My House Smells Like Sewage, What Should I Do? A Florida Tech Answers
December 21, 2020
Smelling sewage in your home is never a good thing—it signals that there’s a problem with your plumbing.
If you smell sewage in your house, you should:
- Try to locate where it’s coming from
- Call a plumber if you can’t fix the issue
- Air out your home
We’ll cover each of these steps in more detail to help you rid your home of unpleasant sewage odors.
Need a plumber ASAP? Call us at (813) 963-3056(Tampa) or (727) 474-8287 (Pinellas) or schedule an appointment online. We’ll send one of our plumbers to your home to diagnose what’s wrong with your plumbing and get your system flowing freely again.
Step #1: Locate where the smell is coming from
Sewage odors mean that sewer gas is leaking into your home from some part of your plumbing.
What causes sewer gas?
Sewer gas leaks can be caused by the following problems:
- Clogged drains
- Dry or loose plumbing
- Improper ventilation
- Cracked or loose sewer pipe
We’ll go over each issue so you know what to look for and how to fix it.
One of the most common causes of sewage smells is a clogged drain. When your home’s wastewater has nowhere to go, the odors will come back up the drain they should be going down.
You can tell if your main sewer drain line is clogged if you notice water backing up in your bathtub or other fixtures when you flush a toilet.
How to fix it: Depending on the size and location of the drain clog, you may need to call in a plumber. Learn more about cost and what’s included in a drain cleaning on our drain cleaning service page.
Dry or loose plumbing
Your plumbing system contains certain features that help seal out gases from your home. If these seals dry out or become loose, that could explain the foul sewage odors you’re smelling.
Check the following seals:
- Water traps: Called P-traps or S-traps, these winding pipes exist below every drain in your house. They’re designed to trap water in the curve, which creates a seal to prevent gases and odors from seeping back into your home. If the water in the trap dries up, there’s nothing keeping the odors at bay. How to fix it: If you notice the smell coming from a particular sink, tub or floor drain, turn on the water and let it run for a few minutes to fill up the trap and restore the water seal. If that doesn’t work, a plumber will need to investigate the issue.
- Toilet wax ring: Your toilet has a wax ring that creates an airtight seal between the toilet bowl base and drain pipe. If the wax dries up or breaks down—which happens over time—the seal cracks, allowing sewer gases into your home. If the wax ring is the problem, your toilet may also feel wobbly or leak water around the base of the toilet. How to fix it: Replace the wax ring, which you can find at any home improvement store. Make sure to completely remove the old ring, otherwise you won’t get an airtight seal. If you’re not comfortable doing the job yourself, hire a plumber.
Plumbing requires airflow to effectively run water through pipes—otherwise you end up with a vacuum where nothing moves.
To ensure proper airflow, every system needs a plumbing vent (also called a plumbing stack), which is a vertical pipe that attaches to the drain line and extends through the roof. This plumbing vent brings fresh air into your plumbing, helping regulate pressure and removing gases and odors.
If your plumbing vent is clogged by debris, sewer gas (and all of its odors) can’t be removed and so filter into your home. A common sign of a blocked plumbing stack is a gurgling toilet.
How to fix it: If you can safely reach your plumbing stack, clear out the debris from the vent. If you’re not comfortable climbing on your roof, call a plumber.
Cracked or loose sewer pipe
If your sewer drain pipe is cracked or has become loose at a joint inside your house, the sewer gas can leak into the walls or ceiling of your home.
How to fix it: Unfortunately, a loose or cracked sewer drain pipe isn’t something you can fix without a plumber’s help. Learn more about our sewer line repair service.
Step #2: Call a plumber
If you’re not able to fix the problem, you’ll need to contact a plumber.
When looking for a plumbing company in Tampa, be sure to choose one that offers:
- 24/7 service. Sewer gas leaks never come at a convenient time, which means you’ll probably need a plumber that can help at any hour of the day. We’re here to help you 24/7.
- Strong guarantees. A quality plumbing company will back their service with guarantees (we have many).
- Good reviews. Based on what other customers say about a plumber, you can get a pretty good idea as to whether you should hire them to handle your sewer gas problem. Check out our reviews on Google.
Call Red Cap Plumbing for help:
- Tampa: (813) 963-3056
- Pinellas: (727) 474-8287
If you call us between 8 AM and 5 PM, we’ll get back to you in just 30 minutes.
Step #3: Air out your home
While you’re waiting for your plumber to arrive, open doors and windows to help expel the gas from your home.
Why? We’ll explain.
Is sewer gas dangerous?
Sewer gas is a mixture of various gases—some toxic and some non-toxic—that develop from decaying household and industrial waste in a sewer system. Most residential sewer lines contain gases found in air (oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, etc.), but sewer gas can also include more toxic gases like:
- Hydrogen sulfide (where the rotten egg smell comes from)
- Carbon monoxide
- Sulfur dioxide
- Nitrogen oxides
While sewer gas isn’t toxic at low levels, exposure over a long time or at high levels can cause various symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, nausea or dizziness. Open windows and doors to improve circulation and help vent these gases from your home.
Plus, since sewer gas contains methane and hydrogen sulfide—both of which are highly flammable substances—the gas could potentially ignite with a flame or spark.
Need help getting rid of sewer odors? Call a Tampa plumber.
Contact us 24/7 online or at (813) 963-3056 (Tampa) or (727) 474-8287 (Pinellas). We’ll send one of our plumbers to thoroughly inspect your plumbing and diagnose the issue, so we can get you back to an odor-free home.
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