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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    5

    Default Getting Desperate: Sewer Smell

    Hello TOH,

    Recently we purchased a new home. It was originally built in 1895 and was remodeled and gutted several times soon. Inspection was clean. We moved in and immediately noticed a sewer smell in the master bath.

    Had a plumber come out, he cut open the wall by the tub and saw the tub was not trapped. He installed a trap on the tub. Since we intended to redo the shower soon, we did not touch it, instead we just put a airtight cap on the drain incase it also was not trapped.

    Later we would discover that it was trapped wit a big 2inch trap already.

    The smell went away and we hired a remodeling company to come build us a new shower.

    Maybe 50% into their work, they removed the plug and the smell came back. Their plumber said it was because the trap was dry since the shower had not been used in a while.

    We ran water. Smell persisted. We plugged the the drain in the shower but this time the smell persisted.

    I assumed that they punctured the vent in the wall when installing the new concrete board, so I had them remove the drywall on the other side. Vent is fine, there is no damage, it is all sealed with the purple primer stuff. And there is no smell coming from inside the wall.

    However, in the new shower, which is tiled floor, walls and cealing, you can still smell it.

    The drain is plugged.

    The vent pipe is installed correctly

    All the other drains in the bathroom are trapped and the traps contain water, and i closed the drains on them all also.

    The tub has been filled with water to rule out that. The overflow protector is taped off.

    And yet ONLY inside the shower can you still sense the odor.

    I am running out of ideas and I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions or thoughts that may help.

    This is a true mystery.

    We have done the pepper mint test with no rael results, and I will do a smoke test soon, but I am not sure it is going to uncover anything.

    Thanks in advance for any ideas

    Dan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,498

    Default Re: Getting Desperate: Sewer Smell

    A dry trap will produce this kind of smell...Fill the trap with vinegar, let it sit for a day and see if the smell is gone.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Getting Desperate: Sewer Smell

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    A dry trap will produce this kind of smell...Fill the trap with vinegar, let it sit for a day and see if the smell is gone.
    Thanks for the response. We have made sure, beyond any doubt, that all the traps are full of water. We've filled them with bleach and left it overnight. I am happy to try vinager also, but you must understand that we have tried all the obvious:

    - traps (both removing walls to visually inspect that they exist and making sure they are full of water by jamming some rolled up paper towel and it coming out wet.) We have also plugged all the drains by using air tight plumbing plugs and the smell persisted after that.

    - vents (removed the walls, inspected the vent pipes, epoxied on the outside of all the joints--also note the smell is not inside the wall)

    There is no smell in any other part of the house. It is literally around the master shower. All the traps and vents are there.

    This is not something that the obvious has resolved. We've been trying to fix it for 30 days straight! Please help

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
    Posts
    1,208

    Default Re: Getting Desperate: Sewer Smell

    The very first thing that you should check is the wax seal on the toilet. This is one of the major causes of sewer gas entering the home. In many cases a failed wax seal won't show any water leakages but will leak sewer gas. Your last resort would be a smoke test. If done correctly it will definitely give you the location of the sewer gas leak.

    John

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Getting Desperate: Sewer Smell

    Quote Originally Posted by johnjh2o View Post
    The very first thing that you should check is the wax seal on the toilet. This is one of the major causes of sewer gas entering the home. In many cases a failed wax seal won't show any water leakages but will leak sewer gas. Your last resort would be a smoke test. If done correctly it will definitely give you the location of the sewer gas leak.

    John
    Hi John, I am hoping to do a smoke test on Monday. Finding a plumber with experience doing them is hard.

    I had the toilette removed, resealed and replaced yesterday. Later the same day the smell returned.

    It is actually really, really frustrating. The shower is covered in tile, brand new, and the smell seems to appear inside of it only. Not near the john, but in the brand new shower. what is most perplexing is it is entirely sealed with grout, tiles and new fixtures.

    I will let you know if a smoke tests helps but let me know if tehre are any other ideas. This is crazy, my contractors have no clue at this point

    Dan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,969

    Default Re: Getting Desperate: Sewer Smell

    If its not the terlit, I would like to know how far from the shower / tub is the trap for the shower / tub ? If it is too far away you can have problems.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Getting Desperate: Sewer Smell

    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonRemodeler View Post
    If its not the terlit, I would like to know how far from the shower / tub is the trap for the shower / tub ? If it is too far away you can have problems.
    The trap is maybe 6 inches from the shower drain. The drain pipe cuts over, then has a 2 inch deep trap from the shower. The tub's trap is directly connected.

    But please note that the shower drain itself has been plugged with an air tight cap to see if the smell stopped when it was capped. The smell did not stop, even when it was capped.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
    Posts
    1,208

    Default Re: Getting Desperate: Sewer Smell

    Quote Originally Posted by danushman View Post
    Hi John, I am hoping to do a smoke test on Monday. Finding a plumber with experience doing them is hard.

    I had the toilette removed, resealed and replaced yesterday. Later the same day the smell returned.

    It is actually really, really frustrating. The shower is covered in tile, brand new, and the smell seems to appear inside of it only. Not near the john, but in the brand new shower. what is most perplexing is it is entirely sealed with grout, tiles and new fixtures.

    I will let you know if a smoke tests helps but let me know if tehre are any other ideas. This is crazy, my contractors have no clue at this point

    Dan
    Without being able to see what has been done in previous remodels it's hard to pinpoint your source of sewer gas. There could be old lines that were not capped properly. Do your smoke test that will put you on the right track. Let us know how you make out.

    John

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sand Springs, OK
    Posts
    467

    Default Re: Getting Desperate: Sewer Smell

    Is it possible that the vent is too far from the shower causing a vaccum of sewer gas to be sucked back up that line?

    What is the chance that the drain between the trap and the joint (which should be a y joint right?) for the shower is lower than the potty, sink or tub and gasses are being pushed back into the pipe from use of those other drains in the bathroom?

    Isn't there a "flapper" system/one way valve which can also be added to the line which allows liquid to escape but not allow air to reinfiltrated the line the wrong way?
    Debby in Oklahoma

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Getting Desperate: Sewer Smell

    Quote Originally Posted by johnjh2o View Post
    Without being able to see what has been done in previous remodels it's hard to pinpoint your source of sewer gas. There could be old lines that were not capped properly. Do your smoke test that will put you on the right track. Let us know how you make out.

    John

    We did the smoke test this morning. The first floor immediately filled with smoke through the hole we made under the master shower.

    We had to make another hole further down the wall, and we found a vent pipe just sitting there sticking up, uncapped, not connected to anything. It was venting into the wall. It was directly below the master bath, that was just uncapped entirely. You could see smoke billowing from the vent. It is in a very tight spot and will be costly to repair, right now it is capped off with a lose fitting cap and the smell has reduced (not gone away.) Plumber will be here tomorrow to repair it and will perform another smoke test after it to make sure there are not anymore lose vents in the house like this one.

    I will update this thread once that is done.

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