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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 TRANSMISSION 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
Sewer or septic gas odor diagnosis & cure: our septic or sewer gas odor cure article series beginning here describes how to diagnose, find, and cure odors in buildings including septic or sewage or sewer gas smells or "gas odors" in buildings with a focus on homes with a private onsite septic tank but including tips for owners whose home is connected to a sewer system as well. What makes the smell in sewer gas?
Sewer gases are more than an obnoxious odor. They can be dangerous.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2014 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
Sewer gases also probably contain hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S). In addition some writers opine that there are possible
health hazards from sewer gas exposure, such as a bacterial infection of the sinuses (which can occur due to any sinus irritation).
Depending on the sewer gas source and other factors such as humidity and building
and weather conditions, mold spores may also be present in sewer gases
How do you measure or check sewer gases to see if the smell we have coming out of our bathroom is a gas or just a smell? and does it measure the smell/gas to see if its at a dangerous level? - K.E.
Reply: Start Tracking Down Sewer Gas or Septic Gas Indoor Odors Right Here
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem. That said, here are some things to consider:
What steps are useful to avoid smelling (or blowing up from) the gases that form and naturally want to escape from residential septic systems? How can we diagnose sewer odors at a building site to determine if it's a venting problem, a failure of the septic system, or the failure of a neighbor's septic system, or perhaps even a leak from a fuel gas line or appliance?
First Check for Very Dangerous Conditions: fuel gas leaks, sewer gas leaks, gas accumulation
Watch out: both hydrogen sulfide gas and methane gas are potentially explosive
The photo shows black stains on copper tubing at the flare fitting connecting an LP gas line to a shutoff valve. Some service technicians
point to stains on piping as an evidence of a possible chronic leak in the gas line at this point.
Even so simple a task as dialing a telephone could provide a dangerous spark and cause an explosion. In New York City there seems to be about one terrible gas explosion
a year that is blamed on either a fuel gas leak or a sewer gas leak which accumulated explosive gas in a building.
Observe septic system safety procedures When opening a septic tank for service or repair, observe the safety precautions I describe earlier on this web page.
We have had reports of a septic pumper having his face burned by exploding methane when he lit a cigarette during pumping, a homeowner who generated an explosion of the septic tank that rocked the entire neighborhood when he built a brush fire atop the septic tank.
We have also read of deaths occurring when untrained service people entered a pumped-out septic tank to inspect it.
Also Check for the presence of Chinese drywall: because it is easy to mistake other sulphur odors for sewer gas, if your building was built or remodeled between 2001 and 2007, especially in 2006 or 2007,
At SEPTIC & CESSPOOL SAFETY we explain that gases produced in a septic tank are dangerous, as a potential source of explosion and as a cause of death by asphyxiation if someone falls into or deliberately enters a septic tank.
In low concentrations (less than 0.15 mg per liter), hydrogen sulfide may produce inflammation of the eyes, nose, and throat if breathed for periods of 1/2 to 1 hour. Higher concentrations (0.75 mg per liter or greater) are rapidly fatal, presumably by combination of the hydrogen sulfide with the respiratory tissue pigments and the subsequent paralysis of the respiratory center.
The symptoms depend upon the concentration of the gas. At the lowest concentrations, the effects are chiefly on the eyes; that is, conjunctivitis, swollen eyelids, itchiness, smarting, pain, photophobia, and blurring of vision. At higher concentrations, respiratory tract symptoms are more pronounced.
Rhinitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, and bronchitis may occur. Pulmonary edema may result. At very high concentrations, unconsciousness, convulsions, and cessation of respiration rapidly develop.
Watch out: higher concentrations of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas (0.75 mg per liter or greater) are rapidly fatal, presumably by combination of the hydrogen sulfide with the respiratory tissue pigments and the subsequent paralysis of the respiratory center.
Details about hydrogen sulfide gas are at HYDROGEN SULFIDE GAS where we discuss the effects of exposure to H2S and H2S exposure limits.
Please see BIOGAS PRODUCTION & USE for our full article on this topic.
A few readers have asked if they could just capture methane gas from their septic tank to use as a household fuel for heating, cooking, or gas lighting. And there are septic-tank-like systems designed for that purpose, but as we warn below, don't just try hooking up your septic tank to a gas burner.
