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Smell Sewer Gas in Your House? Try This DIY Remedy Before Calling a Plumber

Updated on January 02, 2017

What to Do if Sewer Gas Invades Your Home

If you smell a noxious sewer-like odor inside your home, chances are it is sewer gas escaping from the drainage system. Not only does it smell gross, but the methane and bacteria it contains can be dangerous to your health, causing headaches or even more serious ailments. Even scarier, high concentrations of methane gas are combustible, which can cause an explosion. If you notice this distinctive, foul odor, do not ignore it.

Possible Causes for the Sewer Smell:

  • sewer back-up
  • leaks from rotted or cracked drain pipes
  • a clogged drain
  • loose-fitting pipe connections
  • a stopped-up or too-short vent pipe
  • toilet's wax ring is old
  • a dry trap

Before you call the plumber, however, there are some simple DIY actions that may eliminate the problem quickly at little or no cost. Below, you'll find out how to get rid of the smell of sewer gas emitting from a shower drain due to a dry trap or a mild clog.

Plumbing fixtures and their connecting systems that are correctly designed and installed are normally odorless. However, even the best plumbing may sometimes allow sewer gas into your home due to a simple problem that can be easily checked…and simply solved. If the problem persists, then it’s time to call in the professional—a plumber.

What you'll need: White vinegar, baking soda, bleach, mineral oil, and hot water.
What you'll need: White vinegar, baking soda, bleach, mineral oil, and hot water.

DIY Shower Drain Sewer Smell Removal

  1. Use a screwdriver to remove the trap.
  2. Pour one cup of white vinegar into the drain.
  3. Follow with 1/4 cup baking soda.
  4. Let that sit for two hours with the bathroom door closed.
  5. Slowly pour a gallon of hot water down the drain.
  6. After fifteen minutes, run cold water for ten minutes to thoroughly rinse the vinegar down. This step is very important, so don't skip it.
  7. Pour 1/2 cup chlorine bleach into the drain and let it sit for another two hours.
  8. Rinse with another gallon of hot water poured slowly.
  9. Turn on the shower’s water faucet, and let the water run for ten minutes. By now, ample water should be standing in the “U” curve of the p-trap.
  10. The last step is to pour four ounces of mineral oil (plain cooking oil will work in a pinch) into the drain. The oil floats on the water in the trap and slows evaporation.
  11. Replace the trap.

Warning: Never mix bleach and vinegar, or you will create toxic chlorine and chloramine gas. Step #6 is crucial to avoid this danger.

Warning!

Never mix bleach and vinegar, or you will create toxic chlorine and chloramine gas.

How Does Sewer Gas Get Inside Your Home?

Every drain in your home’s sewer system should have a “p”-shaped trap that is properly vented. These drains trap water, creating a seal or barrier that will keep sewer gas out of your home. If one of these drains is rarely used, such as in a guest bathroom, the water creating the protective seal will eventually evaporate. This is a formula for trouble that can allow stinky sewer gas to seep into your home. Simply running the water might solve this problem.

P-Traps, Vents, and Drains—How They Work

Let’s consider how the plumbing for this stand-alone shower in my home operates: Water from the city water system enters through the shower head while faucets control the water pressure and supply. When water drains from the shower, it goes into the city sewer system.

My shower, indeed every plumbing fixture in my home, should have two items working together to keep sewer gas out: 1. A p-trap that holds water in a “U” shape of the pipe and forms a seal, and 2. A vent system that allows air in to equalize pressure and let sewer gases escape up the stack to the outside.

In short, the properly-vented p-trap prevents back pressure from letting sewer gas into my home. The vent is a critical component of this system because the pressure in sewer lines may fluctuate.

A p-trap.
A p-trap.

What Is a Dry Trap?

My research led me to believe that my stinky problem might be the easiest type to resolve: A dry trap. Since my guest shower had remained unused for a long time, the trap under the basin wasn't holding enough water to prevent sewer fumes from seeping up into the room. Often, simply running the water can resolve this issue.

Is It Okay to Pour Boiling Water Down the Drain?

While I advocate pouring hot water down the drain, what about boiling water? is it likely that boiling water in the drain might crack a pipe? I asked an engineer about this issue, and he told me that boiling water won't damage metal pipes. Even if your home's plumbing includes PVC pipes and joints, using very hot water shouldn't hurt them, but don't let the water boil.

PVC pipes don't need regular dousing with water over 175 degrees Fahrenheit (and water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit), or the joints might melt. If you aren't certain whether or not your plumbing system includes PVC pipes and joints (or even rubber fittings), don't let the water heat to boiling or even the about-to-boil stage. If the water is hot (less than 175 degrees F.), it should do the trick.

What if This Simple Solution Doesn't Work?

If the odor had persisted after the vinegar-baking soda-bleach-hot water-mineral oil technique I used, the sewer gas invasion might have been caused by something other than a dry p-trap.

Leaks, rotted or cracked drain pipes, clogs in the drain, or a stopped-up vent pipe are other potential stink-makers. Had I still smelled that nasty odor when I opened the bathroom door next morning, stronger measures would have been in order.

I don't have the DIY expertise to test or resolve more difficult issues, so it would have been time to call in the professional—a licensed, bonded, and insured plumber. I already have the phone numbers of two such plumbers on my speed dial (see next paragraph), but anyone searching for a trustworthy plumber should use an Internet search engine for a national or local directory of plumbers who are licensed, bonded, and insured. You don't want to take a chance on someone who may charge cheaper rates, but can't be held accountable for work, including any damages to your property.

My Experience with Sewer Gas

I didn’t know anything about p-traps or their function until a recent unpleasant incident forced me to do some hurried research. Here’s the background. There are three showers in my home. Two of them are regularly used, but the third is rarely used at all. In fact, it had not been used for months at the time this situation occurred.

When that shower was suddenly used after remaining dry for such a long period, the resulting odor emanating from the drain after the water stopped was dreadful. It smelled like…yes, a sewer! Eau de sewer is definitely not the fragrance I wanted wafting throughout my home, so getting rid of it was a top priority, requiring immediate action.

It was evening when the odor materialized, and I realized it might not be possible to get a licensed plumber to my house after regular business hours. Even if I were successful in locating a plumber who would show up before the next day, the overtime rates charged would not be healthy for my budget. Perhaps there was something I could do before then. DIY is not my forte, but I can sometimes handle an easy fix. You never know until you try.

The odor in the bathroom had to be contained, so closing off the drain holes temporarily was the first thing I did. I quickly dried the floor of the shower stall with paper towels and covered the drain tightly with good old all-purpose duct tape. I then opened the bathroom window for ventilation. Closing the door of that bathroom, I rolled up a towel and pushed it against the outside bottom of the door to prevent sewer gas from escaping that room into another part of the house.

Now that the odor was restricted, I headed for the computer and accessed Google. It took me only a few minutes to find several articles that explained how p-traps, vents (those pipes protruding from the top of the house), and a home’s plumbing drains are supposed to work, as well as what sometimes goes wrong to cause drain odors.

Since the sewer gas that invaded my home was due to a dry trap, it's up to me to keep it from happening again. I now ensure there is a water barrier in the p-trap of that little-used shower with some easy weekly maintenance. Every week, I pour a cup of white vinegar down the drain, then turn on the water and let it run for about ten minutes. This method can be used for any drain, not just the one in a shower.

If any plumbing fixture in your home gets infrequent use, try regular "preventive maintenance" by running water or flushing at least weekly to keep all the p-traps working properly. You won't be sorry for the effort to keep nasty sewer gas at bay.

When I first bought this vintage ‘60s house more than a decade ago, major plumbing problems seemed to crop up every few months. For quite some time, I had the phone number of my plumber of choice available to call quickly when emergencies arose. Finally, the big issues were resolved (and please don’t remind me how much money that cost), so visits from the plumber have been rare in recent years. (Knock on wood!) Still, I realize that letting a not-so-large problem go unrepaired often means it morphs into something much worse. All the years of plumbing problems gave me a healthy respect for those brave souls who successfully ply the trade. If a plumber is needed, at least I know a couple of good ones!

Disclaimer: I am not a plumber, building contractor, or expert in either of these fields, only a homeowner who did some research and tried the methods suggested to correct the acute issue and continue to follow it up with preventive maintenance. I hope these suggestions help you get rid of the yucky odor (and potential safety problem) of sewer gas. If they don't, you should call a professional plumber for help. Good luck!

Have you ever had to cope with sewer gas smell?

Has sewer gas ever invaded your home, and, if so, how did you get rid of it?

See results

© 2011 Jaye Denman

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  • Zzz3 2 weeks ago

    Mark or Dmaio,

    I am hoping you can share what you learned on this site - or regarding the issues you were have that you commented on in this article. I have a similar problem with a mysterious sewer smell coming from my toilet. I just replaced the Wax ring -twice - and the toilet flange. I replaced the ring the second time because of the smell. There are no leaks either - but the smell of sewer gas. Originally, the tank spontaneously cracked and leaked on the floor, so I replaced the toilet.

    You guys had similar mysteries - wondered if you resolved it?

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 2 weeks ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, Sydney Plumber! I appreciate the thumbs up! Jaye

  • SydneyPlumber 4 weeks ago

    For someone who isn't a plumber, you sure do have the knowledge of one! You're doing a great job helping out every homeowner who reads this by simply writing this post. I've been in the plumbing industry for 10+ years at Canterburyplumbingservices.com.au .. And i must say well done.

    Two thumbs up mate!

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 4 weeks ago from Deep South, USA

    Sometimes when a toilet wax seal is installed, the toilet isn't placed (re-seated) accurately, which allows some sewer gas to escape. If the plumbing was capped when the bathtub was removed, I don't know how it could be related to a new "off" smell unless something came loose inside the wall. I'm not a plumber, of course, so this is a guess on my part. You may need to have a plumber check it out if you aren't a handy DIY-er (or have a friend who is). Good luck getting rid of that smell!

  • DeMaio 2 months ago

    Just had a new toilet wax seal installed and the smell started. Should I just replace the new seal? About a year ago, I had a bathtub removed and covered, could that be related?

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 4 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, StinkySinky - I'm so glad some of these tips were helpful to you. Sometimes just wetting the p-trap with water will be enough if that's the only problem. Good luck!

    Jaye

  • stinkysinky 4 months ago

    Hi! This page has really helped me so far. I just moved into a new apartment and after a couple weeks there was suddenly a strong smell in my bathroom of sewer gas. i had been away and not used the shower/tub for a week or so. The smell was coming out of the tub drain, tub faucet and overflow drain. i follewed your steps minus the bleach and mineral oil. The smell is about 80% better. But there was still a faint smell of sewer gas that dissapeared when I plugged the drain and put tape and plastic over the faucet and overflow drain. so i just repeated the protocol minus the bleach and minteral oil hopefully it works!!!

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 5 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Diane - Bleach is best saved for city water and sewer systems, but vinegar and baking soda produce foaming action that help clean and freshen the drain. However, to stop sewer gas from seeping into your home, it's important to (1) make sure the sewer vent isn't stopped up, and (2) pour water down the drain to wet the trap and leave enough water standing to seal it. The short answer to your question is: yes--you can dispense with bleach and use vinegar and soda.

