Photograph of a home made septic tank in snow Sewer & Septic Odor Cures
Remedies for Sewer Odors Caused by Plumbing Defects or Septic System Defects

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Cure for sewer smells & odors in or around buildings:

How to find and fix the source of sewer or septic smells & gas odors in or at buildings: common odor sources and how to find and fix them.

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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Remedies for Sewer Odors Caused by Plumbing Defects or Septic System Defects

Photograph of melting snow indicating septic tank location

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Article Contents:

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.

List of Common Sources of Odors Traced to Building Plumbing Systems

Abandoned plumbing drain left un-sealed is an odor and sewer gas hazard (C) Daniel Friedman Abandoned plumbing drain left un-sealed is an odor and sewer gas hazard (C) Daniel Friedman

Transite plumbing vent (C) Daniel Friedman

Odors and Plumbing Drain Line Leaks or Blockage Repairs

Blocked sewer line (C) Daniel FriedmanDiagnose leaks and/or sewer gas odors due to damaged drain or sewer line piping

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.

Blocked Drains as a Cause of Septic or Sewage Odors

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.


Slow Drains as a Cause of Septic or Sewer Gas Odors

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.


for a guide to inspecting septic tank baffles, see SEPTIC TANK BAFFLES.


Continue reading at SITE WEATHER or NEIGHBOR'S SEWER ODORS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

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