Indeed biogas can be produced, captured, compressed (like natural gas) and used as a fuel, including powering vehicles.
Continue reading at SEWER GAS ODORS in COLD WEATHER or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
Suggested citation for this web page
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The original discussion at this location has been moved to a separate article at SEWER SEPTIC GAS CONDUIT LEAKS Through Electrical Conduit? - Separate article
The original discussion at this location has also been moved to a separate article now at - SEWER SEPTIC ODORS in HVAC DUCTS
Question: Sewage odor from nearby manhole cover
Our rent house is right next to an alley. There's a manhole there from which emanates a strong sewage smell. This is an old neighborhood with old clay pipes that we suspect are broken underground, but the city will not dig them up and replace them unless there is standing water.
The smell permeates the air outside the house and is pumped in through all ac vents into our home. Every couple of months the city will drop a "scent cake" out there, which does nothing to help. I'm 6 months pregnant and worried about any health risks this may bring to my infant. I'm at my wit's end trying to get the city's cooperation! Help! - Rachel
Dropping a deodorant into a manhole over a sewer system is not going to correct an ongoing sewer gas leak or odor problem. You may want to contact an official in your city's health department, ask them to visit the site during an odorous time and to agree to have the problem diagnosed and corrected.
Question: where we removed a toilet the drain now smells - is this dangerous?
We have an upstairs toilet that leaks that we haven't used in some time. My husband took it up four days ago and left the drain hole open. Are we in danger due to methane gas. It smells bad in that part of the house. - Stacy
Question: horrible odor coming from basement, abandoned septic tank?
We have a horrible oder coming from the basement. We believe there might be a septic tank abandoned in our property. Would old un-used septic tank cause odor to the house? - Winnie Wong
No, not normally. But for safety you should find the tank and make sure that it is properly abandoned such as by filling-in. If someone falls into a septic tank they're likey to die in minutes.
Question: horrible smell from under floor slab points to sewer
For the last 5 months we have been in this home there has been a horrible smell. I have had tampa gas, Roto Rooter, mold people, handmen, rat control, air conditioning fellow, and tampa sewer.
They all point to sewer. We have had smoke tests as well. We feel it is a breach under the slab and it is prevalent in one bathroom and the air conditioner/fan circulates it throughout the house. It was very bad on days it rained but now it is unbarable on dry days. It is getting worse and wakes us from our sleep. It can come and go but if we turn the furnace face on automatic the odor will build.
We feel the only thing left to do is scope the lines but landlord is now checking the environmental issues like the ponds in the area and the levels of the water for swamp gas. Please help us. 813 994 3391.
Question: horrible bleach smell from kitchen drains
I am smelling something horrible coming from the kitchen drains, our utility room and toilet area. The smell actually took my breath away a couple of times like my throat was closing. The only smell that I can say is similar is the smell of bleach. That super strong odor. Could it be the septic? - Wendy
A bleach smell would not be something I'd expect to find coming from a septic system. If you trust your sense of smell, I'd be looking for a chemical spill or something having been poured down the drains.
Question: biofilm suspected in bath tub and toilet - black slime
I rent an apartment and have noticed what I suspect to be biofilm in nature. First, the drains in the double kitchen stainless steel sink, bathroom sink, and bathtub seem to be overgrowing with black slime. I clean all areas on a regular basis with a bleach based cleanser.
