How to Get Rid of the Sewer Smell Around Toilets

How to Get Rid of the Sewer Smell Around Toilets

Plumbing
How To
By Mateos Glen Hayes February 17, 2022

The bathroom is one of the most important parts of any home. It is so useful that it is essential, and no home can be complete without it. For this reason, keeping your bathroom in good working order is crucial since life could come to a grinding halt without a working bathroom.

Alas, even the most diligent of us may still encounter some smelly problems in the bathroom from time to time. This is especially true if you live in one house for many years. The fact is that with time things can wear out, break, and outlive their lifespan and need to be replaced.

Fortunately, while some unwanted smells suddenly appearing in your bathroom can be unpleasant, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something has gone horribly wrong. In some cases, a simple fix is all that is needed to solve your stinky problem. The key is knowing when a DIY solution will do and when it’s a good call to get the pros involved.  

Problems With Vent Pipes

Vent Pipe Blockages Can Cause Sewer Gasses to Enter Your Home

Vent Pipe Blockages Can Cause Sewer Gasses to Enter Your Home

Every sewage system has a venting system that helps prevent smelly gasses from building up in your pipes and seeping out into the bathroom. However, if your vent pipes break or get clogged you’ll start running into problems. A telltale sign that a vent pipe is the cause of the unpleasant smells in your toilet is a bubbling sound coming from the toilet or drain caused by sewer gasses seeping into the bathroom. The other sign is of course a sewer smell around the toilet.

There are a bunch of reasons that a vent pipe could go wrong. It could be that solid objects have built up in the system and caused a blockage, or it may be that your vent pipe was not properly installed. You can try to clear the blockage yourself by taking a look at your vent pipe but if you don’t feel confident messing around with plumbing it’s best to call a professional.  

Overflowing Septic Tank

Full Septic Tanks Can Cause Problems

Full Septic Tanks Can Cause Problems

If you are not connected to a sewage mainline, your plumbing likely sends sewage to a septic tank that is typically buried in your backyard. Septic tanks do need to be checked regularly to ensure that they don’t become full. If your tank does fill up it will cause a host of issues.

Aside from an unpleasant smell, you may also notice your toilet become more sluggish when flushing and you might also hear some suspicious bubbling sounds. Fortunately, the solution here is quite simple, although you will need a professional to help you out. Simply drain your septic tank if it becomes full and be sure to check it on a regular basis so it doesn’t catch you off guard in the future. 

Bacteria Invasion

Bacteria Can Make Its Way Into Your Bathroom Through the Toilet

Bacteria Can Make Its Way Into Your Bathroom Through the Toilet

Your toilet is the perfect breeding ground for all sorts of unpleasant little organisms, so it will come as no surprise that your sewage system is an even better place for bacteria to thrive. This is especially true when you consider that sewers are generally warm and damp, making the conditions perfect for bacteria to rapidly multiply.

Sometimes, the bacteria that is in your sewage system can make its way up and into your toilet, causing a distinctly unpleasant smell. This can happen even if you clean your toilet bowl regularly as the bacteria can even get into the flush tank itself.

A handy DIYer can usually deal with this issue without the help of a plumber. To get rid of these unwanted visitors, pour some bleach in the flush tank and flush the toilet a couple of times. This should be enough to eradicate the bacteria and purge the foul odors.  

Broken Seal

Toilet Seals Can Break

Toilet Seals Can Break

However, this is not the only way that the bacteria in your sewage can get into your bathroom. Your toilet either has a caulk or wax ring around the bottom opening that connects it to the sewage pipes. This is meant to keep out any and all unpleasant stuff that makes its way into your commode, and as such is a pretty important part of your toilet working properly.

However, if this seal starts to break down or is missing this gives bacteria an opening, allowing it to seep through and onto your bathroom floor. Once it’s there, this nasty bacteria will start making itself at home and producing some unpleasant smells. This issue is going to need more than some bleach to solve, and it is recommended that you get in touch with a plumber.

Fixing this problem will mean uninstalling the toilet and flipping it on its back so that you can get to the area where the seal is located. Doing this on your own could cause damage or injury, so it’s best to not go it alone.      

Broken Toilet

Other Leaks Can Also Cause Odors

Other Leaks Can Also Cause Odors

Your toilet can also have some other problems that lead to unpleasant smells. For example, small cracks can develop in your toilet bowl, leading to water leaks. This could allow sewer gas smells around the toilet thanks to the low water levels in your commode’s p-trap caused by the leaks.

If this is your problem, the best course of action is to get the help of an expert. A damaged toilet is a tough problem to deal with if you aren’t a pro and you risk making the problem worse if you try and jimmy rig it.

Underused Sink

A Dry P-Trap Can Lead To a Smelly Sink

A Dry P-Trap Can Lead To a Smelly Sink

This one is a rather innocuous problem when compared to the more serious issues on this list. Put simply, if you have an unused bathroom that smells like a sewer, the sink is the likely culprit. If your bathroom sink is hardly ever used, the water inside the P-trap will evaporate. The P-trap is the U-shaped pipe under your sink that the water flows through when it drains.

Normally its special shape allows some water to stay in the pipes, acting as a barrier against sewer smells around toilets. If the water evaporates, that barrier goes with it. To fix this problem, you need to wet the P-trap, and that’s as simple as turning on your tap and running it for a minute or so.

Use baking soda as a bathroom drain smell remover by sprinkling some into the drain. This can also help dislodge grime and prevent clogging. To prevent your bathroom from smelling like sewage again, we recommend running the tap regularly so the P-trap doesn’t dry out. While you're at it, consider reimagining your bathroom fixtures with some neat tricks that add style. 

Clogged Shower Drain 

Clogged Shower Drains Result in Stagnant Water

Clogged Shower Drains Result in Stagnant Water

Your toilet isn’t the only place bad smells can come from. Smelly drains around the house can also be the source of problems, especially if your shower drain becomes clogged. This can be caused by soap, hair, or other debris and will cause water to get stuck in the drain. When this happens the stagnant water will become a vector for bacteria, causing - you guessed it - foul odors.

Spotting a clogged shower drain is pretty easy. If your shower floor becomes a big puddle when you use it and the water takes a long time to go down the drain, a leak is quite likely. This can be a pretty common problem for some shower drains, especially if you have long hair and/or take showers rather frequently.

To unclog your shower, you’ll need to get your hands dirty. First, remove the cap for your shower drain and drop the drain cover into a saucepan filled with vinegar and hot water. Your drain cover can become covered with yucky grime and this can make a blockage worse. Vinegar and hot water will soften that grime and make it easy to remove.

For the drain itself, consider using a dedicated unclogging product as these are quite powerful and effective at removing especially stubborn blockages. However, if you’d prefer a solution that doesn’t use harsh chemicals, you can also try pouring some baking soda down the drain, and then pouring a mixture of hot water and vinegar. 

The baking soda and vinegar will help to loosen the blockage. However, this technique is not recommended if you have a large blockage as it is unlikely to work and can actually worsen the blockage. However, using baking soda alone can act as a good bathroom drain smell remover.

MG

Written by
Mateos Glen Hayes

Written by Mateos Glen Hayes

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