A noxious sewer smell in your home is not just annoying and embarrassing – it can also be harmful to your health and safety. Sewer gas can be caused by various plumbing issues—some easily fixable, some requiring a professional plumber. A product of decaying waste material, sewer gas may be composed of methane, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide, a brew that in high concentrations can cause physical symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and asphyxia in addition to the danger of explosion or fire.
Before calling your plumbing professional to track down and mitigate your sewer smell, check if your problem is a minor one that will respond to a relatively simple fix.
Depending on the location of the smell, here are a few things to check.
- Look for leaks in the wax ring around your toilet base. Replace if necessary.
- Run water through all P-traps and S-traps. If they have become dry, sewer gas has a direct route into your home.
- Check drain clean-out plugs to see if they need cleaning or replacing.
- If the smell comes from your shower, it may be a build-up of cleaning products and bacterial growth. The drain can be flushed with hot water, white vinegar, baking soda, and more hot water.
If none of these procedures work, it’s time to call a professional who will check some of these more severe but common sources of sewer gas.
- ALWAYS contact a professional immediately if you have overflowing drains from a backed-up sewer. Your plumber will need to determine the cause, such as a collapsed line, a blocked main, or a tree root invasion, and make the necessary repairs.
- Clogged vent pipes can cause a sewer gas build-up. Your plumber will need to climb the roof to clear the clog.
- Your plumbing professional can determine if your sewage gas problems have been created by improperly installed vent pipes or P-traps and repair the problem.
- A cracked foundation can allow gas to infiltrate your home. While this dreaded possibility is not the most common source of the problem, it pays to rule out the possibility.
Keep your family safe. Never ignore a sewer smell in your home!