My next problem concerns the toilet (which I suspect might have a biofilm issue as well?). Every few days or so, the toilet "burps" (almost like air pressure purging back into the toilet) and then it bubbles followed by a terrible odor. If you think it is an issue concerning biofilm, is there any way I can control this myself with some type of disinfectant by pouring it down each drain. Any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
Question: smells and sewer gases traced to bathroom toilet
I have a smelly bathroom and I just replaced the wax seal and sealed the bowl, cleard any obstuction from the roof vent with a power hose and still I have a smell. what's next.? - Leo
We recently had a new septic system put in. Ever since we had it installed, we now get occasionally, a very strong sewer gas smell in our bathroom. How do we stop this odor from comming in? It never happened with the old system. - Val
I have 2 bathrooms on 2 different levels of the house. I am getting intermittent septic odor smells backinging up into both bathrooms. It happens in good weather and bad. It's not every day but when it happens it's usually for at least a week at a time. I had the tank drained,, the toilets checked for leaky seals, the vent pipe checked for blockage. No one can diagnose the problem but it it dangerous and I need help. What other measures can I use to diagnose the problem? - Lynne
In starting with the easy and low cost bath smell cure steps,
- check for dry traps at unused fixtures
- replace the toilet wax ring,
- check ceilings below the bathroom for signs of leakage
- listen to nearby drains when the toilet flushes - gurgling can indicater a clogged main drain or inadequate plumbing vents; if so, investigate and cure drain blockages, or in some cases, a "blockage" that occurs in the waste piping because the septic tank and drainfield are backing up
- ask your plumber to inspect the plumbing vent system for proper layout, size, routing, connections, and termination
- pressure test the vent system for leaks that may be hidden in walls, floors, ceilings
Question: Mysterious Sewer odor solved by fixing a rubber gasket at the house trap
Mysterious Sewer odor solved!!!
We found it. The rubber gasket after the house trap that connects the cast iron 5 foot pipe to the outside of my house and the metal house trap was venting a small amount of gas ONLY when water was flowing through it...(hence no smoke during that test) We proved it with a lighter (NOT RECOMMENDED) but when water flows in large volumes, such as a tub draining... the flame flickers and continues to do so for a seconds after the large water flow.. note it does not happen if a toilet flushes.
Temporary fix was to put some Mortite around the pipe and gasket... 5 days no smell.. Now we have 2 choices, cut out the main trap and put in new pipes, or... just tar the gasket....( a 10 dollar fix) - Paul, Long Island, NY 2/1/12
Thanks Paul, this experience report will help other readers. - Ed.
Question: sewer smell in storage room under staircase
We have been having sewer smell in the storage room underneath our staircase for 2 years. We tried a lot of things including buying a combustible gas detector.
The 0.01ppm detector detected nothing. But our nose can still smell it. Occasionally we had smelled the same in the adjcent bathroom (they share a wall). But it wasn't consistent and not always. It's so misterious and we are desperate to get it resolved. Any help/advice will be highly appreciated!!! - Still Searching 3/11/12
Try the diagnostic suggestions at ODOR DIAGNOSIS CHECKLIST, PROCEDURE
Question: odor problem after we added a second line to our septic tank - sewer gas now enters the house
I never noticed this problem til after the addition of a second line to our concrete tank. now sewewr air comes in the house (I believe in the kitchen area) we tried to check roof vents, had an s trap put in kitchen sinks (they had none). I also suspect the kitchen sink is not tied in to the vent (Small high ceiling log cabin with kitchen sink away from other plumbing... but never noticed trouble before the new line to garage was added. Any ideas? - Kris 6/5/12
Kris I may have misunderstood, but "S" traps are not used in new construction as they easily lose the water in the trap base, thus permitting sewer gases to enter the building through the fixture drain.
Question: cracked cast iron sewer pipe was fixed but sewer smells are lingering
Our house was listed for sale last week.
Vicki I hate when that happens - sewer leaks. It's possible that the lingering miasma (a sewage smell) is because there was not just a cracked pipe but sewage leakage into the building. ANd depending on the cause of the crack, don't rule out the possibility that there are other cracked sections , p0erhaps in inaccessible or hard to see areas.
Thank you for your advice DanJoeFriedman.
Question: Do black copper pipes have to be replaced or should they be cleaned?
If the copper pipes are black due to long term exposure (2 years) to sewer gas, do the copper pipes affected all need to be replaced, or can they be cleaned, and if so, with what products? The source of the sewer gas has bee rectified. - Gail Rose 8/13/12
Copper drain piping that is not actually corroded to risk leakage does not need to be replaced nor cleaned, but you should be sure that you don't have any remaining sewer gas leaks.
