If a foul sewer odor overwhelms your home, and you can't locate the source of the smell, check the unused or barely used bathrooms in your house. Unused sink traps (p-traps) and drains can dry out and release odors into the house. Sewer odors can be toxic or dangerous, so it's essential that you find the source of the odors and repair it. With this information and tips, you can eliminate the smell in your home now.
Where Does the Odor Come From and Why?
Your sinks use special pipes called p-traps to help water move through their plumbing pipes. The traps can look like the letter "U" or the letter "S." Most homes use U-shaped traps.
Traps connect directly to drains and empty into plumbing pipes. The traps main job is to "collect" or stop sewer odors before they reach your drains. But in order to do this, traps need to hold a small amount of water inside them. The water forms a barrier or seal between the pipes and drains.
If you don't run water down the drain in your sink, the water inside their traps can evaporate and no longer block sewer odors. Instead, the odors begin to pass through the trap and out of the drain. Sewer odors can waffle throughout the home, even in places away from the original source. The overpowering odor makes it difficult to pinpoint the source that caused it.
With a few simple tips, you can try to solve your dilemma.
What You Can Do About the Odor?
First, you'll need to examine your yard to see if the sewer smell didn't come from a broken underground sewer line. Sometimes, sewer pipes break open, collapse, or degrade. Raw sewage can rise from a damaged pipeline and create horrible odors inside and outside the home. Some of your sink drains might back up or release odors.
If a sewer line break did occur outside the house, you may be able to spot it. The soil or dirt might appear wet over the line. Flies and other insects might also frequent the location. Look for the signs mentioned above, then contact a plumber immediately if you find these issues. You can't repair a sewer line without professional help.
If you don't find signs of a broken sewer line, take your inspection into the house. You want to check any bathrooms in the house you might not use regularly, such as the bathrooms in your guest rooms or basement. Examine the drains in your unused sinks. If strong odors rise up from the drains, the traps might lack water.
You can try to fill the traps with water. Simply turn on your hot water taps and allow water to flush out the drain. After a few minutes or so, turn off the tap and wait. If the odors go away, you solved the issue. If the odors remain, you can try cleaning out the traps with 2 or 3 cups of vinegar or bleach and hot water. Bacteria can grow inside the dry traps and add to the foul odor. Cleaning the traps may help remedy this issue.
If the cleaning doesn't help, physically remove the traps and inspect them for clogs. Use a thin brush or rag to clean out the traps, then reconnect the traps to the sink drains. If the odor remains, you'll need to call a plumber for assistance. You might have a clog in the toilet, bathtub, or elsewhere in the home you can't access easily.
To learn more about sink traps and how they affect your unused bathrooms, contact a business such as The Clean Plumbers.
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