  • Diane 5 months ago

    We have a water well so cannot use Bleach because it kills the good bacteria so I'm told.

    Would the vinegar and soda help without the bleach step?

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 5 months ago from Deep South, USA

    AR - The best thing about living in an apartment building is that the apartment management has responsibility for ensuring that everything in the apartment (other than the tenant's personal property) is both workable and safe. Call your building's maintenance supervisor or the manager and explain about the sewer gas smell. It's up to the apartment ownership/management to troubleshoot anything wrong with plumbing, sewer venting, drains, or any issue that could allow sewer gas into your apartment or others. If there's any hesitancy, be firm and remind the person to whom you speak that sewer gas can cause illness and is also volatile. That should get a maintenance repair person scheduled to track down the trouble soon! Good luck....Jaye

  • AR 5 months ago

    What if you live in an apartment building?

    I occasionally (but frequently enough to be gross) notice a sewer smell in the bathroom. I can't pinpoint if it's the shower drain or the drain on the bathroom floor. I've lived in the apartment for a month now. I don't notice any effects on myself such as headache, and it's not constant, but I'm worried it could be more serious. Any thoughts on this? Thank you in advance.

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    Jaye Denman 5 months ago from Deep South, USA

    ANDREW - Sorry about the typo (missing "w" at end of your name). I noticed it after a time elapse, so it was too late to edit my original response. Jaye

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    Jaye Denman 5 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Linda Marie – How long have you noticed the sewer gas odor coming from the toilet? Sometimes when a new toilet is installed or new flooring in a bathroom requires moving an existing toilet, the toilet bowl gasket won’t be sealed properly—not only if it’s a DIY project, but also some rookie plumbers may not get it right. There are several places that allow air to seep through with an improperly sealed gasket (not only air, but sewer gas, water, even vermin), so it’s worth paying an experienced plumber to ensure it’s done (or re-done) correctly. Good luck! Jaye

    Adasha - Oh, my goodness—what a terrible experience! And, as we say in the Deep South, “Bless your heart!” I do hope you’ve completely recovered from weeks of sewer gas inhalation. It can really be dangerous to your health, especially (as you mentioned) when someone has a compromised immune system, and it seems that your liver was working overtime. Sewer gas can also cause fire or an explosion, so I’m very glad your daughter realized what was wrong, you did some fast research, and that you promptly flushed the drains and closed the tanks. Take care…Jaye

    Andre – Thanks so much for joining the discussion and adding another suggestion relative to septic roof vents. Also, thanks for sharing the link. Regards, Jaye

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    Andrew C McGibbon 5 months ago from West Milford, New Jersey

    If the smell is originating outside the house, the odor can be emanating from the septic vent on the roof of your house. If your home is situated against a hill or a line of trees, wind vortexes can be created that bring that odor close to the ground. There is a website, http://IndustrialOdorControl.com that has the Wolverine Brand Activated Carbon Vent Filter that will solve this problem. Remember though, you will need one for each vent on the roof.

  • Adasha Knight 6 months ago

    You just saved my life literally. Living in an RV full time and not knowing about this issue, had my drain tanks open full time to the sewer line. Been steadily getting sicker and sicker until being bedridden after two weeks of not leaving home. Last night my daughter walked in and smelled the smell I was immune to. I read another article and then this one and immediately ran water in all drains and closed my tanks. I hope the damage isn't done and this reverses. I'm dizzy, lethargic, can't think, have fever, hurt all over. I had pre-op labs done this week and they called me that my liver labs were over the top. I assume that's from it trying to filter out the toxins?

    This is very dangerous, especially for people with compromised immune systems.

    Thank you so much for your information and saving my life.

  • LindaMarie1221 6 months ago

    I too have dreadful sewer gas smell, but it comes from the toiler, not the sink or the shower. I have not seen any resolutions for the toilet smell. I don't think that they use the same pipe. Help me!

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 6 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks to everyone who's left a comment lately. I'm glad these tips have been helpful to you and appreciate what everyone added to the discussion.

    Jaye

  • Thanks so much! 6 months ago

    Thank you so much, this totally worked! We had the issue in our bathtub...Just a note for the bathtub issues-take off the overflow cap in there and do some of the baking soda/vinegar/water/mineral oil in there as well...

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    Jaye Denman 6 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Beenthere - It seems very likely that your roof vents are blocked by debris. If you're good at DIY, you can check them yourself; otherwise, it's time for the plumber. Good luck!

  • Beenthere 7 months ago

    Once lived on ground floor of 3 story newer building, complaints of sewer gas to management company ignored so I reported it to Health Dept. This whole process took several weeks. Turned out the pipes in the crawl space below the building were broken and weeks of sewage from all 3 floors were under my apartment!

    Now live in 1 story condo, slow drains for 3 years in both bathrooms, have been doing DIY for 3 years to keep them flowing, now notice sewer gas smell but it is just at edge of building.when i am outside. From reading up, i think air vents on roof are blocking up.

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    Jaye Denman 9 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Dwight – You didn’t say whether the vanity installation was DIY or whether a plumber did the work. If it was recently performed by a plumber, you should call the pro and report the smell. However, licensed and bonded plumbers are accustomed to meeting building codes, so a plumbing mistake is unlikely.

    Since the smell is only noticeable the first time you turn the water on in the morning, you may have a high concentration of dissolved sulfides (if your water supply is municipal) or hydrogen sulfide gas if you have a well. These gasses rise to the highest point in the supply side of the plumbing, such as the valves of faucets and linger as concentrate. The smell lasts briefly when released and isn’t likely to be at every faucet in the house. Factors affecting the amount of sulfides gathered at any place in your plumbing may include: the way the water line was run; pipe size; and style.

    Your local Chamber of Commerce can likely advise you of an agency that can test a sample of the water from that faucet, probably for free. The test will show if the water contains sulfides and, if so, if the amount is harmless. In the latter instance, you may want to put a filter on that faucet.

    On the other hand, if it’s above the recommended level, you will need professional help. Municipal water treatment plants test water for acceptable levels of all sorts of minerals and other materials. Notify your water department if your sulfide level is over the safe level.

    If you get your water from a well, here’s a link where you can get advice: http://www.wellowner.org/water-quality/hydrogen-su...

    Good luck!

    Jaye

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    dugoutwhirl 9 months ago from USA

    Thats good..

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 10 months ago from Deep South, USA

    roob - Thanks for adding to the discussion. You're right about bad-smelling water. I once lived in a town that had tea-colored water with a sulfur odor. The municipal water department insisted it was safe and actually healthy (due to minerals, I think), but it did smell bad and stained white clothing in the laundry.

    Regards, Jaye

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    Ruby 10 months ago

    being a plumber if there is a smell what we recommend is taking the drain cover or pop up off plug off then using a hacksaw blade or hanger to get hair that may be trapped & causing the smell. Next if still smells pour bleach down the drain with some baking soda. Remember people, your water also can have a sort of rotten smell to it as well!

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 10 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Vanessa - I'm so glad my tips were helpful to you! It's a pleasure to learn when someone used these DIY suggestions with good results. Regards, Jaye

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The Reminder - Happy to be of help to you in Canada. Sometimes the simple remedies work well. Take care . . . Jaye

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Peter S - I'm delighted my tips got rid of your guest bathroom odor. Regular flushing all the drains should keep the traps wet and non-smelly now. Best wishes, Jaye

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    The Reminder 11 months ago from Canada

    Very good and informative hub. Thanks for the info!

  • klewis0906 13 months ago

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!! I have spent literally thousands of dollars over the years trying to get rid of that smell. Just recently I had my entire sewer line replaced. I was told that was the problem. Cracks in the sewer line. Although the smell temporarily dissapeared, it recently came back with a vengeance. I wanted to cry. I called the gas company this week to see if I had a gas leak. No gas leak. Last year I had DWP come and flush the sewer line from the street. All out of options, I finally googled (which I could kick myself for not doing this first) and found this article. I did the DIY solution yesterday, and I'm happy to find this morning that the smell is gone. Sending a big virtual HUG to you!!!!

  • vanessa wellington 13 months ago

    My plumbing was causing a lot of smell in my kitchen and bathroom. Thank God I came across your post. Life savior!

    --------------------

    http://www.thesischampions.com

  • goingrich 13 months ago

    nice info to share...

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    Jonah Engler 13 months ago from New York, NY

    Never thought of this - will give it a try next this it happens to me :D

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 14 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Monis Mas - You're very welcome! I hope the tips in my article prove helpful to you. Thanks for your comment. Regards,

    Jaye

  • Monis Mas profile image

    Aga 14 months ago

    Thanks for the advice

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 14 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Adrian - Thanks for the reminder about PVC (plastic) pipes. After I published this Hub, someone mentioned in the comments section that boiling water poured down the drain might crack a pipe. I asked an engineer about this issue and was advised that PVC (plastic) pipes should not be hurt by a little very hot or just-about-to-boil water. However, PVC pipes don't need regular dousing with water over 175 degrees Fahrenheit (and water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit), or the joints might melt. (He didn’t mention rubber fittings, but I know heat can damage rubber.) Anyone who isn’t certain whether or not a plumbing system includes any PVC pipes, PVC joints, or rubber fittings should not let the water boil. If it's just very hot water (in moderation), it should still do the trick. After all, some people take very hot showers.

    Regards, Jaye

    m - Monthly maintenance of your drains to clean them and prevent clogging is a good idea. Thanks for stopping by and sharing this tip. Jaye

    argdraw - Keeping the trap wet is, as you pointed out, a must to prevent sewer gas. Guest baths are often forgotten for periods of time if no one uses them but occasional visitors. I've developed the habit of running water in my guest bath weekly to keep the traps wet. If you need a reminder to do this, put a note or colored sticker on your calendar to jog your memory until it becomes natural to do it regularly. We certainly don't want sewer gas smell to welcome our house guests, do we?

    Regards, Jaye

  • argdraw 14 months ago from London

    Your method, is a good way to clean the pipes, even clear a minor blockage, but the gas smell, is sewer air coming out of the pipe, because the water has dried out of the trap, running some water, into the trap will refill it, stopping the smell, little used pipework is unlikely to need cleaning just a cup of water.

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 14 months ago from Deep South, USA

    greatstuff - Thanks for adding to the discussion. I'm glad your cat's "sewer system" got fixed. Regards, Jaye

  • greatstuff profile image

    Mazlan 14 months ago from Malaysia

    Our cat's house has it's own 'sewage system' (I don't use cat litter anymore..used to) and connected to the washing machine drain pipe (that goes to the sewer line). Unfortunately, the plumber didn't add in the so called trap and it gave out the 'cat poo odor smell' :-(

    Now that it is fixed, we can all breathe easier now :-)

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 14 months ago from Deep South, USA

    peachpurple - Thanks so much. By the way, you are fortunate to have a hubby with DIY abilities in plumbing! Regards, Jaye

    Linda - Thanks for your kind comments and the follow. I'm glad you enjoyed my hub and hope these tips will save you money. Regards, Jaye

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    Linda Robinson 15 months ago from Cicero, New York

    Hi Jaye just wanted to say so nice meeting you, and that I really enjoyed and got so much important information and easy to comprehend and so many outstanding tips do-it-yourself repairs before calling the plumber that will save you hundreds. Great hub. Happy to be following you. Linda

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    peachy 15 months ago from Home Sweet Home

    these tips, I gonna bookmark for my hubby, he is the plumber of the house

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 15 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Sam - Sorry I missed your comment, and I hope you got the problem corrected. The amount of vinegar and soda doesn't have to be measured; just dump some in from a home-size bottle and box.

