6 Potential Reasons Your Bathroom Smells Like Sewage

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A bathroom likely isn’t the first place that you associate with rosy smells, but that doesn’t mean it should smell bad. If your bathroom smells strongly or frequently of sewage, you may be dealing with a serious issue.

It’s important to know that there are many reasons that your bathroom could end up smelling like sewage, and not all of them require a plumber. Identifying the reason behind the smell could help you save a lot of money. That’s why we’ve created this guide that can point you toward the reason for a sewage smell in your bathroom.

We’ll explain some of the most common causes behind sewage smells in your home, and whether or not you’ll need to hire a plumber to take care of them in the following sections:

  • Shower Drain Clogs
  • Sewer Backup
  • Dry, Dirty, or Broken P-Trap
  • Sewer Gas Leak from a Broken Toilet
  • Septic Tank Issues
  • Bacteria Growth

1. Shower Drain Clogs

Damage potential: Low to Moderate

Plumber required: Rarely

A shower may be the place you get clean, but all the dirt and hair that you leave behind can lead to drain clogs. If left unattended, these drain clogs can become a breeding ground for bacteria, and could even eat away at your pipes. Both pipe leaks and bacteria-laden clogs can lead to some pretty unfortunate smells emanating from your shower drain.

The good news is that a clogged shower drain can typically be handled without a plumber. The only time you would need to call a plumber to clear a clog is when it is so stubborn none of the at-home solutions seem to be doing the trick.

For a more detailed explanation of how to handle this pesky problem, view our article “How to Clear Shower Drain Clogs.”

2. Sewer Backup

Damage potential: Low to high

Plumber required: Depends on the volume of sewage

A sewer backup stinks, literally, but it doesn’t always mean a huge issue is at hand. In some cases, after heavy rain, the sewers in your area can become overloaded, leading to sewer gases being physically pushed back into homes. While the smell itself may be vile, the actual potential for damage is fairly low in an instance like this.

However, if the sewer backup is so severe that it actually pushes sewage into your home, you have a real problem on your hands. This can destroy pipes, cause illnesses, and damage your home. To avoid this, it’s recommended you call a plumber to add a backflow valve into your sewer lines. These helpful devices prevent sewage backup from making its way into your home, whether gas or liquid.

3. Dry, Dirty, or Broken P-Trap

Damage potential: Moderate

Plumber required: Sometimes

A P-trap is a U-shaped bend in your shower drain pipe and other pipes in your home. These areas of a pipe use trapped water to prevent sewer gases from flowing back into your home. Sometimes, the P-trap can dry out, which may lead to sewer gases flowing into your house. Thankfully, the solution for this is simple: just run your tap for a few minutes to replenish the water in your P-trap.

If that doesn’t solve the issue and a sewage smell persists, chances are your P-trap is broken. In this instance, you need to call a plumber immediately. A broken P-trap can lead to leaks and other problems that could spell major damage to your home.

Finally, P-traps can get dirty, in which case you’ll notice a musty smell coming out of the drain rather than the more sulfurous smell of sewage. In this case, you can clear it out by pouring equal parts of baking soda and vinegar down the drain (make sure to pour the baking soda first). After pouring the vinegar, cover the drain for 10–15 minutes and then run your tap. This should clear out any grime caught in the P-trap.

4. Sewer Gas Leak from a Broken Toilet

Damage potential: Moderate

Plumber required: Yes

Sometimes, the wax seal around your toilet can fray, allowing sewer gases to make their way into your bathroom. While it may sound like something that’s simple to fix, you actually need to uninstall the entire toilet in order to replace the wax ring. It’s recommended that you hire a plumber to handle this issue. Doing it on your own could lead to a broken toilet, which may be more costly than you’d imagine.

5. Full Septic Tank

Damage potential: Low

Plumber required: No

Some homes have a drainage system connected to a septic tank. If your home is one of those and you’re noticing a sewage smell in your bathroom, check the tank first. If the tank is full, then all you need to do is drain it. Your local government should have guidelines on how to dispose of waste from your septic tank, so make sure you are following those rules before you pump your septic tank.

6. Bacteria Growth

Damage potential: Low

Plumber required: No

Nasty as it may be, sewers create the perfect environment for bacteria growth. In some cases, this bacteria growth can make its way all the way up to your toilet bowl.

Luckily, the solution to deal with this is fairly simple. To get rid of the bacteria growth, fill your toilet with a dilution of bleach and water then scrub it with a toilet brush. Additionally, you should add some of the bleach mixture to the toilet tank and flush several times. If the bacteria issue persists, don’t be afraid to add bleach to your tank a few more times and repeat the process.

Call Mr. Rooter to Leave Your Bathroom Smelling Fresh

No one wants their bathroom to smell like sewage. But if the solutions in this article aren’t getting the job done, then it’s time to call the pros. The plumbers at Mr. Rooter have years of experience solving plumbing issues and are sure to have the solution to your pipe problems.

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