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Love_my_doggie's avatar

My bathroom STINKS! Do you have any suggestions?

Asked by Love_my_doggie (9831points) July 2nd, 2016

Every time I walk past my bathroom, I get hit by an overwhelming, unpleasant stench. The bathroom isn’t dirty. I cleaned it very thoroughly yesterday and even steam-mopped the tile floor; I saturated the bathtub with hydrogen peroxide, my preferred method for getting the 1941 fixture clean and stain-free; I’ve even emptied the wastebasket and scrubbed it with a disinfecting wipe.

I think the problem be sewer gas, although I’m not 100% certain. Have you had this happen in your own home? If yes, what did you do to get rid of the odor? Do home remedies work, or do I need a plumber’s help?

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13 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Sewer gas is likely. Have your traps and vent stack checked. If there is a sink you have not used run water in it to fill the trap. You likely have a trap not holding water.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Pour a couple cups of coffee down the sink and the tub drains ,it’s a great cheap way to get rid of the smell.

kritiper's avatar

You could try replacing the wax seal between the toilet and sewer pipe. Clean the floor thoroughly while the toilet is up and out of the way. Pour some bleach in the tub and sink drains. Clean the toilet bowl and rim very well with a pumice stone.

johnpowell's avatar

We went through something similar last week. (Warning :: The fix was 600 bucks)

The pipe leading out to the main sewer line was 80% clogged about 15 meters from the house. This let to a faulty wax toilet seal (hat-tip to kripter) being exposed since it couldn’t drain fast enough. The crawlspace under the house got icky.

I would probably call a plumber soon. If it is leaking and rotting the floorboards a cheap fix becomes having the floor of your bathroom being replaced.

Stinley's avatar

If it has started recently then you are looking for a leakage. So you need to get that seen to, asap.

We had a similar stink when we moved house but we’d also noticed it when we looked at the house (just thought someone had recently used the loo!)

It turned out there was a thick pipe that had not been used and was uncapped so every time someone in the street flushed, we got a stink. I don’t know how long the people before us had been living with the stink but the night we moved in my husband put a plastic bag over the top of the pipe with an elastic band round it until he went to the DIY shop to buy a simple cap for a couple of pounds. No smell after that

cazzie's avatar

I sounds like @johnpowell is on to something.

I have a smell in my bathroom but it is coming from the underside of my bathtub that I cant get to for cleaning because it is tiled up except for a small access panel. Whoever owned the house before me smoked cigars in the bath tub and did no maintenance. He was a spoiled young rich boy I was glad to offer less than asking price because I knew a bit about the bind he was in. As a retort, he didn’t clean the house before I took possession. I’ve tried to get the area under the tub clean, but it is nearly impossible. When the bathroom is due for a renovation, I’ll be sure not to make the same mistake. I’ve always wanted one of those clawfoot baths anyway.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

One more thing since it’s a 1940’s era house drain plumbing is likely iron and old iron pipes that age corrode out from the inside. Sewer lines were made with a kind of wax paper then too. Could be a leak. On top of that if it is an older house someone may have done some shoddy diy work like not even installing vent traps.

CWOTUS's avatar

The presence of sewer gas inside a residence is serious, but the cost to repair depends on the cause, some of which can be more severe than others. It’s a major health risk – even a potential explosive fire hazard, if bad enough (and a potential though unlikely asphyxiation problem, as well, if it’s that bad) – so it needs to be remedied soonest.

Causes can range from the ridiculously silly and easy to fix, to major expense items.

Easy: Birds, squirrels or other animals nesting on top of (or inside) the vent pipes that on most dwellings penetrate the roof line as uncapped pipes. The fix is to plumb the vent to be sure that it is clear (and by “plumb” I mean simply lowering a round weight on a string the known distance from the top of the pipe to the drain line), and then covering the vent pipe with heavy screening, secured so that it won’t blow off. That ensures the vents work. If the vent is clogged with anything, then a plumber’s snake will clear most common animal-generated blockages. (Every fixture is vented, but not always with individual vent lines. Individual vent lines, when they exist, are generally “ganged” into a main vent for the plumbing at that point in the dwelling, and the gang vent pipe is what you see when you look at the roof. Every vent has to work, but it’s the roof vent that is most attractive to nesting animals.)

Dried-out water traps are another easy-to-fix problem – assuming that all of the piping is intact and the drain traps don’t leak. (Corrosive cleaners improperly used can accumulate in metal traps and corrode them, which allows them to drain unexpectedly and improperly.) If the space under the sink is ALWAYS dry, and if the sink is used normally, then that may not be an issue.

More expensive fixes could be an improperly plumbed system, with insufficient venting to begin with, clogs and partial clogs in drains, as @johnpowell notes, and broken joints at any point in the drain or vent system. (The reason the vent lines exit the dwelling in the first place is that they DO vent sewer gases; that’s their function. If the vent line is cracked, corroded or open inside the home – and the vent line, being normally dry anyway, may not raise any red flags to someone who sees “no water leak, so it must be okay” – then that’s a source of problems.)

Other problems could be a faulty or worn-out wax seal between the toilet and the floor drain. I noticed this once in an old set-up mobile home that I lived in. The floor around the toilet was “soft”, which felt not-right, obviously, but it was the only noticeable problem at first. Then I noticed that the toilet could “rock” ever so slightly. So my first inclination was to tear up the “bad floor” and replace it with good flooring. That’s when I discovered that the toilet installation from years earlier had been “just a little off”, which cased one of the hold-down bolts to crack, which allowed the rocking, and that started to wear the wax seal (because the was seal is not a “wear” item; it’s supposed to be “set it and forget it”), and the wearing of the wax seal enabled a little seepage of each flush into the wooden sub-floor, which rotted the sub-floor under the linoleum, which worsened the rotting floor and which all kept worsening the problem.

So: Look for wetness where it doesn’t belong – even the least little bit can indicate a bigger problem that’s just not visible yet – and if you can get to the lower level (basement? lower floor? crawl space?) look for dampness or mold, which are indications of a current / ongoing problem, or unexplained staining, evidence of an earlier problem even if it’s now dry. If you venture into a crawl space be sure to have positive ventilation AND someone outside to pull you out without having to enter themselves in case you are overcome by CO2 or other non-breathable atmosphere. (In fact, if you open a crawl space and smell sewer gas, then it’s best to just leave that space open and call a professional.)

Dutchess_III's avatar

Try pouring a bunch of bleach down the tub and toilet drain.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Thank you, everyone, for your helpful advice. Special thanks to @CWOTUS for putting so much time and thought into such a thorough answer.

The stench was better this morning, but it’s much worse now. The odor’s spreading. I know that a hefty plumber’s bill will be at least 2X the amount during this holiday weekend, so I’m trying to wait until Tuesday. I promise to be mindful of the possible hazards of sewer gas, though.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Is there water in the sink trap? You want that trap to be full so the sewer gas can;t escape. Also you need to keep water in the toilet for the same reason. Make sure the level is above the drain pipe. Flush it periodically.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

^^^ I have just one bathroom so, yes, the sink and toilet, along with the bathtub/shower, get used daily and regularly.

cazzie's avatar

Brilliant answer @CWOTUS

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