    Greenmind: Thanks!

    Alekdo - I don't suggest that anyone try DIY plumbing repairs, only remedies using household products that may work but won't harm the plumbing even if they don't. And...if they don't, it's time to call the plumber.

    Thanks for reading, all....Jaye

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    Aleksey Donets 15 months ago from Cherkassy, Ukraine

    The hub is really helpful, but I think that if a person lacks experience and knowledge in DIY repairs, it is still better to call the plumber! Don't you think so?

  • greenmind profile image

    greenmind 15 months ago

    Nicely done -- This is a great hub about a great topic -- I love helpful ideas and suggestions like this one. Thanks and well done!

  • Sam 15 months ago

    Hi Jaye, I have a commercial building. there's 2 bathrooms, men and women but the men bathroom is constantly having the sewerage gas smell. I think its coming from the urinal. I called in the plumber and the guy charged me $50 dollars for advice, which is to pour a bottle of bleach down the urinal. It worked temporary but 2 days later the smell came back again. If i use your method, how much vinegar and baking soda along with bleach should i pour?

    Thank you!

  • Gestor TI 18 months ago

    Thanks! Great tip!

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 19 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Jana - The heat may worsen the smell, but should not be the cause of it. Your vent to the outside may be stopped up with debris or you may have a dry trap in your plumbing, such as a guest room shower that's not used frequently. Unstopping a vent may not be DIY for everyone, but the dry trap is an easy "fix" using the tips in my article. If that doesn't work, it's time to call the plumber. Good luck...Jaye

  • jana 19 months ago

    Hi i have lived in my house for 2 years and have never had this problem before. Could the temp outside being 110 have anything to do with the sewer smell?

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 19 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks for your comment, bnayr. I'm glad your landlord took care of the problem, but now you have some DIY tips for the future. Regards, Jaye

  • bnayr profile image

    Ryan 19 months ago from Manchester

    Thanks for sharing this great guide. I had a recent problem with this, but fortunately my landlord called someone in. At least for the future I'm now well informed. Cheers.

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 20 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Cajun - Thanks for the credit and for using a link that takes the reader (and traffic) back to my HubPages article.

    Jaye

  • Cajun Maintenance profile image

    Kevin Hussey 20 months ago from Baton Rouge LA

    I have shared your article Jaye - but I have given you full credit.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cajun-Maintenance/9...

    See our FB page if you'd like to verify. Thx - KH

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 20 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, Cajun - And I'm confident you aren't going to do like numerous other plumbing professionals and "borrow" my article for your business blog, are you?

    ; ) Best wishes with your Baton Rouge business. I'm from the Deep South myself.

    I have the utmost respect for plumbers and plumbing contractors, and have spent a small fortune using their services since I bought an older house years ago. However, I managed to avoid it with this situation, save a bit, with good results.

    Regards,

    Jaye

  • Cajun Maintenance profile image

    Kevin Hussey 20 months ago from Baton Rouge LA

    This was a great article - thanks for taking the time to post!!

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 20 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, Avery - I'm not a plumber or professional contractor--just a homeowner who found a way to rid my bathroom of sewer gas coming through the shower drain. You may be able to get that information for free simply by phoning a plumbing and plumbing equipment business. Good luck!

  • Avery 20 months ago

    I am looking for that low pro-drain for my shower what is the brand name of that one

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 21 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, Cynthia - "Useful" was the word I hoped would be most used for this hub.

    Regards, Jaye

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    Cynthia 21 months ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

    Well-written, useful hub! I will certainly share this broadly! ~Cynthia

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    Jaye Denman 23 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, Shyron. I have to "remind" myself to do the same. Blessings and hubs right back to you on this cold and icy Tuesday. Jaye

  • Shyron E Shenko profile image

    Shyron E Shenko 23 months ago

    Jaye, thank you for this very useful information. we have two bath rooms that are seldom used and I need to go make sure they have water in the J-Traps.

    Thank you for the reminder.

    Blessings and Hugs dear friend

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 23 months ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks for your comment, Scott. I only know what worked for my situation. However, simply running water regularly in a shower used infrequently (such as a guest bathroom) will keep the trap from drying out.

    Jaye

  • Scott lyons 23 months ago

    A shower trap holds about two cups of water. That's all you need to pour into a dry trap. No need for bleach, vinegar or baking soda.

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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Mark - Your vent pipe may be clogged with debris or even a "critter's" nest if the bad smell is recent. If it's an ongoing problem, the vent pipe may be improperly installed.

    If it's a clog and you're the DIY type (and can safely gain access to the pipe), you may be able to flush out any clog. Otherwise, you will need to call a plumber for the job. You'll also need a plumber if the pipe is improperly installed.

    These are just my opinions, of course. I'm neither a plumber or an expert, but have personally experienced enough plumbing issues living in an older house to both spend a small fortune on plumbers and also learn some simple DIY methods for correcting non-critical problems, such as those described in this article.

    Good luck! Jaye

  • Mark 2 years ago

    Our foul sewer smell is coming out of the bathroom area. We dont suspect its the drains, it smells like its coming from the toilet. I dont think its the wax seal because there is no water around the base of the toilet. Someone told me to check the stink pipe...Any advice?

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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    You're very welcome, Morgan, and I'm glad your landlord finally responded to your request for repair. I hope everything goes well. Thanks for returning with an update. Jaye

  • Morgan 2 years ago

    Jaye,

    Thank you so much for your kind reply. The problem finally got bad enough that we were able to insist the landlord do something about it. A plumber is going to come with a camera and check everything. Our township inspector was here, and his guess is that we have a crack in one of our pipes or a clogged vent. Either way, he said the problem has to be addressed.

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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Minh - Terrific! I'm so glad these DIY tips worked for you and your wife. By continuing to use these inexpensive products regularly, your drains should stay free from odor. Thanks for your nice reply. Regards, Jaye

  • Minh 2 years ago

    Thanks, Jaye! There was a bad odor that was gradually getting worse in our master bathroom. The bathroom is frequently used but we thought we would try this DIY remedy before calling the plumber. For a couple dollars, why not?

    While the vinegar and baking soda was working in the two sinks and shower drains, I asked my wife if she thought the odor was stronger by the drains or toilet. After reading the comments here, I was hoping to determine if the toilet seal was the problem. She thought the smell was equal in all three places. Darn.

    It was then that we both glanced at the Jacuzzi. Oops, there was a fourth drain! We never use the tub. Your DIY remedy did the trick and the smell disappeared in less than an hour. And now we know how to maintain our drains. Thanks so much!

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, Morgan. I'll preface this by stating that I am neither a plumber or an expert on plumbing and sewer system issues. However, I do have some suggestions that may be helpful.

    You don’t mention whether or not your home is connected to a city sewer system or if you have a septic tank, so I’ll address both situations. Let’s start with the city sewer system scenario. The vent stacks on the roof are more likely to be stopped up in the winter months if the covers are missing (or loose) by falling leaves and other blowing debris that become packed inside the pipes. Small animals may also make nests in the stacks under these circumstances. If you live in a very cold climate, ice can build up on and inside the vent stacks. Painting the stacks black attracts the sun to the dark color and may help prevent ice buildup in the future. Someone needs to climb up on the roof and inspect the vent stacks—both pipes and covers. Actually, this should be done after every winter season ends as well. As a tenant, however, that should not be your responsibility but the property owner’s.

    Now...septic tank systems: Simple preventive maintenance for septic tank systems may include flushing a package of baker’s yeast down the toilet twice a year. However, codes and regulations regarding septic tanks vary in different areas. If a septic tank needs repair work, it should be done by a professional.

    I’ll address your landlord problem last. If you have a lease for the property and pay rent, you have a right to expect that plumbing and other major problems with the property will be corrected very soon after you report them. The tenant-and-landlord laws vary by state, so call your state’s building and health inspectors to find out what can legally be done. Sewer gas isn’t just an annoyance, but is a health and safety issue.

    There may be a number of options legally open to you if your landlord is ignoring your requests to repair the sewer gas leakage: withhold rent payment; have the problem repaired by a plumber and deduct the cost from your rent payment; move and sue the landlord for rent you paid for defective premises and the costs of moving. Whichever option you select, you should inform your landlord in advance via USPS certified letter (requiring a return signature) of the step(s) you intend to take if your request for repair is not honored immediately (say, for example, within three business days). Mentioning in that letter that you already notified your state’s building and health safety inspectors may get his attention! Be sure to keep a photocopy of the letter with your signature as well as the certified receipt and the returned signature form. Good luck. Jaye

  • Morgan 2 years ago

    I came across your article while searching for a solution to my stinky problem. For two or three years now, our house takes on a horrible sewer smell when it gets cold outside. It never happens in the spring or summer; only in the fall and winter when it drops near or below freezing. It usually starts around 3 a.m., but sometimes it will start earlier (it's just after midnight, and it smells right now, which is what prompted me to Google "sewer smell in house"). Our landlord doesn't seem concerned, even though we've complained multiple times (*he* doesn't get woken up at 3 a.m. because the smell is so strong!).

    Do you have any idea what might cause such a smell? We don't have any unused plumbing in our house; we have one bathroom, with a sink and shower that get used daily; a kitchen that's always being used; and a washer and dryer that we use several times per week. So it doesn't seem like "dry trap" is the problem. I can't figure out what would cause this only when it is cold outside, though.

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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    You're very welcome, Charmon. I'm glad an exorcist wasn't necessary! Regards, Jaye

  • Charmon 2 years ago

    Thank you for this instructive and my case timely article. Your DIY first line of approach to remediate the source of these nauseating miasmsas eminating from who-knows-where in my house makes perfect sense - both in terms of what the problem may be and how to go about fixing it myself. Until now, short of calling in an exorcist, I was at a complete loss as to where to start. Again, thank you.

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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, Crystal - This is one time I'm not going to suggest using the tips in this article, and that's because you have a lease that undoubtedly provides for maintenance of your town home when needed. That lease protects you as well as the owner of the complex, guaranteeing you a safe and habitable place to live.

    Since you describe the smell as 'musty', I'm concerned that it may be a buildup of mold in the walls due to a plumbing leak or a roof leak that led to standing water, rather than sewer gas. Certain types of mold can present very dangerous health issues, so you should not delay getting something done about it.

