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Old 01-09-2012, 09:37 AM   #31
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


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I'd bet dollars to donuts that your grout sealant has failed, water has gotten into the pan liner, and turned septic. That's what you're smelling. Septic shower water smells worse than a bucket of fresh turds.
I considered that, but I think I would smell it if I stuck my nose near the floor tile? It doesn't. The shower area is the best smelling area of the bathroom! When I step in it and close the door (with the shower off), it smells great.

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Old 01-09-2012, 12:13 PM   #32
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


cracked sewer line? do you have s traps? i mean something with a curve downward where there really is no way for air to get in so the pressure causes it to suck a lot of water out of the trap. they were in use once but are not now because they cause sewage gas to leak sometimes. look at the first picture to the right of the wikipedia article about traps. it's like an S turned sideways

also if you have a wet vent which i haven't seen but googling it just now means the vent you have may double as sewage line for something higher up. or what if your vent is clogged like from a squirrel or something?
if you go up to a vent and someone else flushes the toilet you may hear it at the top of the vent if you have your ear by it. at least i do with mine. i was working on the roof and someone flushed the toilet and i heard wooosh.. subdued but i heard it.
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Old 01-09-2012, 02:19 PM   #33
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


So the Roto Rooter guy came by and said he doesn't think I have an issue and to blow out the area with a box fan to the outside. He said that sewer gasses from the toilet ring change have lingered and that they can continue to linger for a long time and just need to be blown out.

Sounds like a bunch of hot (and stinky) air to me.
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Old 01-09-2012, 02:22 PM   #34
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


Can I take a hose and let it run in the vent to see if it clogs up? Will that hurt anything?
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Old 01-09-2012, 03:50 PM   #35
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


Take it up on the roof and do it
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Old 01-09-2012, 06:38 PM   #36
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So, this may sound way off base but the idea occurred to me today when talking about one of our jobs with a bad small-- Have you thought about something crawling into your wall and dying? Just a thought... you seem at wits end and I thought I'd throw it out there
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Old 01-09-2012, 07:44 PM   #37
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was called out on fri for a bad smell by l.t water heater, furnace....searched all over could not find a thing ..it did smell bad....got my camera from the truck....found dead chipmunk in wall..... man did he stink....
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Old 01-09-2012, 09:33 PM   #38
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was called out on fri for a bad smell by l.t water heater, furnace....searched all over could not find a thing ..it did smell bad....got my camera from the truck....found dead chipmunk in wall..... man did he stink....
I was changing out an 80 gal WH. in a small mech rm. Something stunk! figured it was a failed trap primer and dry trap. Pulled the heater out and found a dead bird in the corner of the room. Must have come down the flue
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Old 01-09-2012, 10:06 PM   #39
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


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So the Roto Rooter guy came by and said he doesn't think I have an issue and to blow out the area with a box fan to the outside. He said that sewer gasses from the toilet ring change have lingered and that they can continue to linger for a long time and just need to be blown out.

Sounds like a bunch of hot (and stinky) air to me.

You called Roto Rooter?
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:15 AM   #40
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Update -

I cleaned the entire bathroom, top to bottom and made it spotless. I even wiped clean the outside of the new toilet with Lysol wipes.

The odor seemed to go away, but by morning it was back. I can only call it a very light sewer smell, combined with the smell of new paint, toilet, and vanity and wall tile smell. It's a strange smell because you notice it when you first go in the bathroom, but then after being in it a few seconds you don't notice it. So you only notice it when you first enter from normal atmosphere to polluted atmosphere.

My wife said that she smelled the same thing at first when my parents remodeled a half bath, a smell that eventually went away. (she wants to just leave it alone and see if it will go away)

Could it be the toilet that is smelling? Could the toilet be venting up sewer gas at a very slow rate? It's really hard to pinpoint, but it does seem to be coming from the toilet area. The wax ring is solid (this is the second new ring), and it doesn't leak.

I have a 1 1/2 inch hole about 4 inches away (used for running cables for the master bedroom tv) from the header where the vent pipe exits the header in the attic. When I stick my nose in the hole and take a big whiff, I don't smell anything at all indicative of a vent leak. Since the wall in this particular bathroom is also shared by my master bedroom, and there is no smell at all in the master, I am tending to lean toward it not being a vent leak. If the vent pipe was leaking, I would think that I would smell it in that hole that is in the header, or the whole attic would stink, which it doesn't.

So this leaves the toilet. My far fetched theory at this point is that the toilet itself mixing with the water in the bowl is creating a strange smell or the toilet itself is venting gas slowly.

Tonight I am going to uninstall the toilet and take it to another room and then wrap the toilet drain with saran wrap and see if it stinks again tomorrow morning. Will wrapping it in saran wrap real well keep the stink in? Any other ideas? I am sure I could go buy a plumbing balloon from somewhere (need to find a plumbing supply house), but i'm thinking saran wrap should work well as I'm hoping the stink won't come through the plastic.

