Does your house smell like sewage in the middle of the night? Don’t panic or feel embarrassed if this is the case. Foul sewer-like odors are a common issue homeowners can face.
However, it’s crucial to deal with the issue as soon as possible. Sewer and gas smells can be harmful and dangerous if untreated. Here’s what you need to know.
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Why Is There a Sewer Smell in My House at Night?
There could be multiple reasons for a foul sewer-like odor in the middle of the night. Sewage backup, leaking pipes, clogged drains, loose-fitting connections, and dry traps are common culprits. Thankfully, there are a few easy tips and tricks you can use to resolve the issue.
How Does the Smell Get Inside My House?
The plumbing system in your house is interconnected through a large network of pipes, vents, traps, and drains. Every drain in this sewer system should contain a “p”-shaped trap and a vent. These systems trap in water, providing a protective barrier that locks out sewer gas from entering your home.
If these drains aren’t frequently used, cracked, or damaged, the water inside will evaporate. Without water, the foul sewer odor can leak into your home at night or throughout the day.
What Can I Do?
There are a few things you can do if you’re experiencing a foul sewer-like odor in the dead of night or throughout the day. Some issues can be resolved with a little elbow grease, while more severe complications might require a professional plumber. Let’s break down what you can do to resolve a sewer smell.
Locate the Odor
First, you should locate where the odor is coming from. Is the smell coming from a guest bathroom? Or maybe the scent is coming from the kitchen sink? The solution to your problem will depend on where the smell is coming from.
Fix a Dry Trap
One of the main causes of a foul sewer smell throughout your home is a dry trap. As mentioned earlier, every drain in your home should have a “p”-shaped trap and are commonly located near floor drains, laundry tubs, and underneath the sink. If these water traps become too dry, they can’t lock out sewer scents from entering the home.
If the sewer smell is coming from a dry trap underneath a sink, simply run the water for about 10 minutes to refill the trap. This should remove the sewer smell, but you’ll need to do this regularly to keep it from coming back.
If the smell is coming from a floor drain, like in the basement, pour a few buckets of water down the drain to resolve the issue. Again, you’ll have to maintain this process to keep the smell from returning.
Faulty Wax Ring on the Toilet
Another common cause of sewer scents is a bad or worn-out wax ring on the toilet. The wax ring sits between the toilet flange and the base of the toilet. It provides a watertight and airtight seal to lock out sewer gas and moisture. If it’s worn out, you’ll need to replace it.
This process is a bit more involved and will require you to move the toilet completely. However, with a bit of elbow grease and determination, you can complete the project in less than a day.
You can also use homemade solutions to clean a stinky drain. Keep in mind these solutions do not work well at removing clogs or other complications. Homemade remedies are a way to treat the symptoms, not the cause. Here’s a simple solution you can try:
- Mix ½ cup baking soda and ¼ cup of table salt together.
- Pour the dry mixture into the smelly drain.
- Pour 1 cup of heated white vinegar down the drain; you’ll notice a bit of foam and bubbles.
- Let the mixture work for 15 minutes; any longer isn’t necessary.
- Run or pour hot tap water down the drain for 15-30 seconds.
Be sure to never pour bleach down your drain or mix it with vinegar. Pouring bleach down your drain can damage your pipes and sewer system. Mixing bleach and vinegar can create toxic chemicals that are incredibly dangerous.
When to Call a Plumber
If none of the solutions above worked, it might be time to call a professional plumber. You might have more severe complications that require professional repair.
Leaky or Damaged Pipes
Leaky, damaged, or cracked pipes are harder to repair and require a professional. You might have a serious sewer and septic line leak that’s causing the awful smell. If you notice a gurgling toilet, slow drains, and foul odors, you’ll need to hire a professional.
Loose connections can be hard to reach and are typically located inside the walls or the ceiling. These loose connections can cause harmful sewer gasses to leak into your home. You’ll need to hire a professional plumber to resolve these issues.
Serious clogs can also require a professional plumber. They may need to repair the pipes or use special equipment to remove the obstruction. If you think you have a severely clogged drain, be sure to hire a professional.
What Causes My House to Smell Like Sewage at Night?
Some common causes of foul sewer smells are dry traps, faulty wax rings, clogged drains, and leaky pipes. You can fix a dry trap and faulty wax ring with a bit of elbow grease. You’ll need to call a plumber if you think you have damaged pipes, loose-fitting connections, or a serious clog.