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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

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 [ 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. 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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