Is this totally insane? Thoughts?

Last edited by noone; 01-10-2012 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:39 PM   #41
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


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Update -

I cleaned the entire bathroom, top to bottom and made it spotless. I even wiped clean the outside of the new toilet with Lysol wipes.

The odor seemed to go away, but by morning it was back. I can only call it a very light sewer smell, combined with the smell of new paint, toilet, and vanity and wall tile smell. It's a strange smell because you notice it when you first go in the bathroom, but then after being in it a few seconds you don't notice it. So you only notice it when you first enter from normal atmosphere to polluted atmosphere.

My wife said that she smelled the same thing at first when my parents remodeled a half bath, a smell that eventually went away. (she wants to just leave it alone and see if it will go away)

Could it be the toilet that is smelling? Could the toilet be venting up sewer gas at a very slow rate? It's really hard to pinpoint, but it does seem to be coming from the toilet area. The wax ring is solid (this is the second new ring), and it doesn't leak.

I have a 1 1/2 inch hole about 4 inches away (used for running cables for the master bedroom tv) from the header where the vent pipe exits the header in the attic. When I stick my nose in the hole and take a big whiff, I don't smell anything at all indicative of a vent leak. Since the wall in this particular bathroom is also shared by my master bedroom, and there is no smell at all in the master, I am tending to lean toward it not being a vent leak. If the vent pipe was leaking, I would think that I would smell it in that hole that is in the header, or the whole attic would stink, which it doesn't.

So this leaves the toilet. My far fetched theory at this point is that the toilet itself mixing with the water in the bowl is creating a strange smell or the toilet itself is venting gas slowly.

Tonight I am going to uninstall the toilet and take it to another room and then wrap the toilet drain with saran wrap and see if it stinks again tomorrow morning. Will wrapping it in saran wrap real well keep the stink in? Any other ideas? I am sure I could go buy a plumbing balloon from somewhere (need to find a plumbing supply house), but i'm thinking saran wrap should work well as I'm hoping the stink won't come through the plastic.

Is this totally insane? Thoughts?
The sewer gas shouldn't build up that much pressure. We stuff towels down there when doing remodels. If you really are worried about sealing it up all the way, the best way is an internal test plug.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:37 PM   #42
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Can I test my sewer system for leaks myself?


Also did you investigate any of the ideas we suggested, like maybe you have an s-trap and/or your vent is clogged and as a result a small amount of water is being siphoned causing a little bit of sewer gas to leak back into the room. Also might be related, when water heaters start to go bad what happens is apparently the water can give off hydrogen sulfide gas, which stinks. I read that somewhere and I don't remember where. I'm not a plumber so maybe someone can back me up on that. Why don't you just tape up the drain in the shower and the sink hermetically. For the sink you'll also need to tape the overflow holes.
Also... mold? I still like that idea of the rancid shower pan.. When I did some demo a long time ago I saw a lot of hidden mold in a bathroom (big surprise, right?).
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:54 PM   #43
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Also... mold? I still like that idea of the rancid shower pan.. When I did some demo a long time ago I saw a lot of hidden mold in a bathroom (big surprise, right?).

I would like to see pictures of the shower, and also know when the last time grout sealant was put on it.


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Old 01-11-2012, 08:08 AM   #44
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First off- Thanks for the continued responses.

First, I really don't think its the shower pan. If I stick my nose right on the tile floor of the shower and sniff really hard, there is no smell at all. If I close myself into this tiny shower and close the door, I don't smell anything either, whereas outside the shower I do.

And its definitely not a dead animal in the wall. I know what those smell like and this is definitely not it.

---------------------------------------------

With that said I have an interesting development to now share-

I put saran wrap across the bowl last night, sealing it off.

As of this mornings bathroom sniffing, i'm not entirely sure, but I believe the odor is all but gone.

So does this mean a clogged or partially clogged vent pipe would do this? I just don't see how that gas can reverse itself through the water in the bowl, but this is apparently what is happening. I also don't see the level of the toilet dropping either. In fact, I can flush the toilet (this is "Class 5" Kohler flusher), and it powerfully flushes the water right out without issue even with the saran wrap on the bowl. Which really makes me question if my vent is really clogged since everything flushes and drains so well.

My last test to be absolutely sure, is to completely remove the toilet and install it in my formal living room as a new piece of retro furniture. I will then tape and saran wrap the toilet drain and see what smells turn up.

This weekend I will stick a hose down the top of the stack on the roof and turn it on and see what happens.

Last edited by noone; 01-11-2012 at 08:14 AM.
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Old 01-11-2012, 08:59 AM   #45
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Well, if the toilet was set properly you should get no odors from where the wax seal is. If the toilet is full of water you won't get any odors from the bowl either because the water is sealing the sewer gases out.

If what you did fixed it, perhaps it's sulfur in the water, or maybe nobody has flushed the toilet in a while after using it.


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