It can be really annoying. Your bathroom is smelling terrible when you want to take a shower or change clothes. It is also not pleasant when you get guests over. Let’s take a look at what the problem can be and what the solutions are. In some instances, it is quite easy to fix. In other cases, it can involve quite a lot of work.
A sink or shower that hasn’t been used in a while
Sinks and showers have a P-trap that holds the sewage smell outside by having water in it. If a sink or shower hasn’t been used for a while, this P-trap gets empty. This can let sewage smells inside of your bathroom. The solution is simple.
You just have to open the tap and let it run for a few minutes. This will fill the P-trap with water. This water can hold the sewage smell outside or in your bathroom. Just open up a window. You should be good to go. If this didn’t work, we can look at more problems.
The bottom of your sink and shower can contain hair or dirt. You can clean this quite easily by opening up the shower drain outlet (we have discussed this HERE). You can do the same with a sink and get this cleaned. If you want to go a step further, you can also use a toilet brush or sponge to clean this deeper. Always wear gloves when you do this. Get a bucket, soap, and cleaning paper. This can be a nasty job if it has been a while since you have cleaned this.
A leaking toilet
The bottom of your toilet might be leaking. The wax ring or flange that connects it to the floor might be broken. You can check this by running your hand around the base of the toilet and feeling if it is wet. A heat camera can also show a wet spot.
You can also run a camera through your toilet to see if there is a crack in the drain. Removing the toilet can help as well but this is not easy to do and reinstalling it is quite challenging if you are not used to this. Sometimes it can be quite difficult to spot and you might have to call a plumber.
A clogged drain
It is possible that there is a clog building up in the drain. This can hold dirt and make it smell over time. If you notice that the water is flowing slower than usual, it can be an indication of this issue. In some instances removing the P-trap can help you to remove the drain.
This can be quite easy in some instances. Then you let the plastic soak for a while (you can’t use the sink while you do this!). This can remove a lot of nasty smells. Let the faucet run for a few minutes after you have reinstalled the p-trap so that it gets filled with water. This holds sewage smells outside as well.
Don’t flush wet wipes, dirt, or other items that don’t belong in a toilet. These can clog a drain and a plumber might have to come out to use a water jetter to get the drain unclogged. In some instances, you can use an auger or drain snake to do this yourself. This is not easy to do and most people should just call a plumber at this point.
A leaking drains
Drains can leak. Often there are different pieces of drain connected and over time these connections (or fittings) can start to break. Sewage can be leaking into your walls or on the floor. These drains can be behind walls so it can be difficult to spot this. You can run your hands over the walls and try to see if you have stains on the wall.
A heat-sensing camera can help as well. This can develop into a serious problem if it is not taken care of so be sure to contact a plumber if you don’t know what is going on. They can run a camera in your drains and see if there is a problem. In some instances, a water pressure test can help.
This is blocking the drain and adding water to it. The goal is to see if the water remains in the drain or not. Smoke can also be used to check this. When there is a leak, the smoke will come out of it and this will be easy to see. Sometimes colored liquids are used as well to determine the location of the leak.
If sewage is leaking inside your house, there is a big problem. This can damage the walls, floors and even appliances. Make sure to get this checked out by a professional. Even a small leak at a pipe joint can have a big impact on how your plumbing system works.
Drains tend to break down after 20-25 years. If you have an older house, it can indicate that you will have to update some of your drains. This can involve a lot of work but ensures that you don’t have leaks anymore.
A plumber can do a pressure test to see if your drains hold water or if there is a leak. If there is a leak under your slab, it might be the only way to detect it.
A full septic tank
In rural areas, people sometimes have a septic tank to process the wastewater. A septic tank that is full can lead to bad smells as well. The sewage has nowhere to go as the tank is full and not able to process the sewage in time.
You will have to inspect the tank and call a company that will pump it for you. Be sure that they pump it completely empty. This will give it the best chance of working well again. Use the septic tank correctly: don’t flush wet wipes or cooking oils.
It is possible that you have rodents that are active somewhere. They can chew through your drains and make things smell bad. This is not a likely scenario but it is a possibility so this is why we mention it. You might have to close the holes that they use to get in.
To conclude, we can state that there are several reasons why there might be an odd smell in your bathroom. These can sometimes be easy to fix. For example, if the P-trap is empty, you just have to let some water run. In other situations, there is more work.
For example, the toilet can be broken and might need to be replaced. If you have to deal with sewage, always wear protective clothing and clean thoroughly. You might want to apply enzymes as well to make sure that everything is completely clean. Sewage is nasty and should be cleaned thoroughly. Be sure to check what is going on as things can get a lot worse if they are not being taken care of.
We have discussed here what you can do if you have a sewage smell in other parts of your house as well. This can indicate serious problems that need to be addressed. A plumber can help you with this if needed.