What is that awful smell wafting out of the bathroom? Although bathrooms can be pretty stinky places, chances are that if you smell a strong sewage odor, the smell is actually coming from the sewer itself.
Thanks to modern indoor plumbing we can effortlessly flush and wash away waste from our homes and usually it’s out of sight, out of mind. Unfortunately, that's not always the case and when plumbing problems arise, it can get pretty smelly, and may even be hazardous to your health.
Those sewage smells could be caused from sewer gas seeping back through your pipes. Sewer gas can be made of gas compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen and hydrogen. While typically harmless, direct contact with the combination of these gases can cause headaches and possible respiratory issues. If you notice an unusual odor coming from your bathroom, get the problem fixed right away.
Fill the P-Trap
Luckily the most common issue is also the easiest to fix. The section of piping shaped like a U under your sink is called the “P-Trap." This pipe is designed to store a small amount of drain water in it after you flush, run water, or empty the bathtub. This little bit of standing water blocks the sewer gases from coming back up the drain. If you haven’t used your drains in awhile, the tap water could have dried up, allowing the sewer gases to leak back into your home. The easy fix is to run some water down the drain and wait a few minutes to see if the smell goes away.
Clean the Pipes
If the P-Trap isn't the issue, chances are that a stinky film has built up on the inside of the pipe. This is more common in kitchen sinks, food disposals or drains in which food and biological material is regularly washed down the drain. The only way to resolve this issue is to scrub the pipes clean. If you decide to try this yourself, get a long flexible pipe brush, scrub with it and then put a solution of half water/half chlorine down the drain to help deodorize and clean the pipes.
Check the Walls
Try to locate the smell. If you notice that the smell seems to be coming from the walls, it is most likely an issue with the vent pipe. The vent pipe is designed to send sewer gas and odors outside the home so that you don’t smell or breathe them. However, sometimes contractors cut or install the vent pipe improperly and it doesn’t take the odors out like it should. A vent pipe can also become blocked so it doesn't vent properly, causing build-up inside the home. Or it could develop cracks over time, causing sewer gas to leak into your home.
If you’ve tried the above steps and still can’t identify the problem, it’s time to call the professionals. Here at A#1 Air Plumbing, we have the experience, expertise and tools to identify and quickly fix sewage problems.