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I Have a Septic Odor In My House

I Have a Septic Odor In My House

Septic odors inside the house are annoying and sometimes can be hard to locate. An odor inside typically does not mean that your septic tank needs to be pumped, but are more often an indication of a plumbing problem. Weather can also play a part. “Heavy air” days produce odors which are more noticeable than “light air” days.

One very common problem is the drying out of a trap in a basement floor drain or unused toilets, sinks, and showers. The water is used as a seal to keep gases from the septic tank from entering into the home. This can be corrected by making sure all unused drain traps are periodically filled with water. It’s also possible the cleanout access plug inside a drain may be loose and could allow for sewer gas to escape. A professional that provides line cleaning could check this out.

Another common problem is the plumbing vent located on the roof. It is necessary to allow the pressure in the drainpipes to equalize as wastewater flows through them. Without this vent, sinks, tubs, and toilets would gurgle, and in some cases, the toilets and drains would act like they were plugged. These plumbing vents can freeze closed during prolonged cold periods or get clogged with leaves or other debris. A warm day or two will thaw out the frozen pipe but leaves will need to be cleaned out. The pipe can be thawed using a high pressure water jetter used for cleaning sewers or warm water.

Down drafts from wind pattern changes can also create odors in the home. The vent may need to be raised which can be accomplished by just adding onto the existing pipe. (Always take special precautions when working on a slippery or steep roof!)

A dried out wax seal on a toilet is a common source for odors in the bathroom. This can be corrected by pulling the toilet and having a new wax seal installed. If a ceramic tile floor has been installed and the toilet flange has not been raised, two seals may have to be stacked on top of each other to properly seal the gap from raising the floor.

We suggest checking all exposed plumbing, toilet seals, and under sinks for holes and joints for tightness. Once this is done, if the odor persists, smoke can be “blown” into the drain lines. The places where you see smoke escaping means odors can escape as well. These areas will need to be repaired. The majority of the time it is a bad toilet seal. Check this first. It could save you lots of time and frustration!

If you have question regarding septic odors in your home, give us a call. We may be able to help determine the source.




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  • Melissa
    February 17, 2016, 8:00 pm REPLY

    I have a very peculiar smell, almost like sour, rotten coffee grinds in my home. Ive refinished all floors, painted all walls, and cleaned the house from top to bottom. Nothing has touched the smell. Could a smell like thst ever be associated with septic? Its definitely not a sewage smell, but im desperately looking for answers. I have two air tests done which came up with nothing. Thanks!

    • james@Melissa
      May 9, 2017, 11:47 am REPLY

      Melissa I have the same issue. Did you ever figure out what the source was?

  • Mike Credit
    February 29, 2016, 3:24 pm REPLY

    I have a septic odor in my basement. I just had the tank pumped and I replete the toilet gasket. I also checked the roof vent. Yet the odor persists. What else can I do.

    • Keith@Mike Credit
      December 31, 2016, 4:40 pm REPLY

      I’ve lived in my home here in rural VA for almost 20 yrs now. All of a sudden last week, I noticed a VERY strong sewer like smell in my basement. And eventually it seeped into the middle floor. So I read many different articles about this problem, And almost every one mentioned the P-trap in the basement drain. And how if the water evaporated from this P-trap, it would allow sewer gas to enter the house. So I about a gallon of water into the drain. Then left the house all day. Happy to report that there was no smell when I came back.

      (This reason makes sense to me because you figure all of your P-traps in your sinks and toilets constantly get "refreshed" every time you use them. My basement drain never experienced a flood. (Knock on wood. LOL!) So why hadn’t this happened before? When I first bought this house the old HVAC system had a drainage problem when the A/C was running. So I geri-rigged a tube from the HVAC to the basement drain to get rid of the water. But after the new HVAC system was installed, I never had too. And this year I had a basement duct installed in the basement where the drain is located. So when the heat in the house is on, the warm air helped the water in the P-trap evaporate. So if once every 2 months I have to pour a 1/2 gallon of water in the drain to keep this issue from happening, then that’s a no brainer. LOL)

      So I’m hoping this was the reason for my issue. And I hope this helps you and others.
      Best of luck!

  • Misty
    July 6, 2016, 6:31 pm REPLY

    We had our septic tank pumed out 2 months ago. I smell bad bad odor in my bathroom it is real bad when i flush my toilet or wash clothes. I have 2 bathrooms but its only this one bathroom that smells like a sewer line what do i fo?

    • Judy@Misty
      May 20, 2018, 10:31 pm REPLY

      Septic tank pumped out now the bathroom closest to septic smells like a sewer? Help please.

  • Kay Fishel
    August 7, 2016, 2:32 pm REPLY

    I just started getting septic oderes in my house when I do the laundry. I don’t live in my home and do laundry there 3 times a week

  • Diana McCauley
    September 16, 2016, 9:09 pm REPLY

    I have a bad odor in my house under my bathroom and kitchen sinks, doesn’t smell like sewer, smell sour in one bathroom, smells like dirt in the other, smell under kitchen sink also.

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