sewage smell - lady holding her nose

Why Do I Smell Sewage In My House? Here are 4 Reasons!

A sewage smell in the house is never a good sign and is almost always related to a plumbing problem.

A rotten egg smell is not to be taken lightly. Sewer gases can cause severe health ailments, including headaches, memory loss, poisoning, and asphyxiation. If the problem is severe enough, it could cause a house fire or even an explosion. If you believe you may have a sewer gas leak, contact a professional immediately.

Sewage Smell in House: 4 Common Sources

Residential plumbing systems direct naturally occurring hydrogen sulfide out of your house through a vent system. So you might have a leak in your plumbing system if the gases are coming in through your bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room.

If air fresheners and bathroom fans are not covering up the smell, it’s time to do some investigating. The most logical culprit would be your toilet, but there are a few more common suspects that may be omitting the ominous smell.

1. Check Your Traps

Firstly, there should always be water in your traps; the water forms a seal from which odors (or gasses) can’t come back through the pipe and into the home. The water traps located under your floor drains, laundry tubs, or washbasins can cause a funky odor if they are dry. So check to make sure the water in your traps hasn’t evaporated if your drains haven’t been used in a while.

P-traps also hold water to prevent methane gas from entering your home. If you smell any type of rotten smell, something is wrong.

One easy fix is to pour a quart of water down each of your drains. If that doesn’t get rid of the odor, you may have an old or leaky trap and it’s time to call a professional.

What is a trap primer diagram of of plumbing P trap
This diagram shows how water at the bottom of the trap keeps odors and gasses from coming back into the seal. The water literally creates an air-tight seal.

2. Toilet Wax Ring

A wax ring is placed where your toilet attaches to the ground. It helps seal the toilet’s connection to the drain and prevents water and gases from leaking out. Over time, it’s normal for the ring to wear down, which may be the reason you’re experiencing a sewage smell in the house.

Another issue could be that the seal on your toilet is slipping due to anchor bolts not being attached properly. Either way, if a sewer smell is coming up from your toilet, have a plumber go over each area of the fixture.

How to replace a toilet wax ring - place seal into flange
This is a typical toilet wax ring that sits atop the drain. The flange (with two anchor bolts) it’s resting on then connects the floor to the toilet. Everything is now sealed.

3. Sewer or Septic Pipe Leaks

The smell may also be coming from damage to the sewer itself. Tree roots, grease, or un-flushable items such as baby wipes and diapers could be clogging your sewer line. Sewer gas may be leaking from breaks in the pipe itself from rust, corrosion, or a blockage.

If you believe the sewage smell is coming from your main sewer line, call a plumber to do a camera inspection. This will help locate the exact point of the leak and decide the best course of action such as hydro jetting or replacing the pipe.

diagram gas line running through sewer - sewage smell in house
Although it might seem odd, there are instances where a natural gas pipe runs through your main sewer line. This can cause a big problem because clogs are more difficult to remove. If the sewer line isn’t regularly maintained, backups can occur with sewer gas being emitted into the house.

4. Roof Vent Pipes

Similar to your drain traps, the vent system in your home makes sure bad gases stay out. Vents also help regulate the pressure in your plumbing system. If your drain trap has blockages and your home doesn’t have a proper vent, you could be facing some serious unsafe conditions.

To avoid any issues, keep roof vent pipes clear of leaves, animal nests, and ice/snow. Vents may also fail you if they’re located in the wrong place, have loose fittings, or corrosion.

sewage smell in house caused by blocked plumbing vent on room
A plumbing vent is perhaps the most important piece of your plumbing. It allows gases to safely leave the home. However, a blocked vent can contribute to the smell of sewage in the home. They should be checked regularly, as even a snow or ice storm can block them.

When Should You Call a Plumber?

If you have drains overflowing, backing up, and/or gurgling, you most likely have a sewer backup causing the sewage smell throughout your home. Floods, tree roots, or pipe breakage are the main causes of a sewer backup and require the knowledge of a plumber immediately.

If you smell rotten eggs in your home, you don’t need to evacuate the building. But while it’s not probably as urgent as the above, you should call a plumber sooner than later.

leaves in drains - van and plumber
Using special equipment and our experience detecting sewage smells in houses, emergency plumbers can quickly determine the cause.


Call 1-Tom-Plumber

Don’t hesitate to contact us here or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237) if you smell sewage in the house. This is can be a serious and unhealthy situation. We can determine whether it is from tree roots on your property, the city sewer system, or some other issue.

1-Tom-Plumber’s certified team of plumbers and drain technicians respond immediately to any emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, or water damage problem. We also handle the excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines. Our immediate-response team is available every day and night of the year, even on holidays.

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