    You need to be very assertive in your interaction with the office administrator, communicating not only over the phone, but putting your request in writing and keeping a copy for your records. Mention the possibilities of both mold and sewer gas, and state that you're aware both present serious health hazards and require immediate attention. In addition, both mold and sewer gas could pose major problems for the property--mold by growth and spreading to other units, sewer gas by build-up that could lead to an explosion.

    When you convey the dangers in those terms and mention the potential liability of the property owner, the office administrator should take you seriously and do something immediately. Most maintenance personnel are on call for night-time emergencies. You should insist the situation is an emergency and someone should be there at 11pm to verify the odor. (The odors caused by mold or sewer gas are each distinctive. An experienced maintenance person has probably smelled both and will recognize which is more likely to be the problem.)

    There are regulations about mold removal—requiring a contractor who is certified to do that type of work. This is because mold spores cannot be allowed to escape into the atmosphere where they can spread and cause additional health hazard. Certified mold removal contractors also have equipment that can determine if and where there is water from a leak without tearing out the walls or ceiling.

    Because the responsibilities of landlords vary from state to state, you should consult local codes regarding rental properties in your state and city. This information should be available from your local building or housing authority, as well as local health and fire departments, either by phone or from their websites. Since I'm writing this on a regular workday, you should be able to get this information today so you will know your rights when communicating with the office administrator.

    When a landlord fails to make the necessary repairs or maintenance after receiving a request from a tenant (you), depending upon your state's laws, there may be several options open to you. You may have the right to (1) withhold all rent or put it aside in an escrow account until the repair is made adequately, at which time it will be released to the landlord; (2) pay less rent until the problem is resolved satisfactorily; (3) hire an outside party, such as a licensed plumber, to make the necessary repairs and deduct the cost from your rent payment; (4) if the problem violates state or local building or health codes, contact the local authorities regarding the issue. If their inspectors come to your town home and find the problem, the landlord may be ordered to fix it, plus face a fine for the delay in doing so; or (5) since the problem is pervasive (an ongoing odor that may be caused by a hazardous condition) and disturbs your right as tenant to live in a habitable structure, you may choose to move out of the town home and legally end the lease agreement because the landlord has breached responsibility of the contract.

    If you take this latter course of action (#5), you may want to consider what is called a constructive eviction lawsuit in which you must provide evidence of two things. You must prove that the uninhabitable conditions were a result of the landlord's lack of action to fix the problem and that you left the rental property in a reasonable time. Your evidence of the problem could consist of having two people (witnesses) come to your home during the hours when the odor is evident and give written, notarized statements of that fact. The property owner could face stiff monetary damages for breaking the lease, plus your discomfort from the bad condition leading to emotional and physical stress.

    Just knowing your rights and communicating them clearly (both orally and in writing with a copy saved for your records) to the office administrator should get you a prompt and satisfactory resolution to the problem you're experiencing. Believe me, that person does not want to jeopardize his or her job by ignoring a situation that may cost the employer a lot of money in damages.

    Always be assertive about your rights. That old saying about the squeaky wheel getting the grease is true. I hope you will take action today to get this potentially dangerous problem in your home resolved. Good luck, Crystal.

  • Crystal Y 2 years ago

    Hi, I moved into this townhouse couple months ago. There is a terrible smell rising every night, sometimes 7pm and sometimes 11pm. It's a smell we never smelled before, so musty is what we can describe. I always have to keep the window open and the smell goes away about 9am. It gets worse on rainy days. The layout of the whole place is like: basement - where washer/dryer are, but I don't have them; first floor - kitchen and living room side by side, a 1/2 bathroom in the back; second floor, a full bathroom. Every night, it stinks in the living room. From what you and others describe, I wonder if it's because there is no ventilation and window in that bathroom. If I turn on AC, every room stinks with that smell. Should I go ahead and try your remedy or have the maintenance guy clean the p trap first? The office is pretty much ignoring me because I can't show the smell during the day and I can't get out of the lease.

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Earl - I'm glad you found where the smell was originating. A leaky toilet seal will cause that stinky odor. Fortunately, replacing the seal is a fairly easy DIY repair and not costly either. Thanks for reading and commenting. Regards, Jaye

  • Earl 2 years ago

    My problem turned out yo be a bad seal around the base of the toilet.

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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Premila Angeline - I'm so glad the smell is gone and hope it doesn't return. When a house sits vacant for a while with no water running through the drains (including flushing of toilets), sewer gas is often the result. People in charge of rental property don't think about running water in all the drains at least weekly.

    I hope all is well now and you enjoy your new home.

    Regards,

    Jaye

  • Premila Angeline profile image

    Premila Angeline 2 years ago from Wakra, Al Wakrah, Qatar

    Thank you,thank you,thank you so much for this info. We just moved to a new rented house and the smell started after about a week. We have tried everything to mask the smell but nothing worked. Sometimes it seemed to go away, and then it would be back. I found out that it was coming from the back of the toilet bowl. I googled out of desperation and found your article. I used vinegar and baking soda and lots of hot water. I did not use bleach as I didn't have any in the house. I tried it this afternoon. The smell seems to have gone. I pray it does not return tomorrow morning.

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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thank you, ChiLam, for the suggestion. I know that some plastics smell strongly when hot, and an overheated electrical wire can certainly be dangerous.

    Regards, Jaye

  • ChiLam 2 years ago

    When all the searches for plumbing issues fail and you still have this sewer smell after showing or after using the washing machine, check the switches are not overly hot, if so then call an Electrician rather than a Plumber.

    Ask the Electrician to check the switches, wiring etc.

    Some electrical cables uses plastics which exudes a fishes odour when it over-heats as a safety precaution.

    I hope this helps.

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thank you so much, Janice, for reporting your success. I'm so glad these tips worked for you and got rid of the smell. Regards, Jaye

  • Janice 2 years ago

    I can't believe this worked!! But it did. Thank you! My smells were not extremely stinky but still smelled. This got rid of them amazingly... and made my drains drain faster.

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Electro - Parts of your comments got cut off, but I think I got the gist that you tried the methods (waiting about 20 minutes between each addition to your drain), and I hope it works long-term for you. Good luck!

    Jaye

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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Laurey - Thanks for reading and for your comments. I hope the DIY remedies are helpful to you. Sewer gas not only smells bad, it's bad news for a home and its residents. Regards, Jaye

    Susan - I can understand why your bathroom (with the infrequently used shower) has the sewer gas smell because the trap probably dried out, but the smell in your laundry room is a puzzle. Be sure and run water in your shower every day or so and use the DIY remedies to keep your shower fresh-smelling. If your laundry room continues to smell, it may have something to do with the installation of your new appliances. You may need to have this checked out by a plumber. Good luck! Regards, Jaye

  • Susan 2 years ago

    Have septic, manfg home one story. We have a bathroom we rarely use shower but do use toilet. Laundry room is next to it in hall . Have sewer smell in both. We resealed toilet ( no seal) and ran cleaner in washer and water in shower and put ridx in toilet. Hoping that solves problem . Weve lived here one year and have new frontloading washer and dryer .

  • Laurey Williams profile image

    Laurey Williams 2 years ago

    I have been noticing that I am starting to smell sewer gas in my house a lot lately. Obviously, it's not the most pleasant smell to smell on a daily basis. I'll have to try some of these DIY remedies and see if I can get one to work for me! www.lighthouselandscape.com

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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, tirelesstraveler - Thanks for visiting and your kind words. I'll be pleased if you link your hub to mine.

    Regards,

    Jaye

  • tirelesstraveler profile image

    Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

    No wonder Billybuc highly recommends you. This is a great hub. Do you mind if I link it to my hub on how to unplug a garbage disposal?

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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Harry – First, let me state that I am not a plumber, so I’m not qualified to diagnose plumbing problems or recommend solutions. This article only tells people about easy, inexpensive ways to get rid of sewer gas caused by a dry p-trap and how to keep the trap from drying out in future.

    However, I will tell you what I think about the situation and suggest that you verify it with a professional--a licensed plumbing contractor. From what you state, it appears that your basement shower, if installed without a p-trap, must have been done against construction code--without a permit and inspection, perhaps by a previous owner of the house.

    You should be very wary of any product that claims to replace p-traps. If you live in the United States, construction code requirements do not approve drains without p-traps. All drains must be trapped and vented, even sub-grade drains, or they may be hazardous to the health of the home’s residents.

    Although you may see products advertised as “trap alternatives”, they are not supposed to be used in lieu of a trap, but with a p-trap. These so-called “trap alternatives” can be used for drains that aren’t used a lot so you don’t need to prime the trap to maintain the water seal. (I don't know if they are actually effective at doing this. You can't always believe advertising.)

    You should hire a reputable licensed plumbing contractor to advise you about how to bring your basement shower up to code. If there is no trap-door for access, the floor may need to be opened to install a p-trap or, if there’s not enough room, the base of the shower may need to be raised for proper installation.

    I’m sorry, but there is unlikely to be a “quick fix” for your problem that adheres to code and is safe. You need professional advice about this matter from a licensed plumbing contractor qualified to give it. Again, I am not a plumber, so I am not qualified to advise you about this—only to urge you to be cautious and seek the help of a qualified plumbing professional. The health and safety of your family or anyone who lives in the house may be at risk.

    Good luck with solving this problem!

    Regards, Jaye

  • harry young 2 years ago

    is there any kind of plumming device out there that can take the place of a p trap.....i have a basement level shower with no p trap

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, Hilary. I hope you never need to use them, but should the need arise, these home remedies for sewer gas smell are easy and thrifty. It doesn't hurt to try them before you call a plumber...and they may make a plumber (and the cost) unnecessary.

    Regards, Jaye

  • Hilary 2 years ago

    These are such great tips! Luckily, I haven't smelt gas in my home. But I know what to do if I ever do now! www.spellhvac.com

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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    nbluejay - Whichever drain in your basement that is covered and not in use undoubtably has a dry trap. However, if sewer rats were coming into the basement through a drain before you covered it, they may have caused some damage somewhere.

    In addition, if the shower in your main floor bathroom is "stinky" after use, its trap is probably dry. I'd recommend first aid for both that shower drain and drains in the basement.

    You can try all the "home remedies" in the same order I used (1. white vinegar; 2. baking soda; 3. flush with very hot-to-boiling water; 4. bleach; 5. more very hot water) If these get rid of the odor, you may have to find another way to keep rats out of that drain other than covering it with a refrigerator. (Couldn't rats get into the coils at the bottom of the refrigerator and ruin them?) The trap for that drain will only dry out again if it doesn't have water going through it regularly.

    If you're not going to use that drain ever again, you might look into having it sealed off. This may be one of those times when calling a plumber is necessary and may save you both headaches and money in the long term. Good luck!

  • nbluejay 2 years ago

    So recently we have had an issue with sewer smell. We have one bathroom on the main floor of our 3 story(including basement) house. After we get a shower we have this awful oder coming up from basement drains. Could this be dry traps? We had an issue about two years ago with rats and we covered drain they were coming from with a refrigerator. Which remedy would you suggest trying first. Not sure which drain to start with.

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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    If you're going to add oil (per the plumber's suggestion), I'd recommend mineral oil rather than antifreeze, and it's still a good idea to wipe excess off the drain opening.

