Quality Plumbing Services

What Causes Sewer Odors and How Can They Be Prevented?

June 7, 2017 · No Comments

As plumbers, two of the most difficult things we deal with are sewer smells and mystery leaks. Both are very difficult to locate and both can be very difficult to correct. I want to give you a few simple tips you can look for if dealing with a sewer odor and what you can do to possibly correct it yourself without spending a whole lot of time and money.


Sewer odor and gases are always present in the sewer system and cannot be eliminated. That is why there are provisions in the plumbing code to insure that vent pipes and p-traps are installed at all fixtures throughout your home or building. The vent systems are designed to carry odor out through the roof; while traps provide a water seal and prevent gases from coming back into the house.


Some of the most common causes of sewer gases and odor entering houses are:

- Basement floor drains that have dried out. Floor drains (and all fixtures) should have water in the p-traps. The water is what provides the seal preventing sewer gas and odor from entering the home.

- Seldom used fixtures such as a shower, toilet, or sink may also have a dry p-trap.

- Clean-out plugs missing or improperly installed.

- Ejector pump lid improperly sealed.

- Partial obstructed or blocked sewer. If you notice your toilets gurgling or irregular water level in the bowl, this could be a sign of a more serious sewer problem.

- Cracked or corroded vent piping. This is the most difficult condition to locate because much of the vent piping is behind walls.


Visually check these conditions and pour water into any unused drains; your problem may be as simple as a dry trap. You would be surprised how many sewer odor problems can be eliminated just by refilling the p-traps.


Keep in mind that atmospheric conditions can have an affect on when you may get odor inside the house. When barometric pressure is low or falling, the air outside is heavier than air in the sewer system and any openings in the sewer system will discharge sewer gas or odors.

If odor problems continue, you may have a more complicated issue. In which case, you may need professional help.


Quality Plumbing Services can perform a smoke test on your drain and vent system. We conduct this test using a smoke generator to pressurize your entire plumbing system and pinpoint any leaks or breeches in your vent piping, even behind walls. This process is safe and harmless to you and your family; the smoke is similar to what you might see at a nightclub or haunted house or used for special effects.


Quality Plumbing Services can also completely check the sewer system using our state-of-the-art video inspection equipment. Power rodding can clear an obstructed or partially obstructed sewer which could eliminate the source of a sewer odor. If you are having an issue with a sewer smell, please contact Quality Plumbing Services at 630-227-0200 or 847-259-0200 and schedule an appointment today!

Tags: Home Remedies

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