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Plumbing Odor Q's & A's

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Basement smell

I have a sewer smell in my basement. Whenever I open the main trap, I feel a wind blowing and a smell coming out of it. It seems that this smell is permeating the basement. How do I fix this ?

It seems to me that you have an old "house trap" in your basement, which is part of the drainage system. Since this is an old system (no longer legal), I can only assume that you have cast iron piping. If so, this type of piping has a habit of forming a crack along the top side of the pipe over time, and this could be where your smell is coming from. I would suggest you inspect every inch of piping for cracks or openings where the smell is coming from, and then make the repair from there. If an entire length of pipe is cracked (quite common), you should replace it using PVC drain pipe of the same size, and no-hub couplers to fit the pipe into place. You will have to cut the old pipe off with a sawzall (be prepared for a MESS), and make sure that nobody uses any water when you do this.

Stinky smell in the house

What kind of thoughts can you give me as to the cause of the following problem? Every once in a while the inside of my house smells horrible. It is kind of like a sulfur/egg smell. My septic tank was emptied and inspected about 8 months ago. Aerator works fine too. I have made sure all the drain traps aren't drying up. I have lived here about a year and didn't have the problem until about 3 months ago. We have had a lot of rain/snow during this trouble period, could that contribute to the cause?The smell lasts about a week and suddenly goes away as quickly as it came. Any ideas???

Well the septic is one thought, but you have checked the likely spots. Do you have any drains you may have missed like in the basement floor (although that would not likely go to the septic tank)

Another thought is products of combustion.. your furnace do you have an oil furnace? While they are not likely to smell like sulfur.... Also what about you cars.. attached garage? Do you warm them up close to the house or in the garage? What about any close neighbor.

In extremely cold weather the vent stack  can freeze shut. It has to get very cold for this.


Sink odors

Here is my problem, the sink in my upstairs bathroom smells when we run the water, I tried to put a little liquid draino in but that didn't work, do you have any suggestions?

I would like to add that I did try the baking soda and vinegar thing, and that doesn't seem to work either.

It sounds like your problem may involve the drain and vent. Specifically, the trap under the basin may not be holding enough water and is allowing sewer fumes into the room. Suggest you check your trap and be sure it holds water. It is also possible that the over flow on the basin needs cleaning. This is accomplished by completely filling the basin to the point of running over and then adding a disinfectant such as bleach or pine oil(About 1/4 cup). Run a bit more water until the disinfectant is pushed through. It may take a couple of treatments to effectively remedy the odor.


Bad Odor from Washer

When the washing machine is first turned on there is a horrible odor that comes from it. Is it the washer or the drain? It smells like sewer gas and it has been going on for a least a year. No other drain has an odor. I thought maybe it could be old water setting inside the washer some where. I smell it just when the washer is first turned on.

Check the trap. There should be one on the drain line. If there isn't one visible, and it is in the wall, pull the drain hose out of the drain and smell the drain. There should be no smell. Pour some water in there, and smell it again. If the smell stops, then what may be happening, is the action of some other drain in your house could be sucking the water from this trap due to poor venting in its line. If the smell doesn't stop, then there probably is no trap there at all.   The trap should remain full of water to prevent the sewer gas from coming out the drain line.

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Sewer Gas Smell

Whenever the wind blows (which is almost all the time) we get a strong sewer smell on the north & east sides of the house. The drain vents are on the north side of the roof. The wind blows from the south & west. This smell started as soon as we connected up to the subdivision sewer line, before we were in the house or had started using the plumbing. We've tried extending the vent pipes so that they are about 18" long now. That didn't help.

You can get a filter for the vent line. They work to eliminate the odor, yet still allow the vent to work. Unfortunately raising the vent did not do the trick of getting the wind to carry away the odor. The gases are heavier than air, and probably the shape of your house and the direction of the wind carried the gases down.

Odor from dishwasher

Our Kenmore dishwasher, when reaching the drying cycle, is giving off a very strong odor that lies somewhere between the smells of rotten eggs and kerosene.
Where do we start?

Do you live in the country and have a well? If you have even a small amount of sulfur in your water, it will smell to high heaven when extremely hot, as in a dishwasher in it's drying cycle. Have your water tested.
I have a very small amount in mine, and under normal circumstances I don't smell it at all, but if I let only the hot water run until it peaks out, I can smell it until I add cold to it.

BAD smell coming from bathroom...

There is a very bad odor coming from my bathroom that I have not been able to locate. It is a strong, musty, dank smell that I have only detected in humid weather. It disappears in colder weather. It seems to be coming from outside of the toilet, around the base, not inside the toilet.

Does your toilet tank and bowl sweat a lot in the humid weather? It could be the sweat is dripping and wetting the floor around the toilet causing mold/mildew to grow. It could also be a small leak on the seal between the bowl and the pipe below. Is there a ceiling below that you can check for leakage?

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