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Me - RV antifreeze is often recommended to keep traps from drying out and won't hurt the drain, although just remembering to let water flow through the drains at least weekly will work just as well. The main problem with using antifreeze is that if you pour it down a shower drain or floor drain and don't completely clean it off the top of the drain fixture, you pet may come along and lick it any residue. Antifreeze is very toxic to animals. I prefer to just run water down the drain than to take a chance on harm to my dog.

    Regards,

    Jaye

  • me 2 years ago

    a plumber suggested putting antifreeze or oil to float on top of the water in the floor drain to prevent evaporation from the p-trap, is that a good idea?

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Haneford - I am thrilled that the tips in my article helped you quickly rid your home of sewer gas. Thanks for telling me your experience. You made my day!

    Regards,

    Jaye

  • Haneford 2 years ago

    I'm so grateful to you for writing this article! I had a strong sewer gas smell in my house last night. I did your first step, the vinegar and baking soda, and that got rid of it in about 2 hours. I didn't even need to do the boiling water or bleach. Thanks so much for saving me a plumber's fee!

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    Jaye Denman 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Sameshi1 - Perhaps your friend has grown accustomed to the odor and no longer consciously notices it. Sewer gas can be dangerous as well as stinky. You may want to ask your friend if he realizes what causes the smell and warn him of the dangers (as pointed out in the article). Even if you're worried about offending your friend, it's better to do that (temporarily) than to take a chance on him getting sick or having the sewer gas eventually cause an explosion.

    Thanks for reading and commenting. Regards, Jaye

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks for reading and for your comment, Raizhel. White vinegar and baking soda are such inexpensive products, and you're so right about their many cleaning and refreshing uses. We can save a lot of money while at the same time avoiding many chemical products by regularly using vinegar and baking soda.

    I appreciate professional plumbers when I really have the need of one's services, but (like most people) I don't want to pay high fees if a DIY fix is available and easy.

    Regards,

    Jaye

  • raizhel profile image

    Ruby S. 3 years ago

    I enjoyed your post. White vinegar and baking soda has lots of uses in cleaning and removing odor. It's important to DIY first particularly if it is small problems plumbing before calling a professional. For, it will save you money.

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Toptenhome - Thanks for reading, and I hope these tips work for you to get rid of those unsavory smells....Regards, Jaye

  • toptenhome profile image

    Brandon Hart 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    Thanks for the ideas. I have been smelling some funky things. I will be trying some of these things out.

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, Ruby. I live in an old house too and have found that vinegar and soda are mainstays in my cleaning/refreshing "toolbox." They not only don't contain toxic ingredients, but are so cheap--really important when one is trying to live a frual life.

    Appreciate the read.

    Regards, Jaye

  • Ruby H Rose profile image

    Maree Michael Martin 3 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

    I love finding useful information like this! Such helpful comments too, thanks everyone. Living in old houses it is a must I see to have vinegar and baking soda around at all times. Time to go try it out for some odd smells I haven't been able to figure out what they are.

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Marisak - You're wise to call a plumber now that you've tried DIY remedies that didn't fully stop the problem. Sometimes the pros can stop an issue from getting worse, so it's good not to wait too long. Best of luck! JAYE

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    Marisak 3 years ago

    Thanks for your advice JayeWisdom. It has come to hiring a plumber. I guess some issues are not easily solved. Although your article did help our situation, it did not stop it. Hopefully this will be an easy fix and my family can move on from this frustrating situation. Thanks again :-)

  • josephchekov 3 years ago

    Thanks for all of these DIY tips. I'm thinking about calling some plumbers to come to my house in Edmonton, but I think that I'll try these tips before I call them. http://www.alwaysplumbing.ca/

  • Alex 3 years ago from Benidorm, Alicante province, Spain

    thank you for publishing such useful tips! I'm sure they'll be of much use to many homeowners.

    http://www.topspanishhomes.com/

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Marisak - First, I am not a plumber or safety expert so what I'm offering here is only an opinion. Since the smell of sewer gas is noticeable at your front entry and an upstairs bedroom, but you don't mention any smell in bathrooms, the lingering smell may not be the result of the pipe that was open. You may have a rooftop vent with blockage (leaves, small animal's nest, debris, etc.).

    If it were only a lack of circulation, you could open the bedroom windows, but since you're opening your front door anyway, fresh air is coming into that area already, so this doesn't seem as likely.

    You might be able to unblock a rooftop vent with a plumbing "snake" or water hose with a nossle set on high pressure.

    However, you should keep in mind that sewer gas can build up to dangerous concentrations inside a house. It doesn't just smell bad, but can be deadly, and odor eliminators (such as room freshener sprays) only mask an odor but don't do anything about the source. Don't let this problem linger too long for safety. A licensed plumber can probably find the source of the smell and fix whatever is causing sewer gas to invade your home. If it is something wrong with a pipe inside a wall, a contractor that handles that type of job may be needed. It may be expensive, but the safety of your family is worth the cost.

    Good luck!

    Jaye

  • Marisak profile image

    Marisak 3 years ago

    I recently had a bad sewer gas smell in my house. It was really strong. We recently had a new countertop installed and had to remove the sink. I was without a kitchen sink for a week. At first we weren't aware that the drain had to be plugged with a rag, but we did place plastic over them. It was like that for 2 days and then the smell happened. I then plugged the drains with a rag after speaking with a plumber, but no one came out to the house. After seeing this article that same day we did all the home remedies and the smell started to go away. It's been a week now since the smell started and it is much better and has not got worse, but it still lingers. I have purchased and placed many different odder eliminators in my basement and the smell seems to be gone from that part of the house. Now the smell hits you as soon as you enter the front door and the upstairs corner bedroom that we don't use, but doesn't smell anywhere else. It seems to be those 2 opposite corners to the house that the smell is trapped, and there is really no circulation. Everywhere else is clear of the smell. I have tried so many different things and every so often I get a wiff of it in those areas.

    Can anyone point me in a direction to finally get rid of the smell for good?

  • JayeWisdom profile image
    Author

    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    SamitaJassi - Thanks for your comment. I hope the tips in this hub will prove helpful to anyone who experiences the problem of sewer gas from a shower drain.

    Regards,

    Jaye

  • SamitaJassi profile image

    Samita Sharma 3 years ago from Chandigarh

    Jaye.. This is a great hub and I'm 100% sure will be helpful to many.

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    ListingPoint - Thanks for your comment and for sharing this article.

    Jaye

  • ListingPoint 3 years ago

    Great article - very useful information for homeowner's and real estate professionals. Will share this page as a resource for my clients. http://www.listingpointrealty.com/

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Toytasting - I hope you won't need these remedies, but if you should in future it's good to have an inexpensive DIY way to get rid of sewer gas odor. Thanks for reading and your comment.

    Jaye

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    Toy Tasting 3 years ago from Mumbai

    This problem is so common to occur. The bad odor one needs to witness, is beyond tolerance. These diy remedies looks simple and easy to accomplish. Hope not, but next time in need, I will be using these remedies.

    Thanks for sharing the info :)

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Memento...I'm glad to hear back from you, as I've been wondering how you were coping with your sewer gas smell problem. Your temporary "fix" seems to be keeping the property livable for your tenants, and when you can get the lower level vent pipe brought up to code, that should take care of it permanently.

    Owning and maintaining rental property can be a real headache sometimes, can't it? I'm glad this situation is better for you. Thanks for updating me (and other readers).

    Jaye

  • memento 3 years ago

    Just an update. I did have a contractor speak to me over the phone (didn't charge me thank heavens). He suggested that when the upper 2 levels of the trilevel were added on , they were to code for the two 2" vent pipes, but the lower level was not- and needs a 4" vent pipe, he suggested hiring a plumber to rip out the walls and install a proper vent pipe. I cannot afford that right now, for now, I actually cannot smell anything bad and the renters just say it smells mildly "musty" on rainy days. I air out the house every day, run the ceiling fans to circulate the air from downstairs to upstairs nand out,keep the drains filled, and put mesh bags of volcanic rocks for the occasonal musty odor (found at the hardware store) and this seems to work for now. Thanks !

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Peggy W....Just making sure traps don't dry out goes a long way toward preventing the stinky smell of sewer gas inside the house. It's certainly worth taking a few minutes to run water in a seldom-used guest bath, isn't it?

    Thanks for the read and feedback. JAYE

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    Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

    I have had that happen in our home with drains that are seldom used. This made me think that I need to run some water in them again. Thanks for writing this informative hub. Just making sure that water goes down seldom used drains every so often usually takes care of this. Up and useful votes & sharing.

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Memento...I'm sorry you're having so much trouble! If I were you, my next step would be a contractor to check those two scenarios suggested by the RotoRooter techs. A general contractor who also has ample experience in plumbing would be my choice.

    The website http://www.homeadvisor.com/ can help you find the right type of pro or expert in your area to handle a specific problem. They're available 24/7 for emergencies. The website referral service doesn't charge you, though of course the contractor/expert will charge you for the work.

    You may want to check your property insurance policy or call your agent to see if your coverage will pay part of the cost of tearing out flooring to repair plumbing...especially if the problem was caused by faulty construction before you purchased the property. It doesn't hurt to ask...

    Good luck! I hope you get it fixed properly--and for good--this time around.

    Jaye

  • memento 3 years ago

    oh dear, well- apparently fixing the gasgets to the sump pump did not do the trick. The toilets still "bubble" when the washer empties. The downstairs still smells of sewer gas. Roto Rooter came back and put a camera down the p-traps, they are not dry. They now wonder if there is a drain under the washer that was somehow floor over and if THAT p trap (under a floor) might be dry, or- if someone used the ceiling fan , to join into the roof vent, thus the 2" in diameter roof vent, would be too small for the ceiling fan (which needs a 4" in diameter vent) and also - if someone joined those 2 vents, it would leak sewer gas. So - now I am back to square one. I have called a handyman, plumber, and roto rooter, spent thousands of dollars and am still no closer to a solution than I was in the beginning. Is the next step to call a contractor? help!

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Memento--Having used RotoRooter's services myself, I know they aren't cheap, but they can be quite effective, particularly when you've exhausted all other efforts. I'm glad they were able to repair your problem. Jaye

  • memento 3 years ago

    Just to let you know- I did call a handyman and plumber first and they were unable to diagnose or fix the problem. I was happy roto rooter fixed it - but it was not cheap- $790.00 to replace parts in the sump pump. But I was super glad they found the problem because I could not.

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Kevin Peter--Thanks for your feedback. I'm glad the information in this article is useful to you.

    Jaye

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    Kevin Peter 3 years ago from Global Citizen

    The tips included in the hub will definitely beat a plumber. I thought that there was not a solution to this problem. Very informative and useful hub!

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, Memento--I'm so glad the cause of your sewer gas problem was diagnosed and fixed. Thanks for checking back to let me know.

