How to find and fix sewer smell in house

Sewer smell can be a nuisance as it resembles the smell of rotten eggs. It can be hard to identify the source of the smell and correct the situation. However, there are a few ways to fix the sewer smell in your house. You have to fix this as soon as possible as it can attract flies or rodents. It might also be flammable as it contains gas.


Find the source of the sewer smell

One way to identify the location of the problem is to go where it smells the most and look around. Using your hand to feel wet spots in that area can work as well. You can also try to identify the smell by using a gas leak detector.

This device measures the smell of sewage and can be used to identify the cause of the smell. Make sure that you find the cause of the smell, just throwing some baking soda in the drain might not solve the problem if there is a big leak. Let’s take a look at the most common causes: 

Drain under your sink

One of the most common reasons why your house has a sewage smell is because of an unused sink. Sinks have P-traps that hold some water to remove the sewage smell. Simply let the tap run for a few minutes and this will fill the p-trap again. The smell should be gone after this. This can happen when people travel or don’t use a certain area of the house. A shower also has a p-trap and the same can be done to fix it.

There can be dirt in the drain under your drain. You can remove it using the method discussed here. You can clean the drain and reattach it. Don’t use the sink when the drain is removed!

Septic tank

If you live in a rural area and have a septic tank in your garden, it is possible that it is full and needs to be pumped empty. You will have to call a company to do this for you. It will cost about 500 USD. Don’t wait with this as the sewage can back up and your toilets can leak dirty water. You might have to wait a few days before they can come to pump your tank so don’t wait too long with scheduling a service visit.

Drain leak

It is possible that your drain is leaking. There can be a hole in the drain and this can leak the water. Common sources of this are tree roots, rodents, or old pipes. Earthquakes can also lead to broken pipes. These pipes are often made out of plastic so they can break if you put a lot of pressure on them. 

Drain leaks can also happen under the floor or slab. Plumbers have devices to detect these leaks. This includes heat cameras that can detect colder areas. Some plumbers also have listening equipment this is not easy to use though.

They can also run a camera in your drain to see what is going on. A water-pressure test might be needed as well; this is done by blocking a part of the drain and seeing if it leaks water or not. It might be necessary to open up the floor. 

A small leak can build up over time and create a nasty smell. It can spread over the floor and cabinet before you might notice it. The leak can be under the sink or behind a wall. Sometimes you need professional equipment to detect it. It can happen inside or outside.

Clogged drain

A drain can get clogged for several reasons. It is possible that someone flushed a towel or wet wipes. This can stop the water from flowing and release a nasty smell. Hair, cooking oil, or soap can also create a clog. We have discussed how you can remove clogs before HERE. Often you can use a plunger and it is quite easy to get rid of this. In other instances, you will need professional material to get this done. 

Problem with the city system

It is possible that the city sewer is backed up or clogged. They can send someone out to see what is going on. It is possible that they might have to open up the street. If the problem is in your house, you might have to pay them as they showed up for nothing. Therefore it is essential that you check your own home before calling them. Calling a plumber before contacting the city can be a great idea. 

It doesn’t happen often that the city sewer system has issues as they often inspect things and have sensors to see what is going on. If it has rained a lot, it is possible that their system is backed up and this can lead to a bad smell for a few days. 

If you have a French drain, you can check if it works properly as this can smell as well if there is a problem. This drain is found in your garden.

Leaking toilet

The wax ring or flange of your toilet might be broken. This can result in a toilet that is leaking sewage in or under the floor. You will have to remove your toilet, clean up the area and reinstall the toilet correctly. You can do this by yourself if you are handy but most people ask a plumber as this needs to happen exactly.

You can often detect this by going with your hand around the bottom of the toilet. In most instances, you will feel that it is wet. It is possible that the water is leaking into the floor (especially if you have wooden floors).

Blocked vent

Your drains have a vent that runs through the roof. This vent adds oxygen to your drain so that the water can flow well. Sometimes this vent gets blocked by ice, animals or debris. You will have to check on your roof if the vent is open and working properly. Sometimes there is no vent installed and you need to get one.

Other issues

In some instances, it can be difficult to pinpoint what is going on. A smoke test can help you to find out where the issue is coming from. This requires quite a lot of work and is mainly used when the other detection methods didn’t work.

Correct the situation

 The first step will be to clean up the area. This can involve a wet vacuum and remind a lot of insulation or other materials. Once this is done, the pipe has to be cut and replaced. This can often be done quite fast and in a few hours, you can use your toilets again. If the leak is below your slab, it might take a lot of work. The plumber can open up the floors or tunnel under the slab. These are difficult repairs and they can be quite costly. This is why you should test your plumbing system before you buy a home!

You can use enzymes to remove the bad smell. Make sure that the area is properly cleaned before closing it again. You might have to throw away some stuff as this smell can get really deep in fabrics and insulation. 

Prevent further problems

You can ask a plumber to check your system. Sometimes replacing it is a great idea. Older drains might get corroded and leak more in the future. It is also possible that the connections between the drains are done poorly. 

It is also essential that you identify the source of the problem to avoid future problems.

For example, if you have a clogged drain you have to make sure that you don’t flush wet wipes or other items that shouldn’t be flushed. A plumber can often provide more information so that you can fix the problem. Having a sewage smell in your house once is fine but having it often can be really annoying. If you have guests over, it can be embarrassing and should be avoided.

To conclude, we can state that there are several reasons why you have a sewage smell in your house. We also outlined some ways in which you can detect and avoid them. 

Overall, a sewage smell in your house is not fun. We have discussed what you can do about it in this article. Often it doesn’t take too much work to get this fixed.

A sewer inspection can also help to uncover the problem.