What Does Sewer Gas Smell Like and How Do You Get Rid of It?

Is that Sewer Gas? How to Define, Find, and Rid Your Home of Sewer Gas

Sewer gas in your home always feels like a major issue, even if the repair is minor (though it may not always be). The noxious fumes that comprise sewer gas are the by-product of decaying waste, which typically smells like sulfur or rotten eggs. The source is typically easy to track – just follow your nose. And the remedy can be as easy as turning on the faucet for a few moments, or as extensive as a septic line leak. Below, we will discuss the ways in which you can stop sewer gas from entering your home.

What Does Sewer Gas Smell Like

Sewer gas in your home can smell faint or very strong, depending on the location of the “leak.” Either way, its smell is pretty undeniable. The aroma of rotten eggs is due to one of the gas compounds: hydrogen sulfide. The other two chemicals that comprise sewer gas are ammonia and methane.  Even if the stench is strong, it is rare to be exposed to high concentrations of the gas in a home. However, it is more common to be exposed to high concentrations of sewer gas in an industrial workplace – and the side effects of extreme exposure can include headaches, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and asphyxiation.

If the concentrations are low, simply begin searching for the source of the smell by moving from room to room. Your nose will likely lead you to a bathroom or kitchen drain.

How to Get Rid of Sewer Gas

The most common causes of sewer gas in the home are easy to remedy. One-step fixes will have your home smelling fresh in no time.

  • Water Traps

Water traps are those s-shaped pipes below every sink in your house, and often near floor drains and laundry outtakes. They are also called P-traps and/or S-traps. When the bend is filled with water, it serves as a blockade against sewer gas, not allowing any fumes that may have arisen from the sewer lines below. These traps dry out when they are not used often, if the climate is very dry, or if there is a leak.

Sink P Trap

The easiest remedy to try first, if your smell is coming from a sink, tub, or floor drain, is to run water into the drain for a few seconds to refill the trap. This will restore the barrier and prevent more gas from entering your home.

  • Sewer Cleanouts

This is where the work begins to increase. If resetting the S-traps did not solve the problem, the next place to try is your sewer cleanout. Sewer cleanouts are angled, capped tubes that lead to your underground sewer pipe. They will either have a screw-on top or a tight-fitting cover. First, make sure the cover is sealed correctly, and there are no cracks or missing sealants. If you found any breaches in the seal, you will have had sewer gas leaking up from them. Fasten or replace the lid and then seal the house back up and check if the smell has dissipated.

Outdoor Sewer Cleanout

  • Toilet Seals

The wax seal at the bottom of your toilet, where it meets the floor, can dry up or default with age/use. Breaks in the seal can allow sewer gas to seep in under the toilet. Replacing the wax seal may require a plumber.

Toilet Wax Ring

When to Call a Professional

If you have tried these tactics and not found a solution, it is time to call in the professionals. Causes of the smell could include a cracked or collapsing sewer line or loose connections between pipes within your walls or underneath your floors. A team of professionals who can scope out the pipes would be ideal, as they can find the source of the leak through non-invasive measures.

Call Pipelining Technologies Inc.

Pipelining Technologies, Inc. has the tools and experience to detect and remedy sewer gas through vapor testing, which determines the source of the sewer gas smell, and sewer pipe video inspection, which provides an absolute diagnosis of pipe damage. Based on the location of the leak, the certified professionals can help repair seals or re-line pipes, ensuring your home remains sewer gas-free for the future.

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