A Detailed Guide to Tackling Harmful Sewer Gas Smells in Your Home

Homeowner recoiling from sewer gas smell in Edmonton home.

Imagine waking up on a sunny morning with the motivation to start your day strong. But as soon as you reach your kitchen or bathroom, the stench of rotten eggs hits your nose. You have taken your compost out and flushed the toilet the night before, so what causes this unpleasant odor?

You will soon realize that it’s a sewer gas smell, invading your home with harmful bacteria. The technical term for this smell is hydrogen sulfide, which describes the act of bacteria using oxygen to decompose organic matter in wastewater to create energy to thrive. We associate septic wastewater smells with rotten eggs.

Septic wastewater smells are the last thing Edmonton's homeowners want. To stop this nuisance from spreading further, we need to identify the potential causes. There are several ways to go about it as well as precautions to take because these gases are explosive and pose a great danger to you and your family. Even temporary exposure can cause minor health problems, such as dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. We recommend you take immediate action and report the sewer gas smell in your house.

Your first-choice plumbing team at Mr. Rooter of Edmonton is happy to solve this problem once and for all. From clogs to damaged sewer lines and drains, we’re here to help you stay safe in your home. We guarantee that your plumbing system will be in good hands if you let us do our magic.

How Toxic Is Sewer Gas?

Depending on how high the exposure level is, sewer gas has shown to be toxic to one’s respiratory and oxygen systems as it contains hydrogen sulfide, methane, and ammonia. In more severe cases, it could lead to organ damage and death.

Sewage may also contain more harmful microorganisms like viruses and other parasites.

Pro Tip: Even if our noses can detect the smells, remember that some gases are odorless. For enhanced safety, you can get a sewer gas detector to monitor the presence of combustible gases and sewer leaks.

Causes of Sewer Gas Smells in House & Bathroom

Some sewer gas smells are harmless, and you can quickly fix them. Whether the smells come from your kitchen or bathroom sinks or main line, let's take a closer look at the causes and measures you can take to eliminate them.

Dry P-Trap

In dry climates like Alberta, this is likely to happen, even more so, if you don’t use certain facilities for a long time. Sewer systems need water movement to work properly, such as our p-trap (or water trap), which is a U-shaped pipe that traps water inside the curve and blocks unwanted gases from seeping through the sinks. However, it runs dry during a period of inactivity, giving gas access to your home. A leaking p-trap could also be the culprit. We recommend running your tap for a few seconds to get your p-trap back in working order. If the sewer gas smell in the house persists, we will have to look at other causes.

Loose Toilets

Your toilet might not be tightly fitted to the main line, allowing the gas to leak out. Or it could be a failing wax ring on the closet flange (part of the toilet that secures it to the floor and connects to the drain pipe). Other warning signs include a wobbly toilet and water leakage from around the base.

Clogged Cleanout, Sewer Trap

Your sewer cleanout is an important part of your home’s main sewer line. Depending on your plumbing structure, it’s either in the basement or outside your home. It’s a short pipe with a cap on it, giving plumbers easy access to your sewer line in case of clogs. This convenient access allows them to diagnose the root cause quickly. A sewage backup is highly likely when you experience wastewater coming through your plumbing fixtures, such as drains, sinks, and toilets, spreading a sewer gas smell in bathroom and other areas.

Clogged Floor Drains

Basement floor drains aren’t commonly used, which means that they might be dried out and need some water flow to get going again. That would be one way to try and fix it. If unsuccessful and the sewer gas smell continues to spread, you might have a damaged pipe, which a professional plumber can diagnose for you with their sewage video camera.

Faulty Ejector Pump

If your basement has a sewage ejector pump (an essential system for preventing sink, toilet and bathtub backups due to excess wastewater), make sure it’s adequately sealed with a fitted lid. It would also help to inspect the waste discharge pipe and vent pipe for damages or clogs.

Blocked Air Vents

Air vents are responsible for circulating toxic gases away from your home. When blocked with debris and dirt, sewer gas will build up in the pipes and escape into your home. An experienced Edmonton plumber can confirm that bathrooms and laundry rooms are vented accordingly and check if all your vents are tied to your entire home.

Leaks, Cracked Pipes

Mainline leaks are most common for nasty sewer gas smells. Wastewater could leak into your basement towards the sump pit, which activates your sump pump that directs that water away from your home. To identify your main line issue, you will need a professional plumber’s pipe inspection equipment. At Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton, we provide fast results with troubleshooting options that are efficient and affordable.

Sewage Backup Signs and Causes

This is probably the least favorable for Edmonton homeowners. One of our plumbing system’s main purposes is to remove wastewater from our homes effectively to keep us healthy. Sewage backups make us fear contamination and costly plumbing repairs. But before we jump to any conclusions, it’s important to stay calm and consult a trustworthy expert.

