What Causes Sewer Odors Inside the House?

Have you noticed a noxious sewer smell inside your home? Sewer gases contain methane and bacteria that may be dangerous to the health and safety of your family. Plus, no one wants to live with nasty sewer odors inside the house. Keep reading to learn about where those awful scents are coming from—and what to do if they creep into your home.

man holding his nose due to bad odors

Common Sources of Sewer Odors Inside the House

All plumbing fixtures (sinks, toilets, showers, drains, etc.) are part of a larger home plumbing system that connects all of your fixtures through a network of pipes—with vents and traps at each drain site. This system is designed to safely carry wastewater out to the public sewer and provide a barrier that prevents sewer gases from getting in. If you are detecting foul sewer odors inside the house, this means that there is a weak link somewhere in your plumbing system. Possible sources include bathroom sink drains, toilets, kitchen drains, basement drains, old cast iron piping, or even the vent stack that goes out through your roof.

So What Exactly Is Causing that Funky Smell to Get In?

Essentially, any drain or vent pipe could be the weak link. In most cases, you can simply follow your nose to the source of the problem. Here are five of the most common plumbing problems that allow sewer odors inside the house.

  • Lack of proper drain traps or vent pipes. Every fixture should have a “P-trap” that holds water in a “U” shape that creates a seal, as well as a vent system that equalizes air pressure and allows sewer gases to escape outside. DIY plumbers sometimes skip this step.
  • Dry trap. This is a very common culprit of sewer odors inside the house. It typically occurs in rarely used drains, such as the basement drain or guest bathroom shower.
  • Broken seals around the toilet. Check for air leaks in the wax ring around your toilet by wobbling the toilet bowl to make sure it’s tightly sealed to the floor.
  • Clogged vents. Have a professional plumber inspect all of the vent pipes inside your house to make sure the vent stack isn’t clogged.
  • Broken sewer lateral pipe or vent stack. Old cast iron pipes are especially prone to cracking. Call a professional plumber or sewer specialist to come out and inspect the lines.

Identifying Sewer Gas Smells

Another funky smell you may experience in your home is the sewer gas smell. Here are some useful tips that will help you get rid of those funky sewer gas odors coming in from your bathroom, kitchen, or basement drains. First, identify what’s causing the sewer gas smells to enter your home. Click here for info on potential causes. Then, try the following tips to help eliminate them.

  • Make sure all plumbing fixtures are installed correctly with the proper P-traps and vents. Also, check your drain traps to make sure they hold enough water. Call a professional plumber to ensure proper fixture installation.
  • Pour a gallon of hot, boiling water down any drains that are rarely used, such as the basement drain or guest bathroom shower. This should help eliminate odors caused by dry traps.
  • If the smell is coming from the bathroom sink, try pouring a strong cleaner down the sink’s overflow hole to remove any odor-causing debris. Be careful of what cleaners you use, you don’t want to risk damaging the finish of your sink or drain assembly.
  • Carefully re-install the wax rings around your toilet(s), which may have become old or worn, allowing sewer gasses to seep through.
  • Call a professional plumber to disconnect the vent pipes inside your home and clean your vents all the way through the roof. This will remove any clogs and ensure that sewer gases are able to exit your home.
  • Have a professional plumber inspect for and replace any cracked vent stacks or sewer lateral pipes with new PVC piping.

Need help getting rid of those pesky sewer gas smells? Contact the professionals at Tony LaMartina Plumbing Company. Our experienced plumbers are experts in solving residential plumbing problems of all kinds. We will quickly diagnose the issue and provide sound solutions at a fair price.

How do I get rid of the sewer smell in my house?

Since you can’t likely be sure what is causing the sewer smell, it is best to hire a professional to fully inspect and diagnose the problem. The solution could be as simple as replacing the wax ring on the toilet or a more in-depth septic line repair. Either way, an experienced plumber can remedy the issue and rid your home of the awful smell.

In the meantime, a short-term solution would be to run water through any infrequently used shower drains. This will help prevent the sewer gasses from getting in. If you are comfortable, you can also clean your drains with warm water, soap, and a large brush to eliminate biofilm.

What steps can I take to prevent this smell from reoccurring?

Although there are some issues you cannot prevent, such as wear and tear on your plumbing system, you can make several adjustments to help prevent the gas issue from coming back into your home.

Determine the location of the plumbing traps throughout your home, especially those that are seldom used. Once you know their locations, run water through the drains on a regular basis. This will keep water in all of the traps throughout your home.

Debris, hair, and other substances can clog up your drains and cause a putrid smell. You can regularly clean them out using a small hook connected to a wire or a drain snake. If these are not long enough to clear out the debris, you may need to have them professionally snaked.

Are you experiencing smelly sewer odors inside the house? If you are in St. Louis, contact us. At Tony LaMartina Plumbing Company, our experienced plumbers are experts in solving residential plumbing problems of all kinds. We will quickly diagnose the issue and provide sound solutions at a fair price.

To learn more call our office at (314) 501-9950 or contact us online.