a sewage smell is coming from within your home, you can count on 911 Sewer Specialists to help you locate and fix the problem.