What Is a Sewer Line?

Your home’s main line or sewer line is one of the most crucial exits because it directs liquid waste to the sewer system or septic tank. Your sink, toilet, and bathtub drain lines are the secondary lines connected to the main line. Stubborn clogs and damage to the pipe can cause a series of problems if not taken care of immediately.

Damaged Pipes

This is not easy to detect on your own unless your drain lines show backup problems or repeated gurgles. While these symptoms can also indicate severe clogs, look out for water leaks and sewer gas smells. If you know for a fact that you have old pipes, it’s likely they’re corroded and suffered a collapse. Other culprits could be tree root penetration in pipes. A pipe installation professional can give you options for sturdy PVC pipe replacement.

Other causes include clogged cleanout and other clogged plumbing fixtures, such as an overflowing toilet or sewage around a floor drain.

Preventative Maintenance - Drain Cleaning Services

We often take our plumbing system for granted and forget about any yearly maintenance services it may require. When pipes and fixtures function properly, it doesn’t mean their performance will forever hold up. Even natural home remedies that include baking soda, vinegar, and hot water won’t always solve your problems, especially if the root cause is of a more serious nature.

Mr. Rooter Plumbing can help extend your plumbing system’s life expectancy and secure your peace of mind. When scheduling annual drain cleaning services and pipe inspections in your Edmonton home, we guarantee healthy main lines and drain lines for years to come.

If we identify old vulnerable pipes that need replacing, we will let you know, and you can count on us for transparent upfront pricing as we don’t charge overtime fees.

Clients’ FAQs about Sewer Gas Smells

Learning about the potential sewer gas dangers, you can never be prepared enough to combat this problem as it usually involves underlying issues that we need to investigate. Safety comes first, and we want to ensure Edmonton homeowners know the ins and outs of appropriate measures.

What do I do if I Smell Sewer Gas in House?

Locate the affected area and try to determine its severity. Sometimes it’s a harmless dry p-trap that only requires some running water. More serious situations include plumbing vent defects which you shouldn’t handle alone.

Because sewer gas carries harmful bacteria, viruses, and other chemicals, it poses a health hazard to humans. Or worse, in the event of visible sewer sludge, it's safest to call a licensed plumbing professional to help with proper removal.

Does Sewer Gas Come & Go?

Not usually. Depending on how strong the odor is, check if your lower levels are most affected by this stench, as that can indicate an underlying plumbing problem.

On the other hand, minor problems, such as biofilm accumulation, can trigger sewer smells in bathroom or kitchen sinks too. Some DIY cleaning would come in handy. Use a screwdriver to remove drain covers and then run a brush through the drains to clear out debris.

Can Sewer Gas Make Me Sick?

Yes. It’s more than an obnoxious odor, which is why it’s important to take any signs or symptoms seriously. If you noticed the rotten egg smell but failed to take action, you may lose your sense of smell for it. From here, your symptoms could worsen into headaches, nausea, fatigue, and irritated eyes, followed by respiratory issues. Exposure to highly concentrated methane gas can lead to poisoning and cause permanent damage to your brain and heart. If you believe you’ve been exposed to these toxic gases, seek medical help immediately.

How Come My Water Smells Like Sewage?

We recommend identifying the exact source by closely examining your tap water and drains.

In this particular case, bacteria is likely growing in your drain. And since local tap water is cleaned with chlorine, it interacts with organic matter in your pipes which have contaminants. While chlorine disinfects the biofilm, it’s still in our drinking water. The more organic material in our water, the worse the odor.

It could also originate from your water heater if the only time you notice this smell is when you’re in the shower. Perhaps you have shut off your water heater for some time, or it’s at a low temperature. While not harmful, it would help to look at it. Turning up your water heater for a day should help flush out the pipes. If not, a pro should test your water for contaminants.

Will Sewer Gas Cause an Explosion?

Methane gas and hydrogen sulfide are highly flammable and will become more concentrated when accumulating inside your home. That will increase the risk of fire and explosions.

Can My Carbon Monoxide Detector Detect Sewer Gas Leaks?

The short answer is no. That’s because carbon monoxide is burned fuel combined with low-level oxygen, whereas sewer gas is a mix of toxic and non-toxic gases stemming from organic matter. However, you can purchase a hybrid alarm that also detects explosive gases, including methane gases.

Pro Tip: Remember that “gas leak” is a broad term. Therefore, when you decide to purchase a sewer gas monitor, you want one that detects hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and other combustible gases like methane.

Need an Efficient Sewage Expert in Edmonton?

Whether you smell funky water or sewer gas in your home, Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton provides quality service with effective results, using high-end technology for your plumbing needs. We are available 24/7 for emergency needs, so you can rest assured that you won't ever have to wait in line for service.

Give us a call to speak with our friendly customer service representatives about your needs or preventative plumbing solutions.