Most people will have air fresheners in their bathroom to keep it smelling clean. Sometimes candles are lit or fragrances are open to make sure there is a pleasant smell.
Unfortunately, there may be a time that you have a sewer smell and it is important to find the cause. What do you do if your bathroom smells like sewage? There are a few areas to check; the shower drain, the Jacuzzi tub, the sink, and the toilet. If there is gurgling noise in the sink and toilet drains and the water smells, you may have a bigger issue with the sewer system.
Taking a look at these three areas will give you an idea of where the smell is coming from. Addressing it right away is important because the methane gases from the sewer are highly flammable and can cause health problems.
Why This is Important
The smell of sewer is not a fragrance we want to be around or breathe in daily. Smelling sewer in the home means there is an issue in the shower with the drain, a vent pipe that is cut or not installed properly on the toilet, or seals that are broken or loose. Finally, a build-up in the overflow of the sink can also cause this smell. If you investigate all these areas and still have the smell, you will need to call a professional.
Bathroom Smells Like Sewage- Causes
1. The Shower Drain
When we shower, it is to clean the dirt off our bodies. However, did you know that the products we use can cause a biofilm to form? Do you see an orange or pink film? If yes, this could be causing the shower drain to make the bathroom smell like sewage. Cleaning this biofilm is important as it is bacteria.
How to Clean the Biofilm When Bathroom Smells Like Sewage
- Take the cover off the drain with a screwdriver
- Take a paint roller cover and dip it into hot water and then disinfectant
- Stick the paint roller in the drain and spin it around to get the film off
- Repeat as necessary putting the cover into the hot water and disinfectant
2. The Jacuzzi Tub
If you have a Jacuzzi tub, you may notice black flakes coming out of it. This could also be due to biofilm, just like you find in the shower as mentioned above. Take a look at this link to find out the process for cleaning it out.
In the sink, there can be a buildup of guck and mildew and makes the bathroom smell like sewage. Fix this by:
1.Use ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of distilled white vinegar
2.Pour these in the drain
3.Put a stopper over the concoction and keep it there for 30 minutes while a foam forms.
4.Once 30 minutes is up, take the stopper out and use a plunger.
5.Create a seal with the plunger and move it up and down several times to try to get the clog out
6.Then, run warm water in the drain for a couple of minutes.
7.Repeat the steps of the plunger and the water if the clog remains.
If the clog remains, contact a professional to help.
The P –Trap is Dry, Dirty, or Missing and the Bathroom Smells like Sewage
The P-trap is the U- shape pipe under the sink. If the P-trap becomes dry, it is because the water evaporated from the shower. Fix this by running water for a few minutes to allow it to fill up. If the P trap is dirty, it is not holding water and allowing the hydrogen sulfide gases to escape. If the P trap is missing, replace it or call a professional to do this.
4. The Toilet
Bathroom still smells like sewage after checking shower drain, Jacuzzi tub, and sink? Then check the toilet next. The toilet may have an improperly installed or cut vent pipe in the walls if you smell sewage. The vent pipe sends the odors out of the home but if it is cut or improperly installed, it could be sending the odor back into the bathroom. You don’t want this to carry on for long and need to call a professional.
If you look at the toilet and there is water pooling next to it, it can be loose or broken seals or more caulking is needed.
5. Seals Broken or Loose
The toilet attaches to the drain with seals. If they are broken or loose, they will allow sewer gases into the home. If the seals are leaking water around the toilet, bacteria grows and creates a yucky smell.
The wax ring seals the toilet to the pipes, so if it is broken or missing, this can cause foul odors and important to fix. You can do it yourself but it is a good idea to contact a professional, as it involves removing the entire toilet.
Caulking at the base of the toilet is important to make sure it is connected to the floor. However, some professionals don’t think it is a good idea, while others say it is essential. If caulk is missing there can be a sewer smell that comes up from the floor if there is a separation between the floor and the toilet. If you do need to add caulk, make sure you leave a little open in the front and back areas at the base of the toilet for drainage when cleaning the floor or if there is a water leak
6. Gurgling of the Toilet or the Sink
If you hear the gurgling of the toilet or sink and it is yucky water, it could be a sewer issue. This is not something for a homeowner to mess with and you need to call in a professional. A professional will come to the home and do a sewer scope inspection.
The inspection only takes a few minutes and involves turning off the water in the home. Then, the inspector will turn it on and flush out the system and allow the sewer scope camera to float through and take pictures of cracks, clogs, what the material of the line is, and if there are tree roots growing through the line. The inspection costs about $100- $250 depending on the location of the home.
7. Air Admittance Valves & Plumbing Vents
The gurgling of the toilet or sink could also be a clogged plumbing vent. The purpose of the plumbing vent is to provide a backflow of air into the plumbing system and release sewer gases outside your home. If the vent is cut or installed improperly, it won’t allow the sewer gases out and you can have gurgling of water. In fact, gurgling of the sink or toilet is an obvious sign. Plumbing vents allow fresh water into the system and for water to flow smoothly through the drain pipes and get the gas and odors out of the home.
Every home needs at least one plumbing vent that goes to the outside. However, instead of having many in the home, some people choose to use air admittance valves instead. Not every state allows these to be used so check with the building codes in your state. Here in Florida, they are allowed according to 2014 FBC Plumbing Guide . Like with everything mechanical, these can fail. The most common place for air admittance valves is underneath your sink. Check under your sink for sewer smells if you believe it is an air admittance valve.
When to Call a Professional
Call a professional when you need help diagnosing the problem or if you find the problem is more than you can handle. As mentioned above, if your issue is gurgling of the toilet or sink, then a sewer inspection needs to be done by a professional.
Sewer smell in the bathroom is unpleasant and can be harmful so start investigating as soon as you smell it. There are a few areas to check as mentioned above and if you aren’t comfortable fixing them or need help to diagnose and fix, please leave us a note below so we can help!