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Rick
Rick, Construction Supervisor
Category: Plumbing
Satisfied Customers: 14035
Experience:  Licensed Master plumber with 40+ yrs. experience.
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We have a sewer/sulfur like smell in our basement. strongest

Customer Question

We have a sewer/sulfur like smell in our basement. strongest in a small room where the house trap is. When i remove the plugs i feel a different smell from the one in the room. A video inspection was conducted by a company and they found what looked like a root penetrating the pipe about 45" toward the stack. They said they had a technique to cover the pipe without excavating and the smell would go away. BS! The smell persisted and when I called them they came in again and said the drain pipe was not the problem and it smelled more like a dead animal. I later found the vent was clogged. Cleared it. The smell still there after 24 hrs. All the traps in the house are ok. No outside drain. The smell travels to the main floor specially when the heat (oil) is turned on. I'm removing the wood paneling on the wall of that room to see if there's any mold. But i smelled through one of them and nothing.
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 with your problem

Rick the plumber :

Do you have a sump pump pit in the basement?

Customer:

no

Rick the plumber :

If you're sure there are no traps that have lost their seal then the only other likey cause is a broken vent line

Rick the plumber :

Is the fresh air vent for the house trap intact?

Customer:

as far as I could see from the side of the house to the elbow and then inside next to the house trap intact as well

Customer:

why is the smell concentrated in that part of the house? the front of the house in the basement where the the house trap is. nowhere else

Rick the plumber :

That's why I asked about the fresh air

Rick the plumber :

typically there are no other vents in that area

Customer:

that vent doeasnt travel a long distance just five or so feet up and then maybe three to the side of the house. No noticeable damage

Rick the plumber :

Then I suspect your patch job is not gas tight.

Rick the plumber :

The only likely sources for sewer gas in a house are a broken vent or a dry trap

Rick the plumber :

or a busted line below grade that's seeping into a perimeter drain to a sump pit

Customer:

what about their explanation that it smells like a dead animal instead? are they trying to get out of it the easy way? what's another possibility for that kind of smell? mold is kind of humid smell not rotten. or is it?

Customer:

I dont know that we have a sump pit

Rick the plumber :

Mold has a musty smell. A dead animal usually doesn't have a sulfur type odor, sewer gas does

Rick the plumber :

But odors are pretty subjective.

Customer:

I think we go into the public sewer main

Rick the plumber :

That doesn't change my answer

Customer:

what should be my next course of action?

Rick the plumber :

I'd call in a plumber to look into this. If the patch job guys were plumbers call a different one

Customer:

ok. If a video inspection is done. Should I expect to see nothing going through the pipe or the patch job is just around the object that went through and they were to seal any hole?

Customer:

should I excavate and replace the part of the pipe that was damaged by this object or was patching enough/

Customer:

?

Rick the plumber :

Unless there is an unobstructed path for the sewer gas to escape from an underground piping defect it's very unusual for a broken sewer line undergroung to be the source of sewer gas odor

Rick the plumber :

I'm not a fan of patching anything

Customer:

I'm beginning to feel the same. What should I expect to pay for excavation and replacement of that fragment of the pipe? there is access to the place where it is located

Rick the plumber :

It's next to impossible for me to say since i don't know the onsite conditions or the condition of the adjacent piping. Even if I was onsite the best I could do is give you a (pretty wide) range since there is no way of knowing if more than just a small section will need to be replaced.

Customer:

ok. I guess Calling another plumber should be the next step. One last thing. When I remove the plugs on the house trap I put my nose close to the opening and the smell coming from there are different. Not as slfury (if that's a term) Does that tell me it could be something else or sewer gases could also be getting into that particular room through a different source?

Rick the plumber :

Like I said smells are very subjective so your description doesn't help much. There is only so much I can do from here, these are questions for the guy doing an onsite inspection

Customer:

ok. Thanks for your help

Rick, Construction Supervisor
Category: Plumbing
Satisfied Customers: 14035
Experience: Licensed Master plumber with 40+ yrs. experience.
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