Question: rancid smell after town sewer work
Please help! I have a 115 year old home that I have lived in for 12 years. Recently, approx 6 weeks ago, the town was doing work on the sewer lines located on the street that I live on. One afternoon, end of a work day i returned home to an extremely rancid smell that permeated throughout the entire house. The town has since inspected and said they could not find any reason that it should happen. HERE IS WHERE IT GETS WEIRD. The smell shows up daily and seems to be time specific each day from 3:30 pm to around 5:30 pm?! In addition to the towns inspection, we have had two different plumbers inspect from top to bottom. Any suggestions would be sincerely appreciated. - Anonymous 8/19/12
Try the diagnostic suggestions at ODOR DIAGNOSIS CHECKLIST, PROCEDURE where you'll see that we suggest looking for things to correlate with smells that appear at particular times or seasons, such as
- operation of nearby businesses or activities
- operation of equipment
Question: sulphur odor in water, filter fixed it, then sewer gas odors.
I am looking for some advice. We have just moved in a brand new home. At first we could smell a strong sulphur odor in our water. We had a centaur filter put in, which took the smell away immediately. I then noticed sewer gas smell mainly in our 2nd floor laundry room, but also the 1st floor mudroom (utility sink.) I was told to add water to the sinks and floor drains and mineral oil to the floor drains as well. I did this and we still have the sewer gas odor, especially after I do laundry.
My dryer which was working perfectly before the move, now takes 3 cycles to dry a load of clothes. It is after running it, that the smell worsens. FYI the dryer is not vented to the outside wall, but apparently into the stack and up through the roof through a static vent. I would love some ideas as to what it could be as we are now having burning noses and throats and headaches. Thanks so much in advance. - Heather 9/12/12
An update. The plumbers came and did a smoke drop test. There were no evident leaks in there. The builder sent out someone the next day, who found the dryer vent on the roof was totally blocked with a mat of lint. He removed that and the wire mesh that was left in place. They raised the vent stack to over 3 feet. I let the house "air out" for 3 days then decided yesterday, that we needed to try out the AC, as our symptoms increase dramatically when it is on. Within 10 minutes of it being on, we started again, with burning eyes and throat with headache.
The dog even had clear drainage from his nose. Today the HVAC technician was here to look at both the unit in the attic and the one in the basement. He thought that it could be the oil that is applied at the factory, that was not burned off. He told me to run the heat for as long as I could, which I did.
We are getting the vents and units cleaned tomorrow. He then told me to run the AC after and see if we continued to have symptoms. Everything I have read points me to the fact that we are inhaling either VOCs or formaldehyde. The house is brand new, and I would not expect "sick building syndrome" in a brand new home. I have never reacted this way to anything before. I am at a loss. Also, there is no attic fan.
Do you think we could benefit from having one placed? Thank you so much for the help. - Heather
Heather, based upon your comments - you are a good candidate for an air quality test. An environmental testing co. could take samples from your home and have them analyzed for gas levels . turnaround would be a week or so and would identify higher than standard levels in you home. Possible sources (other than those you've mentioned)are : paint off gassing, hardwood floor finish, carpet fibers, cabinet plywood or particle board, particle board carpet base, among others. Any new home will have a period of off gassing from finish materials . higher indoor temperatures accelerate the gassing effects. - DF
Comment from reader NCBuilder:
Heather, your builder should also be able to provide EPA data sheets from manufacturers of finish materials used in your home : paints, varnishes, floor finishes, catalyzed laquer (cabinets), carpet fibers, etc. These would be a big help if you indeed go the air quality sampling route.
Thanks NCBuilder - Ed.
Question: foul smell in bathrooms and main drain
My home has a foul smell. In both bathrooms, sinks, and main drain in the basement. I noticed today that the main waste stack has two 90 degrees on it, is that ok? Could that be contributing to my smell? I live in St. Louis, MO - Mary 10/30/2012
If the plumbing vent (main waste stack) is unchanged, that is if that double bend has always been present and the odors are new, I doubt that it's the problem. But I'd agree that a blocked or leaky plumbing vent system is often an odor source.
Question: electric motor to help move sewage through pipes?
Is there an electrical motor that helps move the sewage from the toilet through the pipes and into the septic tank? And, what moves the water out the leach lines. i had noticed a noise after running water either kitchen or bathroom or flushing about 2 months ago, and now I believe I smell some gases - more like "sitting water" smells in the house. It is not specifically around the toilet or drains. I also noticed the 45 foot leach lines are still watering the grass in the pasture, but not to the end of the lines as they once did. My house is 45 years old, and I purchased it about 17 years ago. - Phyllis 11/17/12
See SEWAGE PUMPS for a starting point. There are several types of pumps and systems - sewage ejector pumps or sewage grinder pumps for two.
