Tips For Diagnosing Causes Of Septic Or Sewer Odors

It's dangerous to have sewer gases leaking into your house. They have a pungent smell, are a health risk, and may also lead to an explosion. Here are a few tips to help you diagnose the source of sewer gases in your house:

Drain Cap Left Off

If you are lucky, then the problem may be nothing more than a cap left off. The sewage effluent is supposed to flow through a closed system from their origins in your plumbing fixtures to their final destination. A gap may appear, for example, when a cleanout port isn't closed off after a service session. If such a gap appears near the house, for example where the main waste line exits the building, the sewer gases escaping it may find their way back into the house. A physical examination of your sewer line should help you determine if this is the case.

Damaged Drain Line

If the cause is not a cap left off, then it may be due to a damaged drain pipe leaking gases into the house. What is worse, it doesn't take a big crack to leak sewer gases, even a small fissure that doesn't leak much wastes can let considerable gas pass through.  Moreover, the crack can occur inside a ceiling or ceiling cavity, which may be difficult to discern with your naked eye. Therefore, you may need the intervention of a plumber to help you diagnose hidden cracks.

Damaged Vent

Plumbing vents are installed to direct foul gases safely outside the house. Therefore, a damaged vent will leave your house foul smelling, for example, if the crack occurs within the wall or the ceiling cavity. Such damage may occur, for example, if you carry out a DIY repair on a vent and fail to seal a connection properly.

Improperly Vented Fixture

An essential role of a plumbing vent is to provide the plumbing system with atmospheric pressure so that the pressure inside the plumbing system is equal to the one outside it. If there is an imbalance in this pressure, then the water in the U-shaped trap of the affected fixture gets sucked away. This allows the obnoxious gases in the sewer system to leak into the house.

Here are two other signs that point to improper venting of fixtures:

  • The smell emanates from a single plumbing drain
  • A plumbing fixture or drain makes gurgling noises when in use

These are the common reasons sewer gases may leak into your house. Call a plumber if you can't pinpoint the source of the leak, or to fix the problem once you have identified it.