If you had a really disgusting sewagey smell in one area only of your house ...

(70 Posts)
FarleyD Wed 10-Apr-13 22:56:21

who would you call to investigate! The smell is in our en suite. It comes and goes. When it comes it usually lingers for a few days. This time however it has been here for at least a week and smells even more disgusting than usual. There are no signs of anything being blocked or leaking. The smell is nowhere else in the house.

Is this a job for a plumber? Or, if not, who could I contact. Grateful for any advice, can't go on holding my nose for much longer. TIA. smile

jelliebelly Wed 10-Apr-13 22:57:46

Sorry cant help but I have EXACTLY this problem - how weird..

ELR Wed 10-Apr-13 22:58:59

Me too.....

ghosteditor Wed 10-Apr-13 22:59:00

Comes up the drains - get your outside drainage checked!

FarleyD Wed 10-Apr-13 22:59:14

How's your nose holding up jellie?! Is it in your en suite too?

trixymalixy Wed 10-Apr-13 23:00:35

Sounds like a blocked drain.

thebestpossibletaste Wed 10-Apr-13 23:01:48

Have this problem too, in the kitchen though, it seems to be only when the dishwasher is running. Don't know what to check or who to call out.

DiscoDonkey Wed 10-Apr-13 23:02:07

Must be an ensuing thing we have it too. Dh pretends not to notice but that's because he doesn't want to pay to have someone come out

FarleyD Wed 10-Apr-13 23:02:08

Ghost - by someone like Dynarod or a normal plumber?

DiscoDonkey Wed 10-Apr-13 23:02:28

Ensuite thing

monsterchild Wed 10-Apr-13 23:02:42

could be a blocked drain, or, what it was for us, is the first sign that the wax seal on the toilet is going. The sewage smell comes and goes then just stays, and then, the seal breaks. Ours did anyway, call a plumber, or if you're handy, replace it yourselves.

trixymalixy Wed 10-Apr-13 23:03:04

Dynarod cost a fortune. Look up drain clearing on yell.com and find someone cheaper.

FarleyD Wed 10-Apr-13 23:03:25

But would there be any signs if it was a blocked drain? Smell has been coming and going for about two/three years.

Sort of glad to know we are not alone!

TeamEdward Wed 10-Apr-13 23:03:26

I'd blame DH. It's normally him

jelliebelly Wed 10-Apr-13 23:04:51

Only in our ensuite and seems to come from the shower drain. Comes and goes before I ever get round to getting someone iin to investigate. This time it's been a few days though - was thinking of calling dynorod.

fusspot66 Wed 10-Apr-13 23:04:58

And would your en suite by any chance have a macerater ? We have a stinky en suite but DH can't smell it till it's dreadful.He searched online for advice and now we unplug macerater by removing fuse and fill toilet bowl with bleach till it flows into the macerater unit and leave it all day. Helps for a while. Then i smell it again & he can't and the niff builds up till bleachy time again (monthly). Of course correctly fitted they should be odourless. I too wonder who could fix it?

FarleyD Wed 10-Apr-13 23:06:03

Yes TeamEdward, I did favour that explanation for a while. Then the smell started appearing (does a smell appear?) when dh unfortunately had a cast iron alibi. So I switched suspects and blamed ds2, but even he has now been exonerated! smile

Thanks for replies by the way.

monsterchild Wed 10-Apr-13 23:06:49

I'm in the US, so I don't know if UK toilets have a wax seal? I'd think so, but I could be totally wrong!'
If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's the connection between the toilet and the drainpipe

MinnesotaNice Wed 10-Apr-13 23:07:04

We had this problem in the kitchen. Picked up some drain unblocker from the supermarket and that seemed to fix the issue.

Tigerbomb Wed 10-Apr-13 23:07:47

If it's a blocked drain, phone your water company first. The law changed a couple of years ago and now most drains belong to the water companies.
Seven TRent came out to mine after our toilet blocked up and said that it was the drains (which were in our garden). they unblocked them free of charge

jelliebelly Wed 10-Apr-13 23:08:48

I've spent a small fortune on drain unblocker but nothing seems to shift it - probably would've been cheaper to call someone in the first place!

FarleyD Wed 10-Apr-13 23:09:25

No macerator*fuss*. I'll have to go seal inspecting monster, haven't noticed anything. If any of you fellow sufferers discover the source of the problem and how to cure, will you report back? I will also report any success or otherwise!