Question: sewer gases at sinks and smelly dishwasher
I have two problems. One: Sewer gases smells are coming from my bathroom sinks, one upstairs and one downstairs. It is not all the time but at least 80% of the time. I my landlord but is just said that this is a problems that lots of people have and nothing is wrong. He never actually investigated. The secoond problem: My dishwasher is emitting some type of datk gummy residue all over my dishes. In addition, I also notice a dark powder like substance on the outside of the dryer at the bottom.
My landlord said that these problems come from food particles left on dishes. I always use a brush to wash my dishes and I know that this is not the cause. It appears that there is a build up of some kind and then it is all over everthing. I wonder if the two problems are related and if this is residue from the sewer. I am a senior citizen and recently my daughter and her 8 month old baby living here. I am concerned for our safety. I have some medical issues that never occuted before I moved her a few years ago. such as extreme fatigue and some times headaches. Could you pleasae give some advise. How can I get these things tested without it being too costly? - Barbara 12/1/12
Your landlord is wrong that sewer gases are harmless; the risks are of a methane or hydrogen suflide gas explosion, and from chronic exposure there are potential health effects (citations are in the references at the end of this article).
While it's common to detect slight odors and low gas levels right at sink drains if you are smelling those odors in the occupied space, that is not normal and needs to be investigated and corrected.
Question: smells in mobile home
II have rented this moble home for 5 months now and my 22 month old baby and the rest of the family have been sick for a while. Even after cleaning really good. About a week ago i had a pipe freeze and bust ao called the plumber while fixing the busted pipe he said that my drain pipe was not hooked up to septic but had been draining under the house. The pipe has been fixed but landlords have not had anyone come clean under house. Is that something to worry about? - S Susan 1/29/2013
Without inspecting and testing we don't actually know what hazards are present in your home nor if the unsanitary conditions under the home are showing up indoors. But nevertheless, you are describing an unhealthy condition that almost surely violates local building and plumbing codes in your area.
Watch out: bacterial hazards, sewer gas hazards, methane and hydrogen sulfide gas hazards are all potential health hazards and where those gases accumulate indoors they can even be an explosion hazard. Notify your landlord in writing of these conditions and ask for immediate repair and also cleaning and sanitizing at your home.
Question: smelly water from drain leak, burping toilets
My house has attached semi-outdoors laundry with a toilet and a sink, but the leak comes from the wall next to a bathroom. The water that leaks looks clear but stinks like sewer. Toilets are burping with air bubbles backing up into restrooms. What could be wrong? - John 2/23/13
You are describing what sounds like a blocked drain and backup leakage into the building. Further investigation, repair, and sanitizing are almost certainly needed.
Question: dead animal in the ducts? dead mouse smells in walls?
(Mar 14, 2014) Susan Sandlin said:
The following link does not appear to be functional: "There is a Septic Tank Odor Coming from a Vent Under My Air Conditioner." Unfortunately, this is the problem that we seem to be having. A very putrid odor is blown out of the supply vents when the air conditioner is on. We are trying to determine the cause and what needs to be done to fix it, as it is such a foul smell that I don't believe we will be able to stay in the house if the air conditioner is needed.
(July 10, 2014) Charles Armstrong said:
Smell in Utility Rm. I have my septic cleaned out, I've cut holes in walls for dead mice. I,ve moved my washer out into the garage, I,ve stuffed rages down my washer stand pipe and my sink in the utility rm. Is their an odor sniffer that I can use to track down the smell?
Susan you've caught me amid moving some topics around, but you can read the A/C odor comments in the FAQS discussion a above. Just click on "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" and you'll find our discussion starting at
Question: There is a Septic Tank Odor Coming from a Vent Under My Air Conditioner: Who do I Call?
Let me know what you think and what questions remain.
And consider a dead animal in the air handler or ductwork - if that's the case the risk is more than odor as health concerns could be present.
