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Rick
Rick, Construction Supervisor
Category: Plumbing
Satisfied Customers: 13654
Experience:  Licensed Master plumber with 40+ yrs. experience.
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Hi, we are getting a strong sewage smell in our house. I noticed

Customer Question

Hi, we are getting a strong sewage smell in our house. I noticed it most last night while the washing machine was running. It was very cold out last night if that makes any difference. The odor is most noticeable in our furnace room where the main drain line, vent pipe, as well as a sump well with an ejecter pump for the below ground bathroom.

We have a septic system and the house is about 60 yrs old. We had the tank pumped about 10 months ago. We did have a clog in the line between the house and the tank earlier this year due to tree roots, hair and a paper towel.

I'm thinking we either have another clog in the main line or the vent stack is clogged. There is no backup currently and no gurling noises coming from drains or toilets when used.

Any thoughts on where I should start?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Plumbing
Expert:  Rick replied 2 years ago.

Rick the plumber :

Welcome to Just Answer, I will do my best to help you solve your problem

Rick the plumber :

It sounds like either there is no trap on the washer drain or the trap have siphoned out (typically due to improper venting) and is allowing sewer odor into the house

Customer :

I think we had a trap installed on that line last year.

Customer :

the smell wasn't really noticeable in the laundry room.

Customer :

It might not be vented properly

Rick the plumber :

Is all your drainage piping above the basement floor?

Customer :

I'm pretty clueless where plumbing matters are concerned.

Customer :

yes

Rick the plumber :

there are 2 likely causes of sewer odor in a house

Rick the plumber :

either a trap has lost its seal due to siphoning or infrequent use

Rick the plumber :

the fix is to simply dump some water down the drain

Rick the plumber :

or a broken vent line which could be concealed in a wall

Customer :

dump water down which drain? fyi.. we use more water than a normal household. My wife runs a small hair salon out of our home. It's a one person operation but she's typically busy. We had professional grade hair trap installed under the shampoo bowl.

Rick the plumber :

not a hair trap a plumbing trap (P-trap or drum trap)

Customer :

right

Customer :

I told you I know little about plumbing :)

Rick the plumber :

I've listed the likely causes. There isn't much more I can do from here. You may need to call a plumber to check this out

Customer :

this morning I don't smell anything so that would make sense with your diagnosis?

Rick the plumber :

This type of thing can come and go especially with a septic tank. It doesn't change my answer but you might want to wait for it to return before calling in a plumber

Customer :

so, it doesn't sound like a clogged drain line? In other words, hold off on renting the snake?

Rick the plumber :

If nothing is backing up you don't have a clog

Customer :

also, does the really cold weather come into play a all?

Rick the plumber :

probably not

Customer :

how would I know if the vent stack was clogged?

Rick the plumber :

extremely unlikely

Rick the plumber :

unless the stack is 2" or smaller pipe

Rick the plumber :

and you get sub zero temps

Customer :

ok. you said poor water down the drain. you mean any drain?

Rick the plumber :

I said infrequent use

Rick the plumber :

allows the water in a fixture trap to evaporate

Customer :

no sub zero temps. all of our drains are used pretty frequently. When you said a broken vent line, not sure what that means..

Rick the plumber :

That's what you need a plumber for.

Customer :

can you briefly describe?

Rick the plumber :

One of the vent lines could be broken

Customer :

vent lines to what?

Rick the plumber :

On the plumbing system

Customer :

ok

Customer :

I could get 29$ to say "call a plumber"

Rick the plumber :

??

Rick the plumber :

I just spent half an hour with you exploring the problem and answering your questions.

Rick the plumber :

I can only do so much from here. If nothing else I saved you the expense of renting a snake for nothing

Customer :

thought you might have more diagnostic questions since it's an old house, septic, etc.. I'll call the plumber.

Rick the plumber :

Thanks for using Just Answer

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