FarleyD Wed 10-Apr-13 23:10:30

Yes I've tried drain unblocker too.

CarpeVinum Wed 10-Apr-13 23:12:22

It's drains. I don't know if you can get them over there, but there are little teabag things full of....stuff...that you can flush down and they do something magical with bacteria balance (or something like that) and make the whiff go away.

I'd try your hardware store and see if they can suggest something like that.

FarleyD Wed 10-Apr-13 23:15:51

I like the sound of magic teabags, can you drink them too?!

CointreauVersial Wed 10-Apr-13 23:19:21

We get this too, but only in the summer, and only in/around the DCs' bathroom.

Marking my place in case someone has any bright ideas.

HotelFromage Wed 10-Apr-13 23:21:48

Nothing helpful to add, except that at work years ago I suddenly smelt a sewagey smell, whilst sat at my desk, in a basement office. I stood up and there was literally raw sewage coming up through the carpet, from directly under my office chair. Turned out my office chair was located over a manhole cover. Needless to say, I ran out of my office. grin

The main drain in the area had been blocked up by grease from a supermarket across the road, and it had all backed up towards our building.

Took weeks for it to get removed, disinfected, steam cleaned, etc. Never felt quite the same in there after that...

givemeaclue Wed 10-Apr-13 23:28:20

Had this. Had plumber out, floorboards up etc. Turned out dcs had left beaker of milk behind sofa creating sour stink. Didn't find that out till expensive plumbers drew a blank...

We had this in our en suite when we moved to our new flat. Came and went despite lots of cleaning and throwing drain cleaner and bleach and anything else possible at the issue. Gradually (after a few months) started in the kitchen. Eventually blocked shower and sink in en suite (wouldn't drain). Called a plumber, took him 2 days to unblock,including cameras down the internal plumping and resulting in him drilling into the drainage pipe under our floorboards to clear the blockage. Essentially a blockage that had built up over time until was too blocked to let water through. He said if you can smell in in your property generally it is an issue before the drains hit the mains (as the join to the mains tends to have a non return valve blocking any smells). Our problem was past resolution without a plumber and some serious intervention but as prevention he recommends running scalding water in the showers and sinks for 5 mins each week and a regular application of drain cleaner. I would suggest calling someone sooner rather than later to avoid the hefty bill we faced for leaving it so late

ShootingStarsss Wed 10-Apr-13 23:36:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FarleyD Wed 10-Apr-13 23:41:17

givemeaclue - oh dear, expensive drink of milk. Hotel, yuck that's truly revolting. Think I'd have to move. NotWithout - thanks, that's interesting.

Seems consensus is it's a blocked drain so I'll get onto someone tomorrow and let you all know (cos, ya know, I'm sure you'll be on edge of your seats waiting). Thanks again for help.

FarleyD Wed 10-Apr-13 23:43:06

I can't really tell Shooting, other than that it's the en suite, and only the en suite. I demand you go and wake dp up, sure he'll be delighted to help random woman on internet out! (Am joking, honest). Have tried drain cleaner many times to no avail.

idlevice Wed 10-Apr-13 23:44:16

Is it from the toilet? We had this in our en-suite but coming from the shower dran which was connected directly to the soil pipe. We spent a small fortune on drain unblockers & finally the plumber came. It took 2 minutes for him to tell me that I was using the plug wrong! It has a well in it which has to be full of water to absorb the odours & I'd been emptying it out to clean it. I was beyond embarassed.

ShootingStarsss Wed 10-Apr-13 23:48:29

Farley he probably would answer me half asleep!! grin
Whee are you south, north? Sounds like the drains probably need jetting and clearing. ( I am no expert, we had bad smell in kitchen coming from sink, this is what do done to ours at the time)

We had a smell in the family bathroom, it came and went and drove me mad. Dh pulled off the loo replaced the wax seal thing, no change, then he pulled the pop up plug on the bath/shower and omg it looked like a rat he pulled out of there, so much hair, I gagged it smelt so bad. That was out nasty odor, I was convinced it was the toilet.

*He pulled off the pop up plug.

FarleyD Wed 10-Apr-13 23:54:53

Shooting - am in SE. Squinkies - sorry but smile at "looked like a rat". Cleaning the plughole out is my all time least favourite job, would rather clean minging toilet than do that, I gag every time.

