How To Get Rid of Sewer Smell In A House

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Sewer smell has got to be one of the most embarrassing things that could ever happen to a house—There is no excuse for a foul-smelling home.

The worst thing about sewer smell is the fact that there is no cover-up remedy for it.

You can't ignore the smell no matter how hard you try. Even the cleanest nice-looking house will put off most people if it smells like the sewers.

Not only does the sewer gas smell bad, but it's also hazardous to your health. It includes harmful chemical substances like Methane, Ammonia, and Hydrogen Sulfide—Which when inhaled, will cause dizziness, memory loss, and poisoning, among many other detrimental side-effects.

Why does it smell like sewer in my house? How do I get rid of the smell?

The main culprit we're looking at is sewer gas. The next step is then figuring out how the sewer gas is finding its way into your house.

For some, the situation gets worse during the rainy season. Most people are quick to blame it on outside stagnant water.

Sure, that might be the culprit. However, it rarely is. Most of the time, the amplification of the sewer gas smell is triggered by problems in your house's plumbing system.

Below are some of the possible causes for sewer gas smell in your house:

Sewer back-ups caused by drainage clogs.

Septic-related problems.

An old toilet wax ring.

A spoilt water trap.

1. Sewer back-ups caused by drainage clogs

Sewer back-ups are easily the most common culprits for sewer smell in houses.

Just as the name suggests, sewer back-ups refer to a situation where your home's waste materials find their way back up your drains and into your living space.

Sewer water is a gross mixture of all your household's waste products disposed of through the drainage system.

Sewer back-ups are usually a sign that a part of the drainage system is clogged and, therefore, flooding. This can be as a result of pipe and drain blockages triggered by poorly disposed wipes, paper towels, eggshells, thick paint, and many other things you should never throw down the drain.

How to fix

You might have to call in a plumber for this task.

The fix can be as easy as locating where the sewer back-up is happening. Then, unclogging the system at that point.

2.  A spoilt water trap

Some people also refer to the water trap as “The P-Trap” due to it’s shape.

The water trap is an important component of your household's plumbing system whose main function is to prevent sewer gas back-ups.

The water traps are installed in all your water points like toilets, sinks, and many other places.

Just like any other device, the water trap becomes faulty from time-to-time. Most of the time it faults as a result of old age hence the sewer smell in your house.

How to fix

If it's spoilt, your only course of action is to replace the water trap.

You can do it yourself thanks to many online DIY videos on the subject.

Nevertheless, we still advise you to call in a professional.

Why? Because you can never be too sure if you’ve found a permanent solution to the problem.

These things require an expert to diagnose the entire system and figure out if any underlying issues might be causing the sewer smell or are likely to damage your water trap in the future.

No, your sewer back-up repairs don’t have to be expensive. Check this Surex post about sewer back-up coverage options you can choose from.

3. Septic-related problems

This is for those of us who use septic systems. Most people tend to think that septic tanks and systems are immortal.

Sure, they have an incredibly long lifespan. However, they are still prone to damage and are mostly not going to last a lifetime.

Most of the time, you'll notice that septic-related sewer smells tend to get stronger during rainy spells.

So, what causes septic tanks and systems to fail?

Poor septic maintenance and blockages are the two main culprits.

Most of the septic blockages are a result of tree branches or root clogs.

You might also want to take a look at cracks on your sewer line. These cracks allow for rainwater to flow into and fill up the septic tank.

The in-pour rainwater will displace the sewer gas in the septic tank, causing it to rise. The displaced sewer gas will then find an outlet inside your house (A cracked or loose pipe).

How to fix

Never attempt to fix this yourself. Quickly call in a profession for diagnosis and consultation on the way forward.

4. An old faulty toilet wax ring

So, what is the toilet wax ring, and where is it located?

It's more of a seal installed at the base of your toilet responsible for sealing the area between your toilet and its drain pipe.

An old, faulty, and broken toilet wax ring will leak foul gases into your living space. It only gets worse if you continue using the toilet after the seal is cracked and leaking.

How to fix

Your only course of action is to replace the leaking toilet wax ring.

It’s quite the process—You’ll first have to drain the toilet then remove it to access the ring.

You’ll then have to scrape off the old toilet ring then clean the area with vinegar before you install the new wax ring.

Sewer gas smell in the house can be a very persistent problem, and that is why surface cleaning rarely does the job.

Sure, cleaning some surfaces might reduce or even stop the smell for a while. However, after a couple of days, the sewer smell will be back.

Plumbing solutions are the most reliable way of stopping and preventing in-house sewer smells from happening again in the future.

If you’ve got no idea where to start, call in the professions. They’ll know what to do.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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