Sewer issues may result from several different causes but they all have one thing in common. You can’t ignore the smell. There’s a good reason for that. Sewer gas, the source of that unmistakable odor, is hydrogen sulfide, a notoriously pungent odor that the human sense of smell is particularly sensitive to. Released by the reaction of bacteria with the organic waste in sewage, in even relatively small concentrations hydrogen sulfide tends to permeate the whole house with an airborne message you can’t miss: you’ve got sewer issues.
Here are some of the main suspects for sewer smells in the home:
- Sewage backup. If a clog or other obstruction develops in the sewage lateral pipe that runs beneath your front yard and connects to the main municipal sewer at the street, sewer gas may emanate from low-lying drains in the basement and elsewhere, followed soon by raw sewage.
- Dry or defective trap. The U-shaped trap in all of your home’s wastewater drains holds water that seals sewer gas out of the house. If the trap dries out from disuse, or due to a leak in the trap, the absence of water will allow sewer gas to infiltrate your home.
- Damaged drain line. If a leak or disconnection occurs anywhere in the span of drain pipe between the sink trap and the household sewer line, sewer gas will be emitted from that break, along with wastewater when the sink or fixture is used.
- Non-functional sewer vent. Your household plumbing system incorporates open vent pipes to equalize pressure differences that result from wastewater moving through the drain pipes. These vents also release sewer gases to the exterior of the home, usually where the vent pipes terminate on the roof. If one or more vent pipes become blocked, the resultant build-up of sewer gases will escape through other routes inside the house, such as an untrapped pipe or poorly sealed joint.
For more information on tracing sewer issues to their source, in the Chicago area please contact Black Diamond Plumbing & Mechanical.
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