Why Does My Bathroom Smell Like Sewage?


A bathroom shouldn’t become an overlooked part of anyone’s house. A nicely maintained and remodeled bathroom contributes value. Taking care of a bathroom, however, also involves staying on top of plumbing maintenance issues.

Sections of the plumbing system connect to the sewer, and sometimes the bathroom might fill with a “sewage smell.” Hoping the problem goes away may not work, and the smell might end up lingering into other areas of the house.

When you discover an odd sewer smell, concerns may arise about why the problem is happening and how to address it. Several reasons could reflect the causes for the problem, and, thankfully, a visit from a plumbing company might result in a fix.

Damaged or Leaking Pipes

Unsurprisingly, a leaky pipe could be the source of the problem. When drain pipes leak, the dripping water might cause more than water damage to walls, floors, and ceilings. The leak may affect a pipe’s ability to keep out sewer gases. A pipe doesn’t need to leak a significant amount of water to lose its protectiveness, either. A slight leak could drain water from the P-trap.

A “P-trap” refers to a U-shaped section of the pipes that collects a small amount of water. The water acts like a natural barrier that keeps sewer gases from coming up the pipes and out of the drains. If the P-trap or its seals start to leak, the water level necessary for the barrier to work decreases. Gases may start to enter the bathroom, bringing with them a noticeable smell.

Upon noticing the smell, you could check the P-traps under the sink and toilet for possible leaks. Water dripping and forming puddles on the ground would be a clear sign that repairs become necessary, but even slight moisture on the pipes may be a red flag. Again, it might only take a small reduction in P-trap water for the trap to fail at its job.

Also, water leaking from the P-trap could end up damaging the floor and walls. “Mere” moisture could contribute to mold growth, as well. So, taking immediate steps to deal with the problem seems advisable.

Additional P-Trap Concerns

Not all P-traps appear visible from inside the bathroom, though. The shower drain likely connects to a P-trap hidden away inside the walls or under the floor. When a sewer smell comes up from the shower drain, the issue could be with the P-trap hidden from sight. A plumber might locate the “hidden” P-trap without any problems.

A point about P-trap and sewer smell problems requires mentioning here. Sewer gas comes from bacteria, and the gas might contain hydrogen sulfide, methane, ammonia, and more. You might have understandable health concerns about sewer gases. High amounts of the gas might become toxic, and even frequent exposures to lower levels could be harmful. Under certain circumstances, sewer gases may cause an explosion. Such information should prompt you to call a plumber the second you notice a sewer smell.

Homeowners in Atlanta concerned about sewer lines and the rest of the plumbing system can call Bardi for help. Our team handles plumbing repairs, leak detection, pipe replacements, drain cleaning, and more.

Clogged Drains

A clogged drain could cause several annoying issues, with an overflowing sink being one of them. And yes, a clogged drain might give off a sewer-like smell. Clogs may lead to a backup of waste, and waste contains bacteria. The bacteria, as noted earlier, might give off an unwanted sewer smell.

A complete and total blockage isn’t necessary for a clog to contribute to a sewer smell. A partial clog in the line could find bacteria and waste collecting around it. Once the waste collects, even in small amounts, it may produce sewer gas.

Clearing out the clog might eliminate the problem, but doing so might require help from a plumber. Access to the right tools, combined with experience, may allow a plumber to get rid of a clog. Once the clog goes away, hopefully, so does the smell.

Cracked Sewer Pipes

Sewer pipes serve the fundamental purpose of taking waste far away from a home. Age, wear and tear, and other factors could cause damage to sewer lines as time passes. Any holes and cracks in the pipes may lead to waste leaking out, collecting, and breaking down. Cracks and holes in the pipes also make it possible for sewer gas outside the lines to enter. The gases could travel up the lines and into a house through drains.

The problem won’t likely go away until someone fixes it. Maybe removing and replacing the damaged pipes represent the only solution. Relining the pipes might be a less costly option, if possible. A plumber may decide on the proper fix after an inspection.

Tree Root Catastrophes

Over the years, tree roots may grow uncontrollably. If sewer pipes end up in the way, something may have to give. The roots could damage the pipes, leading to leaks. Again, leaks and cracks may result in sewer gases traveling through the lines.

Homeowners may find themselves requesting both plumbing repairs and tree root removal services. While potentially costly, removing roots and trees might be unavoidable, or else the problem could repeat.

Toilet Seal Troubles

Bathroom plumbing comprises many different parts and components, including the toilet seal. The “seal” refers to a gasket made from a wax ring located at the bottom of the toilet. The seal helps prevent water leakage while also creating a barrier that blocks sewer gases.

A seal could suffer cracks and other problems due to age. Sometimes, repeated and even a slight shifting movement from the toilet could break a seal. If this happens, then the gasket won’t perform its job, and gases may enter the bathroom.

Check the caulk at the bottom of the toilet, as well. Not only will damaged or worn caulk not protect against moisture, but damaged caulk could also allow sewer gases to enter the bathroom.

Setting Up Routine Plumbing Maintenance Visits

Routine plumbing visits allow a professional to check things out. A thorough plumbing inspection could pick up any problems in the bathroom and elsewhere. A plumbing inspection doesn’t necessarily need to happen every year, as every two years may suffice. That said, an annual review might not have any drawbacks.

Discuss the arrangement with a top plumbing company to help figure out a schedule. When the inspections occur, they help you stay on top of any issues and correct them at the earliest point.

The Bardi team stands at the ready to help homeowners with their plumbing needs. Our company also provides heating and air conditioning work, along with insulation, duct cleaning, and plenty of other services to keep your home in tip-top shape. We’ve been in business since 1989 and can point to an Angie’s List Super Service Award. Call today to schedule a visit from a team member.


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