In the More Reading links just above click on
TESTS for SEWER GAS INDOORS
and read about using the TIF8800 combustible gas analyzer
Question: pungent nauseating odors
(Apr 19, 2014) katherine said:
Early morning and night time air odours, Pungent, sulphurous, nauseating,-could this be bore water especially with no rain for months. In WA.
Katherine, after you've reviewed the steps above about how to find a sewer gas odour source, it may help to combine the visual inspection steps with the checklist described at inspectapedia.com/odor_diagnosis/Odors_Diagnosis_Checklist.htm
Question: hydrogen sulfide smell in sewer line
(Apr 21, 2014) don said:
I have hydrogen sulphide smell in my sewer line and have identified but have yet to see anyone's help to remove the problem.. what do I put in my sewer drains and lines.
Reply: sewer line deodorants & additvies?
I don't think that ANY additive, chemical, or treatment poured into the sewer drains and lines is likely to be effective, and it may be harmful to the drainfield and will be illegal in many jurisdictions if you are connected to a private septic system.
Rather we want to track down the odor cause and fix that. Examples are defects in the plumbing vent system, leaks in the sewer piping, or a backing-up main building drain, or if you are connected to a private septic system, a backing up or clogged septic system.
(Apr 23, 2014) Anonymous said:
thanks for your response. I have a lagoon system, installed a new mobile home in dec 2013, the odor started about mid Jan while wife was doing laundry, I understood bleach would clear up pipes but no luck, strong smell from vent pipes on roof, strong smell around out side seems to come from vent lines, have replaced all vent line check valves to P traps but no change in odor, when washing machine is running seems to be worse, if it's machine how do I rid this from machine... thanks for any input as odor is quite strong at times.....don
We discuss lagoon septic systems at inspectapedia.com/septic/Lagoons.htm - take a look.
Some odors are normal around a septic lagoon treatment area, but others are not, as you'll see in that article.
Bleach will not fix anything in this case and if used in quantity it may harm the septic system.
(May 2, 2014) Don said:
After much searching you can rid the hydrogen suphur smell, try using hydrogen peroxide. I do a week ago and no smell left. I put a bottle in each drain, the washing machine and each vent line on the roof. so my original question is answered and hope this helps anyone else with this problem.
(May 3, 2014) Anonymous said:
Watch out: Don's advice is dangerous. It treats the smell symptom not the cause. If sewer gas is entering a building there is risk of an explosion.
Question: how to clean pipes in an old building
(May 10, 2014) Jessica said:
I clean in very old buildings with very old pipes. I am told to put water down the drains to take care of this problem. I have seven buildings but two in particular that horrible fumes come out on windy and hot days. Rust also comes out of the sink and toilets when the sprinkler pipes are flushed making the toilet & urinal water brown. I am sensitive to smells because of restrited airway disease. I know I am in the wrong business and I did get sick at my work in a different area in the past. This building was checked out on the third day of the horrible fumes and of course by then, they has abated. I did not put water in the trap on purpose because this not what all the fumes were from. I wanted them to see that was not the problem.
This building and it's pipes are from the late 50's early 60's. I was told the pipes are broken up under the building and obviously very old by some of the older Craft employees. The fumes are in two of the four bathrooms on one side and the custodial closet. In the custodial closet there is an underground that is coverd and that room reeks too. Because the third day the fumes were not there, I looked like I didn't know what I was talking about.
I did get sick on top of my restrictive airway disease and that scared me even more. I came down with horrible head cold and headaches. Making my breathing even more difficult. What would make the fumes come and go? Is it dangerous? Can it be fixed? Would it cause the added effects that I mentioned? I know alot of questions but I have to have my ducks in a row when I return to work from being sick. Thank you so much for yur time.
There is more building specific information that one would need to give a reliable diagnostic answer to what's going on. Rusty water is not necessarily dangerous; but sewer gas, if that's entering the building, could be quite dangerous both as a health hazard and an explosion hazard - IF that is what is present. The causes are not what one could diagnose from just a text message, though our articles on sewer gas odors list many common causes such as blocked drains and defective plumbing vents.
If you see open drain cleanouts, sewage spills, leaky pipes, or smell what you think is sewer gas (sewage smell or sulphur or methane gas smell) you should report those to appropriate building management as safety and health hazards for everyone.
