Experiencing problems with your plumbing can be stressful, but when those problems are accompanied by a foul odor, it’s even more urgent to attend to them. One of the smelliest plumbing problems you might encounter is a problem with your sewer line when sewage isn’t draining away from your home.
If you think this is happening in your home (because of pungent odors in the basement, wet spots on your foundation, low water pressure and sunken patches in your lawn) don’t delay; you are at risk for flooding, and you should get it fixed ASAP.
Barring that problem, there are really three main reasons behind the odor. Here is what you need to know:
1. Blockage Preventing Ventilation
If something is preventing proper ventilation of the pipes and drains, sewer gases will not move as they should away from your home. In some cases, a blockage caused by an animal nest or other debris can actually create a suction effect, where gases are diverting right back and up into your drains and into your home.
This is problematic- and not just because it smells bad. It’s not healthy for your family to inhale these gases. Arrange to have your drains inspected and cleaned.
2. The Trap
If your plumbing has been properly installed, each fixture has a trap attached to it. In most cases, it is shaped like a “P”. It works by holding on to a little bit of the drain water and creating a plug between the drain and the smelly sewer gases coming from below.
If that water isn’t there (either because the sink, toilet, shower, etc. hasn’t been used in a while or if the seal is broken) then there is nothing blocking the flow of sewer gas.
If the seal is broken around the trap, it will need to be repaired. If you run the water, it might be enough to refill the trap and create a new water plug.
3. Water Heater Smells
If you think that the smell is coming from your water rather than your drain, it may be because of your water heater. Fill a glass with water, and if it still smells, then you are dealing with your water heater.
More specifically, this problem is likely caused by the anode rod in your water heater. If your water is too hard or too soft and the mineral composition is off, it interacts with the anode rod to release stinky sulfuric gas.
Switching the anode rod for a new one is easy.