Western Springs Plumbing

Plumbing repair in Western Springs IL

Sewer Smells

As our homes age the stack, sewer and other pipes can wear out,  also toilet wax rings may need to be replaced and since we cannot see these things they usually come as a surprise. The result is that your sewer smells.  This rotten egg smell or sewer gas smell is the first sign of a plumbing issue and it should be looked into.  Many times it is a small problem but other times it is a sign of a bigger problem like a broken sewer or vent stack.

When your sewer smells, it is actually hydrogen sulfide.   Hydrogen sulfide is a flammable, colorless gas with a characteristic smell of rotten eggs.  Its cause in residential homes is decaying organic matter – usually sewage – and only occurs if there is problem with the homes drainage or vent system. Sewer gas is bad for your health.  Continued exposure can cause serious health problems and even death.

Sewer gas causes health issues such as fatigue, pneumonia, loss of appetite, headaches, irritability, poor memory, and dizziness, but these symptoms often get overlooked or the cause is thought to be from something else.

Customers often call complaining about a sewer smell. Plumbers can sometimes find the problem easily and other times there is no quick answer or fix.  They need to determine the cause and it can be many different things, it is a matter of being a bit of a detective and sometimes this can take some time. Sometimes it is a matter of just putting water into a floor drain (floor drains have a water seal which can evaporate) and other times we need to search for the problem.

Plumbers use several methods to determine the cause of the smell, the first method is a visual inspection of the stack or vent pipes (although usually these are enclosed behind the walls of the home), floor drains, toilets etc. are all checked.  Another method is a smoke test which is done if the smell may be coming from a broken sewer or an old stack pipe.  A video camera on a cable can also be used to see inside broken or cracked pipes. Once the problem is found and the broken or deteriorated pipe repaired the smell and danger goes away immediately.

If your sewer smells, you need to take this problem very seriously; the health consequences can be very detrimental.  It can happen in any home but is more likely to happen in older homes.