The smell of sewage is an extremely unpleasant thing to experience, especially when you can smell it within your own home. Sewage odors are able to enter into your home through a variety of different pathways in your home's plumbing system. Understanding the various ways that bad smells can seep into your home can help you identify the source of your odors and eliminate their cause as soon as possible.
One of the most common avenues for the smell of sewage to enter your home is through seldom used drains. This is because the P-trap, which is a curved pipe immediately underneath your drain, usually has water in it that blocks gases from moving back up your pipes. If you rarely use those drains, that water can evaporate, and the smell of sewage can quickly enter your home. Fortunately, this is pretty simple to fix: all you have to do is turn the water on for a few minutes to refill the P-trap.
In a very similar vein to the above point, your drains may emit an extremely pungent smell even if the P-trap is full if bacteria has taken hold of the drain. This is much more common in kitchen drains, where food is likely to enter the drain at some point, providing bacteria with an ideal breeding ground, though it can happen in any drain under the right conditions. Running water down your drain won't eliminate the smell – instead, you'll have to use an antibacterial cleaning agent. Vinegar works well if you are looking for an all-natural option, but bleach will be the most effective against the strongest odors. Keep in mind that you will likely have to apply your cleaning solution multiple times to effectively eliminate the bacteria population and the associated smell.
Damaged Wax Ring
Your toilet sits on an open pipe, called a flange, which is sealed by a wax ring that blocks out sewer gases and water from leaking into your bathroom. However, that wax ring can dry out and structurally degrade over time, which can then let the smell of sewage seep into your bathroom. To tell if your wax ring has become damaged, try shaking your toilet side to side. If the wax ring is in good condition, the toilet shouldn't shift at all, but if the base is shaking, you'll likely have to unscrew the toilet and install a new wax ring. They are available at most hardware stores, and simply need to be pressed into place before you screw the toilet in on top of it.
For more information about water main repair, contact a local plumber.
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