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Old 01-08-2012, 08:26 AM   #1
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


I still have this strange problem. It's a funny smell in a small pool bath. It doesn't smell like the other bathrooms that have no odor. But it doesn't necessarily smell like a sewer smell which I guess would smell like poop, but then again it does smell like poop some times..... But it doesn't smell right. It is very hard to locate the source of the smell. You walk into the bathroom you just get this "it's just not right" smell. When I stick my nose directly in the sink drain pipe (the vanity is pulled off from the wall so I have access to it), it does NOT have the same smell.

I thought it may be a water leak somewhere, but usually I would notice those types of things because it would be a mildew type smell, which I don't think this is. Plus, I have access to the other sides of the drywall adjacent to this bathroom and usually you could smell the leak and would be able to press the soft drywall.

Could it be a cracked vent? If it was a clogged vent, would that be more obvious? Would I hear gurgling and draining problems with a clogged vent? (everything drains nice and fast, no sounds).

Or could it be a sewer leak in the slab?

How can I test for a sewer leak and vent leak myself?

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Old 01-08-2012, 09:05 AM   #2
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


Sinks and bathtubs/showers have a "trap" which is a U shaped pipe under the drain. This always has water in it and that keeps the odors from the sewer from entering the room...

But you said "pool bath" which I would take to be a bathroom by a pool. Which might not be used very much. Or may have a shower which has not been used for a long time... And in that case the water from the traps may have evaporated and odors from the sewer can now enter the room!

So just run a little water in each sink, bathtub/shower, and flush toilet every so ofter to keep water in the traps. And if washing machine, run a little water in that drain as well. Here is a graphic of a trap...


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Old 01-08-2012, 09:09 AM   #3
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


Leaking wax ring under the toilet comes to mind also.
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:37 AM   #4
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


Yeah, i'm way past these basics, but thanks!

p-traps are all filled. Shower has been used a few days ago, I ran it again just to be sure.

It's a new toilet that I have reseated twice now. First time with the Kohler ring that came with it, next time (yesterday) with an Oatey 10-year ring from Home Depot.

Can I go up on the roof and plug all 4 vents and then open the flapper in a toilet and let water in and then test to see if the level drops? What size cap do I need to get? It's a PVC vent. I think 2 1/2 or 3 inch, didn't measure when I was in the attic, but i'm sure you guys know what the standard is. Not sure if it could be the vent, because in my attic, I had drilled a hole next to it in the same cavity and I sniffed and sniffed and could not smell the same smell as in the bathroom. So I would think if the vent was leaking in the wall, I would smell it out through that hole.

It really seems like it is coming up from the slab in the bathroom, unfortunately, which is why I want to test for leaks before calling in a plumber. If someone could tell me how to do a static test on my own, that would be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by noone; 01-08-2012 at 09:43 AM.
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:48 AM   #5
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


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It really seems like it is coming up from the slab in the bathroom...
It's camera time.

hth
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Old 01-08-2012, 12:40 PM   #6
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


Are you saying we are moving out of DIY territory here? I thought I could do a smoke bomb testing or static testing myself. I lost the article. Would appreciate any input you have. Thanks!
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Old 01-08-2012, 12:45 PM   #7
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Are you saying we are moving out of DIY territory here? I thought I could do a smoke bomb testing or static testing myself. I lost the article. Would appreciate any input you have. Thanks!
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Old 01-08-2012, 02:01 PM   #8
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Are you saying we are moving out of DIY territory here? I thought I could do a smoke bomb testing...
My comment is about the problem being below concrete.

The assumption (on my part) is that there is a broken pipe or fitting that needs to be located and rather exactly... regardless of what a smoke test might also show.
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Old 01-08-2012, 02:25 PM   #9
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


If the ground work and stacks are pvc i personally wouldnt suggest dropping a smoke grenade in there,just saying!
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Old 01-08-2012, 02:46 PM   #10
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If the ground work and stacks are pvc i personally wouldnt suggest dropping a smoke grenade in there,just saying!
Where can I buy a smoke bomb? How do I do this?
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Old 01-08-2012, 04:40 PM   #11
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If the ground work and stacks are pvc i personally wouldnt suggest dropping a smoke grenade in there,just saying!
Just reread your post. I don't think professional plumbers drop smoke bombs in your sewer lines. I think they use some kind of smoke generator, basically a lit smoke bomb in a can and then push the smoke through the system with a blower of some sort. Or they use tiny cameras to run through the lines.
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Old 01-08-2012, 07:38 PM   #12
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


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Just reread your post. I don't think professional plumbers drop smoke bombs in your sewer lines. I think they use some kind of smoke generator, basically a lit smoke bomb in a can and then push the smoke through the system with a blower of some sort. Or they use tiny cameras to run through the lines.
Google smoke testing. Basically, you put a special smoke bomb in a shop vac and force the smoke into the pipe. You can buy the kit or DIY your own.
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Old 01-08-2012, 07:56 PM   #13
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


Quote:
Originally Posted by noone View Post
Just reread your post. I don't think professional plumbers drop smoke bombs in your sewer lines. I think they use some kind of smoke generator, basically a lit smoke bomb in a can and then push the smoke through the system with a blower of some sort. Or they use tiny cameras to run through the lines.
Last time I looked I had more than 1 piece of paper that said licensed master plumber,but thanks for clearing that up for me!
But youll notice I said I wouldnt reccomend doing this right?
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:25 PM   #14
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


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Last time I looked I had more than 1 piece of paper that said licensed master plumber,but thanks for clearing that up for me!
But youll notice I said I wouldnt reccomend doing this right?
Thanks. Apologies if I offended you, that wasn't the intent.

Can any of you licensed plumbers tell me what type of service I should expect to find the source of the smell? I like the idea of them using a camera to find it, since that is obviously equipment I don't own and thus a procedure I can't do myself.

Thanks again.
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:30 PM   #15
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


If it started after your remodel id start with the fixtures that were changed/modified during the remodel.
Any glued fittings that might have been missed while plumbing,did you strip the walls/floors out during the remodel?
Could you be smelling glue or something that was used in the remodel?

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