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ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
PLUMBING SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
ANODES & DIP TUBES on WATER HEATERS
BACKUP PREVENTION, SEPTIC
BACKUP PREVENTION, SEWER LINE
BACKWATER VALVES, SEWER LINE
CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS in WATER
CHEMICAL ODOR SOURCES
CHLORINE IN DRINKING WATER
DEPTH of SEPTIC TANK
DRAIN & SEWER PIPING
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOOR DRAIN / TRAP ODORS
GAS PIPING, VALVES, CONTROLS
HARD WATER - SOFTENERS
METHANE GAS SOURCES
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS IN WATER
ODORS, SEPTIC or SEWER
ODORS SEWER GAS in COLD WEATHER
ODORS, SULPHUR SMELL SOURCES
ANIMAL or URINE ODOR SOURCE DETECTION
PIPING IN BUILDINGS, Clogs Leaks Types
PLUMBING FIXTURES, KITCHEN, BATH
PLUMBING NOISE CONTROL
PLUMBING VENT DEFINITIONS & CODES
PLUMBING VENT DEFECTS & NOISES
REPAIR BURST LEAKY PIPES
METHANE GAS HAZARDS
SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Here we provide descriptions of sewage smell sources and list of links to details about steps to take in curing methane gas, sewer gas, or septic gas smells that are traced to these building plumbing or to an onsite septic or cesspool or drywell system.
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Also see our broad-scope article on diagnosis and cure of sewer gas and septic odors: Sewer Gas Odors diagnosing, finding, and curing septic tank and sewer line smells.
If a building drain is damaged and leaking the point of damage needs to be found and repaired. If it's an indoor drain the leak can usually be found by evidence of leaks into the building; if it's an outdoor drain leak, use of a plumbing snake, judicious careful probing, or excavation will be needed.
Sometimes simply lifting a section of sidewalk over a drain or lifting a large stone will disclose a previously unrecognized wet area where a drain line has been broken or damaged.
Our photo (left) shows a source of both sewage odors and a blocked main drain line between a house and its septic tank.
The sewer line was broken when a heavy commercial lawn mower drove over the concrete sidewalk below which the sewer line had been installed.
We replaced the entire drain line between the house and the septic tank and our contractor made sure that the new plastic sewer line was properly protected from damage by bedding it in sand.
See SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT for details about installing a new sewer line.
If building drains are blocked or appear blocked hire a plumber to snake the drains. If all drains are blocked, the plumber might start by snaking out the main drain. During this process an experienced plumbing power snake handler can tell if the drain line is broken or damaged or clogged by tree roots. If this is the case an excavator and drain line repairs are needed.
If building drains are not blocked but drainage is slow, sluggish, smelly, or backing up into the building, an inspection of the septic tank can indicate (by abnormally high level) that the tank inlet baffle or outlet baffle are blocked (or missing entirely), or that the tank outlet to drainfield is backing up, or blocked, or the drainfield not working. Also see CLOGGED DRAIN DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
Pumping out or cleaning the septic tank to address an "odor problem" probably won't help: while periodic pumpout of a septic tank is important maintenance to protect the drainfield, will never "fix" one of these problems. The cause of blockage or failure needs to be identified and repaired.
We can think of a case, however, where pumping and inspecting the septic tank baffles might help diagnose a sewer gas odor outdoors or in the building. If the septic tank inlet or outlet baffle is partially blocked by the floating scum layer (the tank is past due for cleaning) sewer gases may back up into the building. See SEPTIC TANK PUMPING SCHEDULE and for a guide to inspecting septic tank baffles, see SEPTIC TANK BAFFLES.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Design Manuals for Septic Systems
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books