When any room in your house, including your bathroom, smells like a sewer, you should become very concerned.
Sewer smells can possibly indicate the presence of sewer gases in your house, which can be lethal to anyone exposed to the gases.
Rather than just ignoring the offensive odor, you need to investigate the cause yourself, or call a drain plumber in Wilmington for help.
If you choose to work on the problem yourself, wear a respirator to avoid breathing in the gases. Sewer gases can contain a number of different types of gases, some of which can be very harmful.
Methane present in sewer gases not only makes the gases highly flammable, potentially leading to an explosion or sudden fire, but the methane also decreases the amount of oxygen in the air. The lack of oxygen might cause someone to pass out, or even worse die of asphyxiation.
Hydrogen sulfide might also be present in sewer gases, which can lead to a person’s respiratory system or eyes becoming irritated. If exposed to high levels of hydrogen sulfide, a person can pass out immediately and die.
Sewer gas smells might be coming from a dry trap, or the curving portion of the drainpipe found under each plumbing fixture in your house.
Dry traps happen when you do not regularly run water down a plumbing fixture’s drain.
The trap is designed to hold water inside the pipe, creating a block against the sewer gases in the pipes below. If you have a shower or toilet nobody uses regularly, try to run water down the drain every two or three weeks.
When you go on an extended vacation, pour mineral oil down the drains, since it evaporates at a slower rate than water.
Leaking connections at either end of a plumbing fixture’s trap piece allow the water to leak out of the trap. Damage on the trap piece itself can also lead to a dry trap, meaning you must remove the broken trap and replace it with a replica.
With toilets, you can see the curving trap in the base of the toilet. If the porcelain around the trap breaks, causing water to leak out of the trap, your only choice is to replace the toilet.
Sewer gases might also come into your house through the plumbing vent pipes. The vent pipes connect to the drainpipes behind the walls and under the floors in your house.
Unlike the drainpipes, the vent pipes run up through the attic and the roof, stopping above the house’s roof line.
Sewer gases in the drainpipes can escape through the vent pipes, unless a clog in the pipes is stopping the flow of sewer gases. You can check for clogs from your house’s roof, on a day that is clear and not windy.
If you cannot reach any clogs using tools, you can spray water down the pipes to force the clogs free.
A second possibility is that one of the vent pipes was damaged by a drill, saw or nail and so is allowing sewer gases to come into your house.
Plumbers have special devices that send manufactured smoke through the house’s vent pipes, allowing them to detect and repair damaged sections without tearing into the floors and walls in your house unnecessarily.
Finally, biological slime can grow in sink, bathtub and shower drains, causing a smell that can be similar to sewer gases.
The slime is caused by soap, shampoo, skin oils and hair sticking to the sides of the drain over an extended period of time.
Bacteria breeds in the slime, causing the stench to flare up each time you run water down the drain. You must remove any stoppers or drain covers, run hot water down the drain, and then scrub it with soap and a large bottle brush to remove the slime and get rid of the smell.
If you suspect a sewer problem, call on the professionals at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Wilmington DE to help you out.