    Jaye

  • memento 3 years ago

    hi Jaye, thanks so much for your suggestion! I did call roto rooter, why didn't I think of that? They found the problem was i needed parts replaced on my sump pump (which was in the crawl space under the house) which kept up with sink and toilet water from the house to the street city sewer, but got overloaded and not able to keep up with the washing machine, so sewar gas and smell would stay in the sump pump when it couldn't empty all the water from the washing machine fast enough and it would "gurgle" in the toilets when the washer was emptying out. Thanks again, no more smell, and I will continue to use all the other suggestions .

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    anatomynotes--I'm glad you found this information useful. Regular preventive maintenance of bleach and running hot water down the drain can keep the trap from going dry again.

    Jaye

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    Edmund Custers 3 years ago

    Interesting and useful. I guess the vinegar, baking soda and the bleach are to clean shower drain. Thanks for sharing this.

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Asrestoesop--Thanks for the feedback.

    Jaye

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    Arizona's Restoration Experts, LLC 3 years ago

    Interesting and informative. Great hub.

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Memento -- While I'm not a plumbing expert, I've experienced enough plumbing issues during my life (in various homes) to have a general idea about several types of problems.

    Your description leads me to think you may have a clogged vent pipe (the pipe that goes through your roof). Airflow is necessary for proper draining. A washing machine is a “forced” drain, so it needs airflow to empty properly. A clogged vent pipe forces air back out of the drain through the nearest opening, often a toilet drain. The gurgling sound you hear is air escaping the pipes.

    Another possibility is a partial clog in your washer’s drain, which will slow draining while forcing air and some water back through the pipe. Most plumbers can unclog stoppages using a plumber’s “snake.” If you have a Roto-Rooter franchise where you live, they are experts at finding and unclogging pipes throughout the home all the way to the main sewer line. They can even use a tiny camera on their "rooter" equipment to find clogs. It will cost money, of course, but should get your problem resolved. Best of luck!

    Jaye

  • memento 3 years ago

    hello- I also have intermittent sewer smell in the house. I am in a town with a public sewer system. The smell is downstairs by the bathroom and washer dryer which is in the closet.

    Sometimes, when the water is being emptied by the washer it "gurgles" up through the toilet drains, even upstairs. What is that? I called in a handyman, He couldn't figure it out. I called in a plumber, he couldn't figure it out. I hired a housekeeping team to clean the entire house. I had my renters pour water, bleach , hot water down the sink and shower drains, still no luck. It seems to be getting worse. Any suggestions without me having to spend more money for people to charge me to do nothing?

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    So true, Gail...

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    Gail Louise Stevenson 3 years ago from Mason City

    It sure does beat a plumber and is easy to fix. Plumbers are real expensive and hard to afford if you don't have much money.

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Gail...The toilet tank flush lever apparatus is one of the most frequently broken parts of the fixture, but also one of the easiest (and cheapest) to repair DIY. Only takes a few minutes and sure beats needing a plumber, doesn't it?

    Jaye

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    Gail Louise Stevenson 3 years ago from Mason City

    Your welcome. There are some easy repairs people can do that can save them a lot of money. I put a thing in a toilet that connects to the lever and it was cheaper than having a plumber do it. I forgot what the things was called. It has a little chain with it.

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, Gail...Thanks for reading my article and for your comments. The sewer backup your family experienced in an old house is not unusual. Many times this happens due to tree roots that grow into the pipes. It is, however, gross, and cleanup/disinfecting is no fun!

    Your mom's plumber friend sounds as though he was nice. I've met several good-hearted plumbers who were generous with advice.

    Jaye

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    Gail Louise Stevenson 3 years ago from Mason City

    Good advice and it should help people save money. Plumbers are so expensive! Sewer gas is really gross! I once lived in an old house when I was young, and the sewer backed up in the cellar. My mother and older sister had to clean the mess up. The whole house smelled awful for quite a while. My mother later knew a plumber and was his companion for a while. He was a real good plumber and had his own business. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years ago. His name was George, and he was very nice and generous-kind hearted soul. I voted up!

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, LazyLotus...First, let me say that I'm not a plumber, but I do know that smells that emanate from an actual toilet are usually because the wax seal may be out of alignment. Is the smell coming from the base of the toilet, or does the toilet itself "rock" if you try to move it? You may need a plumber (or someone who is very good at DIY) to replace the seal and re-seat the toilet fixture.

    Sewer gas should not be coming up through the bowl. The smell may be coming from other sources than the toilet. If you live in an apartment complex, they should have someone in their maintenance department qualified to fix this problem for you. If not, it may be necessary to call a plumber.

    Good luck!

    Jaye

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    Jackie 3 years ago from Pennsylvania

    I just moved into a new apartment that's been vacant for months and it has 1.5 baths, we've been smelling a foul sewage-like odor coming from the bathrooms and mostly toilets specifically... will this remedy also work with the toilets? I will definitely be trying your method on all other drains in the house anyway, but what would you do with the toilets? Plus.... they are brand new toilets. Thanks!

    jdh2013@verizon.net

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Michael...I'm so glad these methods worked for you! Yes, keeping that trap from drying out is the key to stopping sewer gas from invading your home again. Isn't running the water once a week such an easy "fix?"

    Thanks for commenting and letting me know it was successful.

    Jaye

  • michaelk69 3 years ago

    Thanks so much, Jaye - I followed your instructions to the letter and - it's been three days - and so far so good - I'm embarrassed to admit this, but this is a problem that we've been dealing with for five YEARS!! Tried every product on the market, lots of bleach, etc, but the smell kept coming back - never suspected (or heard of!) a dry trap - but you've got it, that's exactly what it was!! Will be sure to run the shower for 10 mins or so every couple of weeks - and (hopefully!) I'll have beaten the smell for good - thanks SO much for your help!!!

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    Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

    jimw....I'm so glad these remedies worked for you. It's great when we can get results with products normally available in the home without great cost, isn't it? Thanks for the feedback.

    Jaye

  • jimw 3 years ago

    Jaye this worked like a charm. Just running water didn't fix the problem. I tried that for a number of days to no avail. Thanks...

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, Keith....Sorry I didn't see your question before now, but I'm afraid I don't have an answer for you anyway. If your insulation was installed by an experienced contractor, it should not block any vent or aspect of your plumbing.

    However, I'm not a plumber, building contractor or expert, so if the home remedies suggested in my article (which helped me in a "dry trap" situation) do not rid your home of the sewer gas smell, you will need to call in a plumber to track down the problem.

    Good luck!

    Jaye

  • Keith 4 years ago

    There's a sewage smell in the house. I cannot pinpoint exactly where it's coming from. We just had the crawlspace insulated today and today is the beginning of the smell. I'm assuming it has to do with the insulation, unless its coincidence that its something else that happened to cause a problem on the day we had insulation installed. My question is, Is there anything in the crawlspace that may have been blocked by the insulation that is causing sewage gases to back into the house??? As a side note, I do have a shower in the Lower level of the house that is never used. I just went down and ran some water for a few minutes, as per your advice, as it could coincidentally be a dry "P" shaped trap. To soon to tell if that remedy worked. I will know in the next couple of hours if that was it. I will keep you posted BUT if you have an answer to my insulation question about a possible blockage of some sort please let me know. Thanks in advance for your help.

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, luckyinwv....I do hope this works for you!

  • luckyinwv 4 years ago

    Thank you for your information,I am trying it now.We have had a real problem with our one bathroom for months.I hope this works.Appreciate your article and will let you know tomorrow if the smell is gone.

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Sumguy2006....Thanks for reading and for your comment. Unfortunately, the smell lingered in my bathroom even with the window open, so I went on to the next step suggested by my research. I had the products handy and using them didn't seem like a lot of work for success--getting rid of that noxious odor. Since then, I regularly run plain water in that shower when it isn't being used for a while to keep the trap from drying out.

    Jaye

  • Sumguy2006 4 years ago

    Seems like a lot of work for what is essentially a dry trap. Simply filling with water fixes the problem. The drain should not smell after. Thats the lingering gas you smell. It just needs to air out. A little bleach doesn't hurt, but your drain always will have bacteria, no matter what. It shouldn't smell unless its clogged with excessive hair and soap scum.

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Wendy....If you've tried the simple remedies for sewer gas smell and they haven't worked, the vent may be blocked. At any rate, you're right--it's time for the plumbing pro! Here's hoping it will be a (relatively) inexpensive fix....Jaye

  • Wendy 4 years ago

    We have a sewer smell in our house. I think it is coming from our master suite shower on the third floor. We have tried everything. The drains are clear (no hair, etc.) My husband has pour bleach, boiling water, snake it..etc) Our house is only 4 years old. The smell comes and goes. It smells like 'poop' for a couple of days and then the smell is gone for 3-4 days only to come back again, stronger then ever. It is not that cold here, so I don't think it's a frozen vent. I have called a plumber and am hoping it won't be too expensive...keep your fingers crossed

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, Cody....Thanks for reading and commenting on this article. I appreciate your tips about the monthly (versus) weekly drain maintenance and not needing to keep adding vinegar.

    I do appreciate professional plumbers--very much! It's often a dirty job and requires specific expertise that the average homeowner lacks.

    After buying "this old house" years ago, I had the need to keep my plumber's phone number on speed dial and called it frequently. Finally, the major problems were all repaired. While I'm thankful minor issues such as a dry trap can be alleviated with simple measures, I would not hesitate to call a plumber for a more severe problem that needed professional expertise. Kudos to you guys (and gals) in the plumbing business!

    Jaye

  • Cody 4 years ago

    I've worked as a plumber for 6 years. It was a decent read, very simplified But effective.

    1. you don't need to keep using the vinegar in your drain, that was just to help remove the smell and bacteria along with the bleach in the 1st place.

    2. weekly maintenance is a bit much it takes months for that trap seal to evaporate(depending surrounding environment) I would recommend using the fixture to fill the trap once a month, keep your fixture cartridges from seizing. Good article though, thanks for the appreciation.

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, Carla. Since most people these days are trying to economize, it's good to know this problem can usually be eliminated without resorting to the expense of a plumber's services.

    Jaye

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    Carla J Behr 4 years ago from NW PA

    Thanks Jaye for the helpful tips. I went through something similar and your tips will no doubt help others. Nothing worse than that smell and good to know it doesn't always take an expensive plumber.

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    jodeci....Thanks for your comment. I'm glad you found this information helpful. It's great when you learn something that can get results while saving money....Jaye

    ~~~~~~~~

    ignugen17....Thanks for letting me know this info was helpful to you. I'm glad to share it and help people with this issue.

    Jaye

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    jodeci 4 years ago

    This information was very useful. It is true that you learn something new everyday.

  • ignugent17 4 years ago

    Thanks for the information. This is really very helpful.

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    vmp123....I'm always glad to learn about environmentally friendly products that really work. I checked both the URL you gave and Google'd "Stinky Drain Solution." The claim "lasts for a full year" is, however, misleading.

    From the way I understand the site's FAQs, the product will work (if it really works) for a year ONLY if you don't let any water go down that drain for a year. Once you use the drain again, the product is (according to the website FAQs), "purged" from the drain and any small amount left quickly degrades.

