Your home’s sewers are connected to your house through a system of drains and pipes. Usually these pipes have water inside them which creates a seal that prevents sewer gas from leaking into your home. However, sometimes sewer gas finds its way into the house through these pipes. If this happens, don’t panic. You may be able to fix the problem without incurring a big bill.
P-traps are a type of pipe that have been cleverly named because the shape of the pipe resembles a letter P on its side. There may be many drains in your home, and all of them are connected to your sewer via a pipe connected to a P-trap. Water sits inside the P-trap, and prevents the sewer gas from leaking into the home.
Water evaporates with time. When the water in the P-trap evaporates, sewer gas can leak straight into your home. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix to this problem: just fill the P-trap with water again.
To do this, walk around your home with a pitcher of water and pour water down every drain you can find. Showers, bathtubs and sinks that see regular use probably have water in the P-trap already. However, guest showers, basement utility sinks and even unused toilets may need water in the P-trap. Flush any unused toilets. Pour water down floor drains and unused sinks and bathtub drains. Next, air out the smelly part of your home. The smell should go away.
You can prevent this from happening again by using all your sinks and bathtubs on a regular basis. Some people recommend pouring a few table spoons of oil into floor drains, to prevent the water from evaporating so quickly.
Every floor drain has a cleanout plug, which provides a direct path from the drain to the sewer. If this plug is missing, the area around the drain will quickly fill with sewer gas.
To fix this problem, pull up the drain cover from the drain. There’ll be two holes inside the drain bowl, and one of them should have a plug fitted inside of it. If the plug is missing, that’s where the sewer gas is coming from. Fortunately, drain plugs can easily be purchased at a home improvement center or hardware store. To fix the problem, simply purchase a drain cover and plug the hole.
If this doesn’t fix the problem, there’s a small possibility that the wax ring on your toilet has deteriorated and is allowing sewer gas to escape into your home.
Check all the toilets in your home. If any of your toilets seems loose or unbalanced, this is an indication that the wax ring needs to be replaced. Replacing the wax ring beneath the toilet is a relatively simple process and can be handled by most DIYers without trouble. For more instruction, check out this instructional YouTube video:
If this doesn’t solve your problem, your sewer could be experiencing a more serious problem that should be addressed right away. Residents of the Pittsburgh area experiencing problems with their sewer can call Terry’s Plumbing for help.