I have this problem too! Comes and goes intermittently but can't trace source of it. Tried various drain unblockers. At the moment we are 'smell free' but I am aware that could change any time! confused

whodunnit Thu 11-Apr-13 00:00:48

Sounds to me like the smells form the sewer main are venitng into your bathroom.

You should have a soil vent pipe connected to the sewers on your house that vents the main drain to fresh air and not into your bathroom. The soil vent pipe is a 4 inch diameter pipe that should run up from the ground to your eaves of the roof . It will probably have a grill on the top - not important but may help you to spot it.

The 4 inch pipe will probably be outside your main bathroom and you should see your loo pipe (same diameter) and maybe a bath/ shower/ sink smaller pipe going horizontally into it.

Do you have such a soil vent pipe? If you don't have a pipe, then the main sewer could be venting into your ensuite. Or if you do have a soil vent pipe - your ensuite may be too far away from it.

You should not be having a smell from your loo as it has a water trap to stop the smells coming out of it. Likewise your sinks and showers shoudl have a water trap to stop the smells venting up. This will look like a u bend behind the sink.

Go and look at these and tell me what you see.......get your torch...

ShootingStarsss Thu 11-Apr-13 00:01:16

Have PM you Farley smile
It's hard trying to find out where the smell is coming from & then working out if it is a drain problem, drain problems don't fix themselves and over time do get worse & they are very pricey work.

Although I read someone reply about the responsibility now changing and sometimes this falls on the water company because the law changed this is right advice, any decent drainage company you call will let you know who is responsible.

whodunnit Thu 11-Apr-13 00:02:00

should say that the soil vent pipe will be on your outside wall, not inside the house.

FarleyD Thu 11-Apr-13 00:08:19

That's really useful info whodunnit, thank you. Can't go and look now, it's dark and am in bed with the offending smell swirling all around me! But will get dh investigating in the morning and report back.

fortyplus Thu 11-Apr-13 00:11:00

I had this and it turned out my cat had brought a dead rat in - smelt really cabbagey after a few days - took me ages to find it!

FarleyD Thu 11-Apr-13 00:12:12

Have replied Shooting smile

FarleyD Thu 11-Apr-13 00:13:58

Where was it Forty? We did once have similarly disgusting smell downstairs, but managed to trace that back to a decomposing mouse. Who'd have thought such a small thing could create such a foul stink.

TheChaoGoesMu Thu 11-Apr-13 00:20:06

Our ensuite was like that upstairs. Downstairs toilet fine. Turns out the pipe was blocked, and reached a point where water wouldnt go through. The pipe holds a heck of a lot before you notice a problem.

whodunnit Thu 11-Apr-13 00:20:26

just a couple of more ideas for you to try tomorrow....

Find the nearest drain cover to your enuite, and any other in your garden. Lift the lids if you can, then get someone to flush the loo in your ensuite. You are trying to work out the connnections in your garden and see which way the drains run, also if they react quickly to you flushing or is the flow a bit weak and sluggish. Do the same for your other toilets and sinks in turn. You need to get a lot of water down the pipes quickly and see where it is going and if it is travelling straight through the pipes or whether it it is trickling through a puddle of standing water caused by a blockage. This is all good information for you to find out what is going on.

Bettter that you do it for free than pay a plumber to find out for you. I think so anyway. Then wash your hands and let us know what you find.

Sleep well...

FarleyD Thu 11-Apr-13 00:23:10

You are a mine of information*whodunnit*, and aptly named for a stinky smell thread I think! Thanks again.

whodunnit Thu 11-Apr-13 00:25:22

It might be shit to you but it is my bread and butter! boom boom......

olgaga Thu 11-Apr-13 00:31:25

Well I have a very cheap potential solution.

A bag of soda crystals and a kettle full of boiling water will usually sort out most drains if it's just whiffy and not yet a full-blown (bleurgh) back-up.

Cheap and cheerful.

While you're at it have a good look at the soda crystals packet and see where you could be using it elsewhere in the house and saving yourself a whole heap of ££ on expensive cleaning stuff you don't actually need.

Promotedbymailinglist Thu 11-Apr-13 00:32:05

Probably a small gap in a drainage pipe junction. Drains should hold smells in under the water trap, but if there is a gap somewhere, it is a direct, if long, connection to open sewer and when water goes down it makes air come up..
Drains (eg from sinks) are not pressured so its quite easy for there to be a gap without a leak.