    Since the product will sell at $144 per six-pack when it becomes available in January, 2013, that seems like a pricey fix for an under-utilized drain. If the drain would be unused entirely for a year (such as a drain in an empty house), the cost would be worthwhile, but I can't see using such an expensive product for a shower drain that is used infrequently, but IS used sometimes...not when there are inexpensive products that will do the trick.

    Thanks for reading.

    Swilbanks....Older houses with rusting pipes can really cause major plumbing problems. My own "this old house" was built in 1962 and cost me thousands of dollars in plumbing fees about ten years ago. That's why I take advantage of DIY remedies now for minor problems when I can do so without calling the plumber. Since I replaced a lot of rusted pipe back then, not to mention the main line that had to be replaced after tree roots got into it, I no longer have to keep the plumber on speed dial, but for a few years, he was here a lot.

    I'm not a plumbing professional, so I wouldn't presume to advise you about your leak or rusted pipes. If you've already gotten two pros' recommendations, you will have to decide if you want to spend a lot of money now...or later.

    With a leak of more than a gallon per minute, that's a lot of wasted water you're paying for every time you wash a load of clothes or dishes, take a shower, flush the toilet or run the water for any purpose. If water bills are as high in Nebraska as they are where I live, you may be paying a lot for water you aren't even using. The total excess cost for the next few months (if you're going to move anyway) may be much less than the repairs suggested by the first plumber you consulted.

    So, you already know the cost for this big "fix" will be expensive. What I meant when I said pay now or later is that either you will have to pay to have this problem repaired properly while you live there, or, if you sell your home this spring, by law you will have to inform potential buyers about it--because YOU KNOW ABOUT IT. That form that asks the seller about known problems will require you to do so. Anyone who wants to buy your house will probably expect you to (1) fix it before the sale, or (2) reduce the selling price of your home enough to pay for the buyer to have it repaired. And most buyers pay a home inspector to thoroughly check for problems before they make an offer anyway. Seems like a Catch-22 situation, doesn't it? Bad plumbing can give you nightmares!

    Good luck, whatever decision you make.

    Thanks for reading....Jaye

  • swilbanks 4 years ago from Tulsa, Ok

    Great article. I live in a 1970 home on a slab with commercial grade yet deteriorating cast iron pipes. Most recently, I smelled sewage smells coming from kitchen drains. All bathrooms are on opposite side of home. Smell went away. Infrequently there are sewage smells though faint in master bath. Then shower and toilet and kitchen drains were very sluggish and then drained. Today there was a city water main line break in front yard. A month ago I had a plumber run a test where he filled up all drain lines with a stopper on outside. This test revealed a leak of gallon and a 1/4 per minute. It was going to be costly to determine and repair leak. Another plumber advised with full pressure on any lines of this age you will have some leakage. He advised just to be cognizant of future issues. I am moving to another place in spring I think. What is your opinion on my issues. House is on a slab. In 2009 had a 3' section of pipe cut out and replaced. It had rusted out. I am in NE Okla. thanks everyone.

  • vmp123 4 years ago

    I think this a great DIY article. For those that want a one stop shop there is a new envirofriendly product out called Stinky Drain Solution. For more information please visit www.stinkydrain.com. All you do is pour the product in your under utilized drains and no smells or anything will come through the drain for a year! Happy Holidays to all!

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, Cooper cook....Thanks for reading this article and for your comments. Dead mice in your drain was certainly an unfortunate happening!

    I, too, salute all the commercial plumbers who come to our aid when home remedies are not enough. They are wonderful!

    I hope you're now enjoying your new home with no more problems.

    Jaye

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, Jennifer and Jenn, for reading and commenting. Glad these tips worked for you. So nice to have it confirmed. Jaye

  • Jenn 4 years ago

    Yep ur right, I did what you said to do and so far it is working. I was told by my son inlaw to use the oil. I talked to a plummer and he had never heard of it??? Anyway, just running water in unused tubs & sinks will help. Thanks

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    Jennifer Eve 4 years ago from New York

    Thanks Jaye i like your article nice suggestion for us. Thanks for sharing this.

  • jennifereve110 profile image

    Jennifer Eve 4 years ago from New York

    There is no question about "Vote it up". Hmmmmm I must be ready for the contest now . . .

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    tipstoretireearly....Thanks for reading, and thanks for the additional tips! Fortunately (in the winter, at least), I live in a warm climate so ice is a rarity, but this might be helpful to other readers. Hope you and your loved ones escaped Hurricane Sandy's wrath. My grandson and his girl friend live in Brooklyn, and I was relieved to learn they were okay. I hope things get back to normal in your area as soon as possible.

    ocbill....Baking soda, vinegar and bleach have many uses around the house. The best aspects of using them is the lack of harmful chemicals (though you must be careful how you use bleach), and they cost less than chemical-laden products. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Jaye

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    ocbill 4 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

    I usually put a plug stopper in it or drip some cologne in there. This is for that sulfuric smell. Your mention of bleach, baking soda and vinegar are interesting.

    Did you know baking soda, vinegar, and even bleach are used for certain skin infections when all else fails?

  • tipstoretireearly profile image

    tipstoretireearly 4 years ago from New York

    Very helpful! Another source of sewer gas in the home can be a sewer vent blocked by ice in extremely cold weather. When the weather gets down to zero degrees F or so, the moist sewer gas can freeze as it vents above the roof, and the ice can form a cap blocking the pipe. The gas then enters the house since it can't escape. Its easy to knock off the cap--as long as you can safely reach it with something (which isn't always possible if the roof is high and covered with snow or ice).

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    HoneyBB....Thanks for reading and for the vote. I hope these tips help your friend get rid of the odor coming from his plumbing.

    faithbuilder23....Sometimes plumbers are necessary, but why pay the high fees if you can stop a problem with simple home remedies? I hope these tips work for you.

    Jaye

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    faithbuilder23 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

    Great hub!! Now I know what the smell is coming from my pipes. I don't have money for a plumber either..I will try these suggestions.

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    Honey Halley 4 years ago from Illinois

    Thanks, This information was very helpful. I have a friend who has a stinky bathroom problem and I will tell him to try this and to check his vent if that doesn't work. Voted+

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, Judy. I'm so happy this article was valuable for you.

    Jaye

  • judy 4 years ago

    excellent

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, Ali....That was a terrible "surprise" awaiting you, wasn't it? I'm so glad the tips in this article were helpful to you in getting rid of the smelly sewer gas. Jaye

  • Ali 4 years ago

    I work away from home 4 to 5 weeks at a time. When I came home this time I had the stinky sewer gas problem. This was a great help. Thanks

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    I'm so glad you found this hub helpful, Rusti. It's good when we can DIY and not have to call an expensive plumber. Isn't it amazing that running water through the drains weekly can help prevent this problem? Such an easy fix! Thanks for the "follow." JAYE

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    Ruth McCollum 4 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

    I feel like I could be a plumber now!lol seriously, I learned from this hub! I also have a guest bathroom and I ran to turn water on! Thankyou! Following you now!

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    I hope these thrifty "home remedies" get rid of that unpleasant smell for you, Audrey. It's good news when we can take care of a problem ourselves without having to call in the plumbing professionals.

    Jaye

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    Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

    I will have to give this a try. We have a bathroom that smells terrible sometimes--

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, Free2write3....I'm so glad you found this hub helpful. Jaye

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    Free2writ3 4 years ago from Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania

    Wow great hub. These are really helpful tips...

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, cbpoet....You can mistake me for fpherj any day of the week. She's not only one of my favorite writers, but one of my favorite people! : )

    It's safe to use vinegar and baking soda if you have a septic tank. They will bubble a bit, but that foaming action helps do the trick. Follow with boiling or very hot water.

    Also, hydrogen pyroxide with salt and baking soda can be used with a septic tank.

    You may use oxygen bleach with a septic tank, but NOT chlorine bleach because the latter may kill off the "good" bacteria needed in a septic tank.

    Various septic tank systems have varying needs for maintenance. Sometimes they just need to be pumped.

    Good luck!

    Jaye

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    cbpoet 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

    Enjoyed your hub fpherj48, This is definitely a problem I'm experiencing at the family cabin with the bathroom drain, however are the products you mentioned such as vinegar and baking soda appropriate when you have a septic tank . I've found that different rules apply in this case ....

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, furniturez....I hope you never have this problem, but if you should--you'll be prepared! Thanks for stopping by.

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    furniturez 4 years ago from Washington

    I've never experienced anything like this but it sounds quite serious! Either way it can't hurt to know about it and best of all how to fix it. Thanks so much!

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    prettynutjob & Hezekiah...I hope you saw my response to both of you in the same box below a long reply to Jason. Thanks for reading and commenting. JayeWisdom

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    MzChaos (I like that name--reminds me of my life at times!) Your flat drain cover may keep the smell contained, but don't forget that sewer gas buildup can sometimes become dangerous. Some of my research indicated that it might lead to an explosion. Just to be on the safe side, if you're sure the trap isn't dry, you may want to have the outside vent checked to be sure it isn't stopped up with debris. Thanks for reading and commenting. Glad you got a chuckle or two, as well....JayeWisdom

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    am301986 -- Thanks for reading and giving me feedback. I hope you never need this information, but if you do--you'll have it! JayeWisdom

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Jason…You are correct that a dry trap may be prevented by water—frequent use of all plumbing in a home so that traps don’t dry out. Anyone who has numerous water drains within a home should make certain that water runs through them at least weekly to maintain the trap properly. However, it takes MORE than water to resolve a nasty situation once a dry trap occurs.

    One of my sources is InspectAPedia, an online encyclopedia of building and environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair and problem prevention advice from formally trained and certified experts in all aspects of the building industry. One of their plumbing experts has this to say about dry traps that create smelly sewer gas odors inside a house:

    “We just pour mineral oil into unused traps to prevent evaporation of the trap seal.”

    I am not a plumber, nor am I an expert on this topic. I am a householder who encountered the very unpleasant odor of sewer gas from a shower drain and realized it might cause more harm than a nasty smell if not corrected right away.

    I did a LOT of research before trying the remedies suggested (by plumbers), and they worked. Had they not worked, I’d have called a plumber immediately. Since they did work for me, I decided to share this information with other people who might confront the same issues and want to try something easy (and inexpensive) before contacting a plumber.

    I’ve done further research since publishing this article in order to reply to comments, and I choose to rely on the experts. By the way, since I published this article, Heloise (the syndicated household hints guru) published a tip for banishing sewer gas by using baking soda, salt and vinegar, followed by running very hot water through the drain. I feel certain Heloise thoroughly checks out everything she intends to recommend for validity before publishing it, don’t you? Especially since her tips are published in numerous newspapers and magazines, read by hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions).

    Thanks for reading, Jason, and I’m glad you’re keeping your traps from drying out by frequently running water through them. JayeWisdom

    prettynutjob...Thanks! You're right about how dreadful the sewer gas smell is, and it might cause illness as well. It's important to get rid of it as soon as possible. JayeWisdom

    Hezekiah...I'm so glad you found a more congenial and pleasant place to live so you won't be bothered by unpleasant (and possibly unsafe) plumbing smells. Thanks for reading and commenting on this article.

