What to Do If You Smell Sewer Gas

It’s important for you to know what to do if you smell sewer gas around your home. What’s the difference between sewer gas and natural gas? Natural gas smells like rotten eggs and sewer gas smells like sewage.

The main cause of this smell is from your sewer lines backing up and sewage coming into your home. This smell could be coming up from the bottom of your toilet or it could be coming up in your shower. Then you’ll notice the smell of sewer gas. 

Another Cause of Sewer Gas Smell: P-trap Problems

There’s another factor that can cause this smell. Underneath all your sinks and any floor drains and built into any toilet, you have something called a P-trap. This is a place where the piping in the drain or toilet is shaped like a letter P with the curve of the P at the bottom. 

The purpose of the P-trap is to hold water in the bottom of the curve. At one end of the P, there’s the outgoing drain. The other end is where the water enters this curved pipe from your sink or toilet. 

There’s always water in that curve at the bottom of this construction. That makes a water barrier that stops sewer gas from coming straight up out of your drain or toilet. 

P-traps can wear out, especially old chrome P-traps. They get a little tiny hole in the bottom and the water drips out. When enough water drains out, sewage gas starts coming up.

If there is a P-trap in a floor drain, the same thing can happen with the result that the blockage created by the water reservoir disappears.

Washing Machine Smells

The biggest reason I have found for sewage smells is when someone has a washing machine set up but they don’t use it. 

There is a P-trap in the wall by the washer. The homeowner calls me because they smell sewer gas. And I come to the house and I sniff around and I stick my nose by their washer and the sewage is coming straight up there. And I get a cup of water and I pour it into the top of the overflow tube and that fills the water reservoir up and that stops the sewer gas smell from entering the home.

I hate charging people $100 to do that, but I’ll do it. 

What to Check if You Smell Sewer Gas

If you smell sewer gas, here’s what you can do:

  1. Pour water in all your P-traps.
  2. Look underneath your sinks and see if water’s leaking out of any of these visible P-traps. 
  3. If these steps don’t fix it, call Rocketman Plumbing at 505-243-1227 and we’ll come out and fix the cause of the problem.