Is your San Diego home experiencing a sewer smell that you can’t get rid of? Trying to get rid of a smell that you don’t know the source of is a major frustration for a homeowner. When mopping the floors, checking under the sink for leaks, taking out the trash, and scrubbing the toilet doesn’t change anything, you may have a bigger problem.

What’s Causing the Sewer Smell in My San Diego Home?

There are many reasons your house may be giving off unpleasant odors. Some of them you can fix yourself with the proper DIY cleaner or a store-bought cleaner and others you’ll want to hire a professional for.

Reasons for Bad Smells in Your Home:
  • Biofilm accumulation in the shower
  • Dry p-trap in your shower
  • Improperly installed vent pipe
  • Broken or loose toilet seal
  • Buildup in your sink’s overflow
  • Improperly installed p-trap
  • Drain clogs
  • Vent pipe clogs
  • Water heater has bacteria in it
  • Water has hydrogen sulfide in it
  • Sewer leaks
  • Loose pipe connections

How to Fix Sewer Smells

If you’re avoiding troubleshooting your problem out of fear of the money it’s going to cost you, be encouraged. Not every problem requires a professional that’s going to charge you an arm and a leg to fix. The first step in fixing the sewer smell in your home is identifying it. If you can tell where the smell is coming from you can get to work on figuring out a solution. You might be able to fix the problem with a few of your pantry staples and a little elbow grease.

DIY Fixes

If the sewer smell is coming from your shower drain, it could be a dirty drain or a dry p-trap. Both of these problems have easy solutions.

Biofilm Accumulation

Most people use a lot of different products in their showers. From face scrubs to thick and gunky hair masks, most of us are rinsing products down our shower drains several times a day depending on the size of our households. All of those products can accumulate in our shower drains along with hair and dirt. Is it any wonder that all of those things might start to stink, especially if they’re getting stuck on their way down? Thankfully, there is a simple solution to this. Give your drain a good cleaning by removing the drain cover with a screwdriver and pouring a 1/4 cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar. After about an hour, follow up with a gallon of hot, but not boiling water. Use a drain brush or bottle brush to clear away any remaining debris.

Dry P-Traps

A p-trap is a very important part of your home’s plumbing system. It’s the u-shaped part of the plumbing. Under sinks, this part is clearly visible but is hidden under the shower or tub. The purpose of a p-trap is to catch debris while holding enough water so that sewer gasses can’t escape and come back up through your drain. If your drains have been dry for very long, the water may evaporate and prevent the p-trap from doing its job. Try flushing water down the drain and see if that fixes the problem. If the smell persists, you may have an improperly installed p-trap.

Buildup in Your Sink’s Overflow

If the smell is coming from one of your sinks, you may have a buildup in your sink’s overflow. The solution is to give the overflow a good cleaning. Mix bleach and water in a 1-to-1 ratio and use it to clean your overflow with a bottle brush.

Bacteria in the Water Heater

If you suspect a buildup of bacteria in your water heater, crank its heat up for 24 hours. Run the hot water taps to allow the system to flush itself out.

What should you do if you’ve tried everything and the smell is still there? Call our professionals.

When to Call the Professionals

If you’ve gone over your entire home, sniffing out the source of the smell, cleaning and bleaching everything and you are still smelling that awful stench, it’s time to call in the pros. Sewer leaks are a big health concern. Not only can they cause you to feel sick to your stomach and experience headaches, but hydrogen sulfide gas from a sewer line in high amounts has been shown to cause organ damage. Sewer leaks aren’t anything to play around with.

Loose Pipe Connections

An improperly installed plumbing system can cause your pipe connections to be loose. Normal age and wear and tear can also be the culprit. Either way, loose pipe connections can cause sewer leaks and will need to be assessed by a professional.

Sewer Leaks

The biggest culprit of sewer leaks is a clogged sewer line. In a sewer line, gasses have to have somewhere to go. If the line is clogged they will find eventually find another way to escape and can cause cracks and breaks in your pipes.

Hydrogen Sulfide in your Water

Naturally occurring hydrogen sulfide (sulfur) may give off a rotten egg smell when a faucet or shower is first turned on. You can get your water tested to determine if that is where the smell is coming from.

Clogs in Vent Pipe/Improperly Installed Vent Pipes

A vent pipe or vent stack works with your plumbing system by regulating the air, rather than carrying water or gray water. The airflow allows the sewer to move freely. The top of a vent pipe is usually on the roof of your home, making it vulnerable to leaves, dust, and debris. Improperly installed or clogged vent stacks prevent the water from flowing through the system. Water sets in the pipes and becomes stagnant causing them to stink.

Broken/Loose Toilet Seal

You can tell if a toilet seal is broken or loose by checking around the base of your toilet. There may be leaks or water stains.

How to Prevent Sewer Smells

The most effective way to be proactive about your plumbing issues is to fix them before they happen. If you are like most homeowners you wait to call in professionals until something is broken. What you may not know is that we at Tarpy Plumbing, Heating & Air can come out and do a professional drain cleaning to prevent problems from coming up in the first place. Plumbing issues don’t happen overnight. Most plumbing emergencies happen because of negligence in keeping drains clean. This can be avoided by regular, drain maintenance with a simple, professional clean. In between professional cleans, you can make sure to collect any hair and debris from your shower drains by using screens to protect them. In your kitchen, avoid pouring grease down your sink and regularly clean your garbage disposal.

Leak Detection Services in San Diego

At Tarpy Plumbing, Heating & Air we are a family-owned and operated business serving the San Diego area. Our team of technicians is happy to help our customers troubleshoot any and all of their plumbing issues. As a company with BBB, EPA, and State of CA certification, we work to improve the lives of our community with quality HVAC, and plumbing.

If you’re in the San Diego area and ready to get that awful sewer smell out of your home, give us a call to schedule our services or visit our website to find out more!