    JayeWisdom

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    MzChaos 4 years ago from Indianapolis

    We also have a simple bathtub stopper, one of the flat ones that we just slid across the shower drain when its not in use...just in case. Normally, with use we don't have the shower smell issue but for some reason, every now and then it reoccurs, so we just slide the little plastic cover over it and it helps keep the odors down. You made me laugh in parts, well done article.

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    am301986 4 years ago from New Delhi

    Never thought of it...nice hub...learned a lot. Cheers!

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    Hezekiah 4 years ago from Japan

    Here in certain parts of Tokyo it's unavoidable, it really stinks sometimes and it irritates me. You would think that such a developed country with technology could solve it.

    I now live away from the city in Kanagawa, much better now.

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    Mary 4 years ago from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet.

    I had this problem at my old house it is one of the most dreadful smells I think I have ever smelt great hub voted up and useful.

  • Jason 4 years ago

    All that's needed for a dry trap is, hold on to your seats, water. All the other "remedies" have no effect, except those intended to keep the water from evaporating as fast. I'd recommend a weekly routine of using all sinks, showers, toilets, et cetera to ensure they don't go dry. Further, oils of any kind should not be poured into any drains, as they will coat the interior of drain pipes and contribute to clogs by trapping debris.

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    I did some research and read a forum about this topic in which someone else suggested that vinegar and baking soda wouldn't work, but numerous people in the forum (including a couple of plumbers) "shouted the naysayers down" by stating that the foaming action of using them together does help. Since baking soda stays soft and breaks up when the very hot water is poured after it, it's highly unlikely it would create an obstruction in the pipes. Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    The baking powder was one of the items I found that can be used; in my case, I didn't use it--only the baking soda.

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thank you, Anjo...I know that most people like to try and stop problems themselves and save money on repair (if possible). Any time a "home remedy" can do that...it's great!

    Jaye

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    Anjo Bacarisas II 4 years ago from Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

    voted up.. very useful. this direct suggestions are very diligent! thank you so much, you did a great job. :)

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thank you, hi friend... I'm so glad you found this article helpful. Thanks for your votes. Jaye

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    hi friend 4 years ago from India

    Vote up and awesome.

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Suraj....I hope this gets rid of the smell that's 'invaded' your new home. A new home should smell good! Perhaps the trap dried out after the plumbing was completed, but before you moved into the house. Once you get that issue resolved, here's hoping the bad smell goes away! Good luck! JAYE

    Zanda....I'm so glad you found this hub if you're having this "stinky" problem at your house. These inexpensive home remedies are worth a try before calling in a plumber (which won't be inexpensive). Good luck! JAYE

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    ZandaDee 4 years ago from Sydney

    Thanks Jaye, i wan't even looking for a solution for this problem that we've had in our house for a while. Great hub!

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    suraj punjabi 4 years ago from jakarta

    This is just what i was looking for. I have this same problem in one of the rooms in my house. It was built recently and is quite new. But the stink that comes out of it smells anything BUT new.

    I cant wait to try out your easy fix.and see how things work out. Will definitely give you an update on this. Thanx alot for the great hub! :)

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Pat....It won't hurt anything (and might help) if you try one or more of these "home remedies" for your shower smell. I'm surprised the plumbers couldn't find the cause. Did they check the roof vent to make sure it wasn't stopped up there?

    Even if you use nothing but vinegar or bleach followed by very hot water, then cold water, it may help. I hope it gets rid of the smell for you.

  • pat 4 years ago

    We get a sewer odor every time one of the upstairs showers is used. It took forever to narrow it down to this shower because the air conditioning would cause the smell to spread throughout the house. Now not sure what to do. Already had 3 plumbers come and they had no clue

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, Evelyn....My use of baking soda is explained in the first paragraph after the subheading "An easy fix." The baking powder was one of the household items I found suggested when researching the issue,, but I didn't use it.

    Another person recently commented that using vinegar and soda together (although I used them separately, but in sequence) causes them to cancel each other's effectiveness. I'm in the process of researching this issue, but vinegar alone will help if you don't want to use the soda. Bleach will, also. Good luck, and thanks for your comment.

    Conspirator -- Glad this worked for you, and hope it continued the next morning!

    intheknow -- Thanks for your comment. I'm doing some additional research about the use of soda and will respond to your suggestion when I've completed it.

    One thing I've learned--especially since the Green Movement touts vinegar for so many cleaning/refreshing uses--is that my late father-in-law (who swore by vinegar for getting rid of unpleasant smells) was ahead of his time. I keep a large bottle of vinegar handy.

  • Evelyn 4 years ago

    I see you have baking power and baking soda listed - but I don't see where you used the baking powder?

  • intheknow 4 years ago

    Vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base and should not be used together because thy cancel each other out. The idea of using one or the other is great. By using the baking soda you may cause an unwanted obstruction in the pipes. Baking soda will help eliminate most odors and that is why it was suggested. Vinegar helps clean the pipes and kills bacteria much like bleach but without the smell. Hope this helps.

  • Conspiritor 4 years ago

    Thank you so much. I just started having this problem a couple hours ago and tried a version of your remedy based on the logic behind them, and it seems to have worked. Let's hope it lasts till the morning

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks for your very detailed comments and advice. (Are you a plumber by any chance? You certainly seem to know what you're talking about here!) I will try your recommendations and, if they obtain the desired result, edit my article to reflect them.

    Again...thanks for your thoughtful advice. I would not want "overkill" to cause any additional problems.

    Jaye

  • Guest 4 years ago

    If sewer gas is the problem, just keeping the trap wet will work in most cases. Run the water for a few minutes to replace any old water and refill the trap to a full level. The frequency will depend on various factors. Some traps are shallower than others and some climates are much drier so they will evaporate faster.

    The baking soda, vinegar and boiling water is likely overkill imho. If you are getting smell after the trap is full, I would dump a 1/4 cup of bleach into the drain and let it sit overnight.

    I would be a bit concerned about dumping a gallon of boiling water into a cold set of pipes. If you really must do this (and I don't see any reason why you would as the bleach is going to kill anything the boiling water would) start with a pot of warm water first. You also want to limit oil going down your drains as it will build on the inside of drains pipes and constrict flow, much like cholesterol in your arteries. :-)

    I like the idea of the mineral oil, but a tablespoon would be lots. In fact a teaspoon would be enough just to seal the surface of the water, and all this will do is to slow the evaporation down. Four ounces is way more than you need. To see for yourself, pour cooking oil into a glass of water of water and see how much you need. The drain in a sink or a shower is probably no more than 1+1/2 inches inside diameter, so it will not take much to give you a 1/4 of oil above the water.

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    hi friend 4 years ago from India

    nice

  • JayeWisdom profile image
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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    I'm glad you found this information useful. I didn't realize the extent of the "sewer gas through the shower" problem until I noticed the number of times this article is read daily. That made me realize many people are trying to get rid of sewer gas from this source, "Googling" the keywords that call up this article. Since these home remedies may work, it's certainly worthwhile to try them before calling a plumber, the expensive option.

    Thanks for reading, friend. Regards, JAYE

  • hi friend profile image

    hi friend 4 years ago from India

    useful

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks for stopping by my hub, Brett. If you should experience that problem again, I hope my suggestions will help resolve it. Stinky sewer gas is no fun (and can be dangerous).

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    Brett Caulton 4 years ago from Thailand

    Voted up and useful! I wish I had read this earlier this year, as having a basement apartment I was suddenly faced with this problem occasionally. I cured it each time with a small bottle of bleach diluted and poured slowly down the drain ... not the best I know, but when you can't speak the language, it is hard.

    Thanks for SHARING

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    Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks for your comment, alocsin. The photo does "tell a story", doesn't it? Sewer gas is not only unpleasant, but can cause health problems or worse.

    Jaye

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    alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

    This is a great explanation of sewer gas and I love the opening picture. Voting this Up and Useful.

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    Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Hi, jorja...I'm so glad my "home remedy" worked for you, even modified, since there's nothing that smells one's house up worse than sewer gas seeping inside.

    I have three bathrooms (three showers)and, since one of them gets very little use, I've made a habit of running hot water in the shower for several minutes at least once per week, running water in the sink and flushing the toilet. That helps keep the problem from occurring again.

    Hope you had a wonderful holiday. Happy New Year! JAYE

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    jorja kick 5 years ago from southeast georgia

    OMG!!!! You saved me!!!! and it worked!!!

    thank you....

    though I cheated and only used vinegar!!! I need to remember to use that bathroom more often!!!!

    great information...

    jorja

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    Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks for stopping by, Simone. I hope the method I described works for you. It's great when you can resolve a stinky drain problem without having to pay a plumber. However, it's also best to keep the number of a licensed plumber on speed dial, just in case!

    :- )

    Jaye

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    Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

    Gosh, I had no idea this was even possible. I'm thankful for your explanation and troubleshooting advice!

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    Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, Keith...As you've no doubt discovered, DIY must be very simple for me to try it. Had my stinky problem required real WORK, it would have been necessary to bring in the plumber. It was good for me (and also my pocketbook) that the simple remedy worked. Google search engine is a lifesaver for DIY-challenged people such as I.

    Thanks for stopping by....Jaye

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    attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

    I've never had a shower blow up underneath me, but now i'll be wearing a suit of armour, just in case. Or maybe i'll remember your useful advice, it being a better plan be. I do a lot of problem solving in my job, usually with calculated guesswork. But i've finally woken up to the fact that googling, is a much better proposition. Nice one Jaye.

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    Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Thanks, writeronline....If you recently encountered a whiff of sewer gas in your guest bathroom, you know the importance of keeping your shower drain's p-trap wet. I hope the simple remedies I suggested are helpful to you for long-term prevention.

    (By the way, I like puns!)

    Jaye

  • writeronline 5 years ago

    Great hub Jaye, clear, concise, yet comprehensive.

    And very timely for me, since I just the other day reduced the not-too-bad odour in the guest bathroom, by running water from the seldom-if-ever-used shower. But, based on your helpful advice, I'll revisit the whole thing and use the more permanent preventive measures you describe.

    I hope you've 'backwashed' (sorry..couldn't resist)this hub's tags, so it's now recognised in the contest. It would be a worthy contender, imo.

    Cheers

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    Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

    I hope it is helpful, fpherj48...and I did write it for the contest, but had so many technical difficulties getting it published that I FORGOT to let HP know it's a contest entry. Thanks for the reminder!

    Good luck with getting your problem from the next-door lot resolved. Living with sewer gas (even if outdoors) is no fun!

    Thanks,

    Jaye

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    Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Jaye....This is timely for us! The sewer smell in our immediate area, is not coming from inside the house, however, it is coming from the sewer trap in our lot next door. It permeates everywhere. If our windows are open, it's awful! We called the Town workers the last time this happened & whatever they did, the odor subsided. But we're very concerned that it recurs. I realize the danger is not as serious due to it being outside, but it is time to call the Town again. This is a great hub and I'm sure will be helpful to many. Did you write this for the contest on "a plumbing hub?" If so....you will WIN!

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