CarpeVinum Thu 11-Apr-13 00:32:43

can you drink them too?!

I don't fancy testing them to see grin

MildlyMiserable Thu 11-Apr-13 00:43:56

Try shifting gunk with by emptying a tub of bicarbonate of soda and a bottle of cheap vinegar down the offending plug, leave overnight. It will degunk the pipe work without any damage and neutralise any whiffs.
If it doesn't work has only cost about a pound so not much of a loss.
If done monthly keeps pipe work clear - well does here.

cumfy Thu 11-Apr-13 00:57:14

House or flat ?

Flat could be coming from neighbours.

Dead mouse ?

I'm sure anyone you phone will be happy to rip your floorboards/ replumb your house for £600+ grin.

jalopy Thu 11-Apr-13 08:19:45

Before calling expensive plumbers, etc. I would try using large amounts of caustic soda down the toilet and all plug holes. Do this last thing at night so as to give it maximum time to sit in the pipes.

If this isn't effective, I think you would have to call in drain specialists.

Notyetthere Thu 11-Apr-13 08:48:20

when we pour water from boiling broccoli or peas down the kitchen sink the same sewage smell starts in the bathroom. The broccoli is the worst though. It can linger for a few hours or sometimes for days. FIL reckons these new build flats have some form of water recycling system that churns the water causing the pong.

CuddyMum Thu 11-Apr-13 08:48:31

Same here - in the ensuite. It sometimes occurs when we our bathing patterns alter - like when I'm off on holiday (I work at school) and don't bathe until later (husband showers first thing) or when he's away so therefore hasn't showered at home. We think it's down to stagnant water sitting in the pipes beneath the shower and usually plop a load of bleach down the shower hole and sink plughole. Leave it for an hour or so and run the water. I've also put a load of shower gel down as an alternative and it seems to do the trick. It's not very often though, maybe once every couple of months. It does really stink though.

IDontDoIroning Thu 11-Apr-13 08:57:09

We get similar if the shower hasn't been used for a bit. Dh says the water that sits in the u bend of the shower waste pipe evaporates and lets the smell up from the pipes.
Running a bit of hot water in the shower does the trick.

HaplessHousewife Thu 11-Apr-13 09:02:34

We had this and no matter how many chemicals etc I chucked down, it would keep coming back.

When we had the bathroom refitted, it turned out the waste pipe from the sink wasn't at the right angle so the water wasn't running out properly and accumulating in the pipe. The only way we found out was by ripping the floor up so not the cheapest solution!

PigletJohn Thu 11-Apr-13 12:16:34

I think whodunnit is on the right lines but, if you smell it in your ensuite, I would start by looking at the soil pipe. When the house was built it probably had a soil pipe inside or outside the house, which rose up above the eaves or poked through the roof and was open at the top so air could enter or leave to prevent the drains being under pressure.

Very often when a new bathroom or WC is added, it is "too much trouble" to put in a new vent like that, and an [http://www.screwfix.com/p/floplast-push-fit-air-admittance-valve-grey-af110/78150 air admittance valve]] is fitted to the top of the pipe inside the house. It is a sort of round plastic cap that is supposed to let air into the pipe but prevent gas escaping. It is often boxed in and hidden away to cause maximum inconvenience.

They go wrong.

They are quite easy to pull off and clean or replace (you will need a little silicone grease from a plumbers merchant for the sealing ring).

Any plumbers merchant or DIY shed will stock them, they are a standard size, usualy grey plastic. Guess why replacements are so widely stocked?

Otherwise, start asking friends and neighbours for a recommended plumber.

PigletJohn Thu 11-Apr-13 12:17:59
FarleyD Thu 11-Apr-13 18:55:35

Evening all, thanks so much for advice, really appreciate you taking the time to answer. Have had an interesting day, clad for the most part in marigolds and/or wellies (just call me Margot), and I know now more about our plumbing than I ever wanted to (but not as much as I should I fear).

After extensive investigations and drain cover heaving and much loo flushing and tap running and shouting instructions to ever so un helpful dc, I decided drains were all ok as water seemed to be running fine.

Shower is used many times daily, and in the past, have tried all the drain cleaner/unblocker/vinegar/soda crystal type stuff lots of times, but thanks for the suggestions.

