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How to Know if That Smell is Coming From Your Plumbing

Posted by Gary Gray on Aug 30, 2019

smelly-laundry

What's that smell? It smells like sewage or rotten eggs. Is it coming from your plumbing? Is it dangerous? What should you do about it? There are a number of different things the smell could indicate. If you suspect it could be a plumbing issue, here are some problems to check for, and what you can do about them.

An Unused Drain

If you have a drain in the house that isn't used very much, the smell might be coming from there. Typically, as water goes down the drain, some of it flows into the P-trap and stays there. That water creates a seal or barrier that prevents sewer gas from flowing up the drain and into your home.

However, if you don't use the drain for a long period of time, the water can evaporate, getting rid of the seal. The solution is simply to run the water through that drain for a few minutes, every week or two. This will refill the P-trap and reform the barrier that keeps the sewer gas out of your house.

Clogged Drain Vent

If your drain vent is clogged, that can also cause various plumbing odors, including sewer gas. If one of your drains is running slowly, that's a good indicator of a clog somewhere. You should also listen for a gurgling sound as water drains, or as you flush the toilet. This means that air is unable to flow out of the drain vent, and is instead getting into your pipes - and thus your home.

With a screwdriver, a plumbing snake, and a few other simple tools, it may be possible to unclog the drain vent yourself. Or, if you prefer, you can call a plumber.

Rotten Egg Smell

If you come home one day and smell rotten eggs, it's most likely hydrogen sulfide - the smell of sewer gas. If the issue isn't one of the ones mentioned above, then it's likely a sewer gas leak. Our noses tend to adjust to this smell quickly, so even if it disappears, there still could be a sewage problem. Call your plumber immediately to fix the issue.

You might have heard that rotten eggs indicate a natural gas leak, and that the smell means you should evacuate and call 911. However, the smell added to natural gas is more like a skunk than rotten eggs. Sewer gas doesn't require evacuation or emergency services, but it can still be harmful if inhaled over an extended period, so call the plumber as soon as possible. If anyone in your family experiences these symptoms:

Call a doctor. Harmful effects tend only to happen after prolonged exposure, so if you spot the problem quickly and get it taken care of, you should be fine.

If All Else Fails

If you've checked everywhere and still can't figure out what the smell is, or where it's coming from, then it's time to call a professional. They'll help you identify the source of the smell and fix the issue.

An odd smell in your home can be annoying, but it's nothing to worry about. As long as you know what to look for and have a trusted plumber whom you can call on when you need them, you can keep your plumbing in working order and your home odor free. To learn more about sewer gas or to schedule routine plumbing maintenance, give David Gray Plumbing in Jacksonville, FL a call today at 904-204-4360 or contact us online.

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