Question: worried about septic tank odors and health effects
(May 27, 2014) Megan said:
Hi I am worried about my sons health we have a garage built in to a room when we moved in well the owners had a septic tank in the back... and well we have these horrible smells threw out the day. and I was just reading and it contains methane gases. what is the best way to fix the problems cause I am worried about the gaes and my sons health
Megan there ought not be sewer gases invading the home from a septic tank; the odor may indicate that there is a backup at the tank, leaks at the tank, or a failing drainfield. I'd try to track own the odor more accurately.
If the septic tank is in use the system will need diagnosis & possibly repair.
if the septic system is not in use it needs to be emptied, cleaned, and filled-in.
Question: odors after septic tank pumped
(May 28, 2014) Dee said:
After having my septic tank empty I have a strong odor coming up from the bathroom shower when you run water
Sounds as if there might be dry traps in other fixtures or a leaky vent piping. Cleaning a septic tank ought not create an odor problem in the building.
Question: strange odors after installing laminate floors in bathrooms
(June 2, 2014) Damali Robertson said:
I recently had laminate floors installed in my bathrooms. Since the installation, one of my bathrooms has had a very strange odor (that comes and goes). Had a plumber come out on a day when it wasn't that bad. He cleared hair out of a drain in one of the sinks. But the smell came back and again comes in and out. One the days it is present, it is really strong. In trying to figure it out, came across this article. The contractors removed the toilet to lay the flooring. Is there a possible connection and what is the best next step to take?
CHeck for odors coming from the flooring itself or its adhesive.
Check for a bad toilet wax ring seal.
Question: sewage smells when water runs in the bath fixtures
(July 5, 2014) Val said:
My bathroom sink (and, recently, my bathtub) smells like sewer whenever I run the water, be it hot or cold. It doesn't smell like rotten eggs; more like poo. There is no gurgling sound and both drain properly. The sink is new, as well as the P trap. I opened the P trap and the water smells like sewer, like, really bad. The washer drain, also located in the bathroom, is fine, as well as the kitchen sink.
I replaced the bathroom sink for two reasons: this odor and the fact that it was old, hoping this will solve the problem. It didn't. When I replaced the sink I used an auger to clean the drain as well as I could. There was no abnormal smell coming from the drain at that time. This puzzles me because I don't understand why it doesn't smell when the p-trap and the other components are removed but does when they're installed... Also, it doesn't smell when the water is turned off and it is present regardless of the weather or season.
I live in a city so my water drains into the city main. Also, I live on the top floor of a duplex. The first floor doesn't have this issue. I suspected it might be the toilet that sucks the water from the p trap when i flush it but it's not that. Even if I don't use the toilet, the odor is present. Strangely, the toilet doesn't smell when I flush it. Any possible explanation? Thanks!
Unfortunately if sewer gases are backing up through a sink drain, replacing the drain and trap are unlikely to fix the problem. One needs to find the cause such as improper venting that tends to cause water to siphon out of a trap.
I suspect that when you run water, the draining water is displacing sewer gases in the piping that should be vented above the roof but instead are entering the drain system.
Question: sewer odors after new sewer line installed
(Aug 6, 2014) Paula said:
We had a new lateral line dug because our original two were saturated and now we have a sewer smell in one bathroom daily and once in the whole house. Our plumber crawled under the house and didn't see any leaks. We had just had the tank pumped out and no one can figure it out. Help
If you are sure that the smell problem originated with the excavation and drainfield line work then I'd be looking for an error in the installation that blocked a drainfield line, D-box, etc.
ALso check the obvious and unrelated causes: a loose toilet, bad wax ring seal, improper venting.
Question: new house, terrible smell in bathroom
9/1/2014 Fiona said:
Can anyone help please. New house, two bathrooms finished, terrible smell from one. Then installed the next en suite and the smell is now in that room and gone from the previous room? We put a new toilet in the old room that smelt and new toilet in the new en suite but used the same cistern. We still have another en suite to complete but the smell in the new one is awful. We have an eco friendly septic tank. Does anyone have any ideas please?
Check for incomplete or improper drain, waste, or vent plumbing for the smelly bathroom
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