Managed to discover soil pipe (by spotting aforementioned by whodunnit grill cap) - it is quite a way from ensuite. Think all water traps are present. Stupid question time now blush:

Promotedbymailinglist - how do I find out if there is gap in a drainage pipe junction?

PigletJohn - where should I look for the top of the pipe fitted inside the house? Sorry to be obtuse, but should i be looking in the en suite itself or at the top of the house or elsewhere?

Thanks again all, off for a good hot scrub down now!

CointreauVersial Thu 11-Apr-13 19:28:08

The problem mentioned by Idon'tdoironing was exactly the cause of a smell at my mother's house - the shower in the guest bedroom hadn't been used for a while, so the U-bend dried up and whiffs from the drain were able to come though. It's a good idea to run taps/showers for a few seconds in underused bathrooms (not that WE have any of those!).

Reading this thread I'm suspecting that Promotedbymailinglist has identified the most likely cause for my particular stinky problem - the shower and basin are quite a long way from the outside wall, and the smells often erupt when the bath has just been drained, and seem to come from the plugholes/bath area, and not the loo. The chap who owned the house before us was a bit of a cowboy builder, so it wouldn't surprise me if there's some shoddy pipework under the floor. The soil pipe when we moved in ended at head height, so we extended it up to the eaves straight away.

whodunnit Thu 11-Apr-13 20:36:18

Well done OP - you have learnt a lot today. So let's hope it is some further use....

A couple more questions about the soil pipe and the main drains, and then you can safely eliminate it and blckages int eh outside drainage. Is the ensuite draining into the sewers between the soil pipe and the main drain, or is it beyond- upstream of the soil pipe? I am just thinking as a last thought, that if your ensuite is close to the main drain, and your soil pipe is far away, then maybe the smell from the main sewers (other people's stinkiness...) is finding its way up you ensuite pipework as the quickest route to the open air, and not getting as far as your soil pipe where it is supposed to go to. But if that is happening, then you still have some problem with your own drainage as the smells should still not be able to get through into your room.

One other problem I've seen before, which could account for the randomness of the smells is if there is a sewage pumpstation pumping into the main sewer - that can really push the smells into any nooks or crannies or splits in the pipework. But you can't really find that out without talking to the local water board or sewage authority.

Good luck.

PigletJohn Thu 11-Apr-13 22:56:49

if you have an air admittance valve, follow the soil pipe from the WC, it will probably run horizontally until it joins a vertical one.

The vertical is probably in a corner, and probably boxed in. Follow its route and see if it continues upwards until it goes through the roof, or if it stops. If it stops, that's where the smell may be coming from.

herethereandeverywhere Thu 11-Apr-13 23:38:55

We had an issue with a drain smell in a downstairs room (without plumbing) and feared all sorts from rats to sewer collapse. We paid some A-MA-ZING experts to put a camera down the drain Cost £170 IIRC. They found the source of the problem and fixed it for a further £15.

They were brilliant - total experts. They even gave an idea of what the problem might be over email. draindomain.com I posted a question from their website and dealt with a chap called Dave Brown. They were about a billion times more knowledgeable than the blokes that turned up from dynorod and charged me over £250 to scoop some rubble out of the drain and dump it in the garden as removal of the waste isn't part of their job!!!!!!

echt Fri 12-Apr-13 00:07:20

Ooh..interested. We have an intermittent vile pong when flushing the ensuite lav, but the smell appears in the downstairs living room. Eeuugh. The soil stack is inside the house, accessed by the crawl space (we live in Australia and the house is on stumps). A visiting plumber said it was when the toilet bowl water level was low, but I've noticed no correlation.

I'll try drain clean first.

eastereggnog Fri 12-Apr-13 00:16:05

OMG! Idlevice I think you, have just solved the 4 year mystery that was the awful smell that arrived after I cleaned out the shower! I always emptied that little well thing. I must try an experiment! If this is the answer, my time on MN will have been truly worthwhile!!

fortyplus Sat 13-Apr-13 00:38:28

FarleyD turned out tobe under our bed! shock grin
Took me about 3 nights of thinking dh had suddenly started doing stinky farts in his sleep to realise that he wasn't to blame!

whodunnit Wed 17-Apr-13 23:07:50

OP OP tell us, do - have you cracked it yet? What was it?

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