We’ve all been there. You walk into your home expecting the usual comforting ambiance, only to be greeted by an unwelcome, foul odor that makes you want to turn around and leave. That distinct sewer smell is enough to send anyone running for the hills. But what causes this stench, and more importantly, how can you prevent it from invading your home? Let’s dive into the world of sewer smells, explore their common causes, and learn some preventative measures to keep your home smelling fresh. 

Five Common Causes of Sewer Smells In The Home

Although this list is not complete, here are five reasons we find are the most common ones for foul-smelling living spaces.

Dry P-Traps

P-traps are the U-shaped pipes found under sinks, showers, and tubs. They hold a small amount of water that acts as a barrier to prevent sewer gases from entering your home. When a P-trap dries out, often due to infrequent use of the fixture, those nasty gases can sneak through and leave behind a memorable but unpleasant odor.

Blocked Vent Pipes

Vent pipes are part of your home’s plumbing system and help regulate air pressure while also allowing sewer gases to escape outside. When these vents become blocked by debris, leaves, or even the occasional bird’s nest, the gases have no place to go but back into your home. You will know immediately that your vent has become blocked by the offensive smell.

Broken Or Cracked Sewer Lines

Your home’s sewer lines are the pathways that carry waste away from your house. Over time, these lines can become misaligned, and develop cracks due to aging, tree root intrusion, unexpected ground movement from nearby construction, or possible earthquake activity. When this happens, sewer gases can escape through the pipe openings and find their way into your home.

Loose Or Damaged Toilet Seals

Toilets are sealed to the floor with a wax ring to prevent water and sewer gases from leaking out. If this seal becomes loose, dried out, or damaged, it can allow sewer gases to seep into your bathroom, creating an unpleasant odor. It may also cause your toilet to move or tilt which can be dangerous.

Improperly Installed Or Damaged Plumbing Fixtures

Sometimes, the issue can be as simple as a poorly installed sink or shower. If the plumbing fixtures aren’t correctly sealed or installed with the proper fittings, it can create gaps between pipe segments. This allows an escape route for sewer gases to penetrate your living spaces.t

Preventative Measures To Avoid Sewer Smells

As with all plumbing problems, prevention is the key. Here we will suggest five tasks that will help prevent sewer gases from invading your home.

Regularly Use Your Drains

To prevent P-traps from drying out, make it a habit to run water down each drain at least once a week. If you have a guest bathroom or a basement shower that doesn’t get much use, pour a gallon of water down the drain periodically to keep the P-trap filled. This simple step will keep infrequently used plumbing in good working order without any real investment of time or money.

Clean Your Vent Pipes

Keep an eye on your vent pipes and ensure they are clear of debris. You can do this by visually inspecting the pipes that extend from your roof. If you’re not comfortable climbing up there, consider hiring a professional to check and clean them for you. It does not take much to block the vent pipe. Even a stray tennis ball, which is just the size of a vent pipe, can seal it off.

Maintain Your Sewer Lines

 Regular maintenance can help prevent sewer line problems. This includes having your sewer lines inspected and cleaned every few years. If you notice signs of trouble, such as slow drains or gurgling sounds, address them promptly to avoid bigger issues. Despite your wishes, plumbing problems never are resolved by ignoring them!

Check And Replace Toilet Seals

Periodically check the seals around your toilets. If you notice any signs of water leakage or if your toilet rocks slightly when you sit on it, it may be time to replace the wax ring. This is a relatively simple DIY project or, if you feel this is beyond your skill level, you can call a plumber for assistance.

Ensure Proper Installation Of Fixtures

When installing new plumbing fixtures, make sure they are properly sealed and installed. This is not the time to skimp and try to save money. New fixtures should be of the highest quality that meets your budget. If you’re not confident in your plumbing skills, hire a professional to do the job. This can prevent future problems and give you the peace of mind every homeowner is seeking!

When To Call A Professional

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, sewer smells persist. If you’ve tried the above measures and the smell remains, it’s time to call in the professionals. Plumbers have the tools and expertise to diagnose and fix issues that might fall outside of these suggestions. An inspection will get to the root of the problem and will allow the professionals the opportunity to visually see other potentially developing issues.

Looking To Find The Cause Of Foul Odors In Your Home?

Sewer smells in the home are unpleasant and can make your living space uncomfortable and embarrassing to guests.. Understanding the common causes and taking preventative measures can help you avoid this stinky situation. Regular maintenance, proper installation, and a bit of vigilance go a long way in keeping your home smelling fresh. And remember, if all else fails, don’t hesitate to call us at VIP PlumbingOK so we can get to the bottom of your problem. After all, your home should be a stink-free haven. Give us a call today for courteous and exceptional service!