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There is nothing worse than smelling sewage in your home. Whether it comes from the pipes, the bathroom or the basement. If your home smells of sewage you have a serious problem and you need to fix it straight away.
Not just that, you need to also know where the smell is coming from and why it’s coming so that you can make sure it doesn’t happen again.
What is that foul smell coming from your basement?
That foul, rotten egg smell which is invading your home is actually hydrogen sulfide. It is a colorless gas which has a strong odor which not only ruins your sense of smell, but can also cause a number of health related illnesses.
The effects of inhaling hydrogen sulfide can vary. You can have a range of minor symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, irritation of your eyes and respiratory system, insomnia and stomach upset. However, prolonged exposure to hydrogen sulfide can cause the effects to escalate dramatically. It can lead to convulsions, coma, loss of consciousness and even organ failure.
Its seriousness is highlighted by the fact that people who are most at risk of suffering because of hydrogen sulfide exposure are natural gas, oil and petroleum workers, sewage and wastewater workers and factory workers dealing with rayon textiles.
It may be useful to know, especially for the environmentally folk amongst you who have installed a septic tank may find the tank to be the source of the problem!
So if you have a smelly basement, you need to act fast to fix it, not just for the smell but also for your health!
What is making your basement smell like that and how do you fix it?
There are a number of different reasons why your basement is smelling like human waste, because this smell, especially if caused by water pipes, can also affect other parts of your house, including some appliances. This could result in your dishwasher or washing machine smelling like sewage. So let’s go through the most common reasons and what we can do to fix it.
- Floor drains or water traps are designed to hold a small amount of water to stop sewer smells and gasses from rising and releasing into your home. Over a period of time, and primarily because of a lack of use, the water can dry up and the seal can become undone.
Solution: Experts advise pouring a gallon or two of water down the drain or water trap to bring the water levels back to what it should be and reseal the drain. You can also throw some fresh smelling cleaner in to give it a kick start.
- There’s another mechanism in your drain designed to keep sewer gasses out called a clean out plug. When you remove the grate which covers the drain and you should see the plug, if all you see is a never ending hole, it’s quite likely that the plug was removed at some point whilst cleaning and forgotten to be put back. So the next time you get your drains cleaned, make sure that plug goes back where it belongs!
Solution: Every DIY store holds these drain plugs so just go down to the closest one and get it. Installing them is very simple and they come with instructions on how to do so.
- If your toilet is old and has started to wobble, it can dislodge or crack the wax seal around the toilet. The seal can also crack over time if it is poorly installed. You find this seal around the flange, which is the pipe that connects the toilet to the drain pipe in the floor. Sewer gasses can escape through any cracks of the wax seal.
Solution: You have to replace the wax ring with a new one; however, this may require you calling a professional as the toilet must be removed.
What if none of those work? Can the problem be more serious…
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. If you have tried all of the above, mostly DIY solutions, you’ll have to call the professionals in. Often it turns out that there is a damaged or cracked sewer line. Fixing this is a costly and time consuming process, but given the smell you have to put up with, and the damage it does to your health, you don’t have much of a choice.
Even though a professional plumber will be doing the job, it’s good to know what their main options will be to fix your smelly problem.
One of the things your plumber can do is to create a new pipe within your old one. Sounds complicated, but using a special epoxy soaked felt liner, a fancy industry word, this liner can be put inside the old pipe and then expanded. Given a few hours to set, when the old pipe is removed the new one is a ready-made replacement. What’s more, is that it will only take half a day’s work.
Another measure which won’t take too long, is spray lining or brush coating the inside of the pipe. You spray the pipe with a resin made from polymer which is malleable. This then covers whatever cracks or holes there are in the pipe and acts as a filler, so this way you don’t have to install a whole new pipe.
The final solution, which is the most costly and time consuming and unfortunately it’s not something you can do yourself. If the sewer line damage is too deep, you have to call a plumber who will have to come and replace the entire line itself…let’s hope it doesn’t get to that.
What can you DIY to improve the smell for the time being?
Fixing the problem from the source takes time, you have to try different things to figure out the source of the issue, and then go about actually fixing it.
In the meantime, that horrible smell will still be there. So here is a temporary solution.
Mix together white vinegar, baking soda, fresh smelling laundry detergent and some boiling hot water and pour it down your stinky drain. This should give you some temporary relief!
How to find a reliable plumber
You may be an avid DIY’er, but when things get serious and you have to call in professionals, it can turn into a nightmare. You have to trust people to know what they’re doing and also be honest with you. So what can you do to make sure you don’t get the wrong people in?
Customer reviews are your best friends. Search the internet and go to someone with a strong online presence who has a large number of believable customer reviews. Similarly, you can ask your family and friends, and someone is bound to have personally used a professional they were happy with. It’s important to do your due diligence as it will be sure to pay off in the long run!