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Old 05-04-2011, 08:37 PM   #1
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Chronic sewer gas odor emitting from upstairs bath


I bought my house (a vacant forclosure) and soon after moving in, noticed a strong septic odor in the upstairs ("ground level"). At first I thought it was because I live caddy-corner to the town's main sewage lift station, but I soon noticed the odor emitting from my bathroom. The bathroom upstairs is directly on top of the bathroom downstairs (in the basement). The problem was so bad and random it would wake us up in the middle of the night. The odor is terrible. About the only thing that occasionally alleviates a "flare up" is to run water into the tub. This does not always work. I hired a plumber from a reputable company and he came out on my day off and looked at the upstairs bathroom. He felt that I needed to have a mechanical trap installed in that bathroom and so he put one in under the sink, even though the odor seemed to emitting from the tub. He felt that this would stop suction which was sucking the water from the P-trap. This worked, or so it seemed, for a couple of weeks. Now the problem is bad as ever. It's very embarrassing when company is over.

Since I demolished the downstairs bathroom due to water damage, I now have direct access to the main sewer pipe from upstairs down to the floor of the basement. I never detected odors in the basement, just upstairs. However, I'm wondering if something down here is causing it. P-traps seem to be in all the right places and I'm scratching my head here.

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Old 05-04-2011, 09:06 PM   #2
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Chronic sewer gas odor emitting from upstairs bath


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Originally Posted by kadetklapp View Post
I hired a plumber from a reputable company and he came out on my day off and looked at the upstairs bathroom. He felt that I needed to have a mechanical trap installed in that bathroom and so he put one in under the sink, even though the odor seemed to emitting from the tub. He felt that this would stop suction which was sucking the water from the P-trap. This worked, or so it seemed, for a couple of weeks.
Roto Rooter? But seriously, post some pictures especially of the exposed plumbing under the tub. There are plenty of folks on here that can help you. I don't know why the plumber thought it was the sink trap if the smell was coming from the tub. Sounds more like the tub trap is having water siphoned out to me.

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Old 05-04-2011, 09:55 PM   #3
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Chronic sewer gas odor emitting from upstairs bath


Sounds like a venting problem----How old is the house?

What are the drain pipes made of?

Can you put a hose into the roof vent and flush it out?

We need a few more details---Could be several things.---Mike----
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Old 05-05-2011, 07:02 AM   #4
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Chronic sewer gas odor emitting from upstairs bath


Ok here is a picture of the drain under the upstairs tub.



The house was built in 1978. I know next to nothing about plumbing so you'll have to bear with me.

Whenever the toilet is flushed, a very audible "gurgling" is heard in both tub and sink drains.

I think the only vent is attached to the side of the house. I do not know what would happen if I tried to flush it out so I never touched it.

Last edited by kadetklapp; 05-05-2011 at 07:04 AM.
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Old 05-05-2011, 07:16 AM   #5
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Chronic sewer gas odor emitting from upstairs bath


well that definitely appears to be unvented, or at least an s trap. i've a bit concerned with the sound while the toilet flushes. you might have a drain stoppage as well. do you hear the same sound when the washing machine drains? you should probably bring in an actual "reputable" plumber (not a franchise rooter co., talk to your neighbors and find someone they've used and been happy with) and show him what you have exposed. listen to what he says, get a detailed written bid, and then get 2 more afterwards. be prepared to redo the upstairs bath when the basement one is done, it could get pretty extensive
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Old 05-05-2011, 07:26 AM   #6
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Chronic sewer gas odor emitting from upstairs bath


Firstly, that S-Trap under the tub is probably siphoning itself dry.That needs to be fixed for sure. I'd like to know how the bathroom is vented. Bet it's wet vented and also done wrong.
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Old 05-05-2011, 12:18 PM   #7
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Chronic sewer gas odor emitting from upstairs bath


I hear the sound when the washing machine does drain. I don't hear it when I flushed the downstairs toilet.

I called a plumber and he is supposed to swing by tomorrow to check it out. He's owned a large plumbing company in my town for more than 35 years so hopefully he can pin-point the problem.
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Old 05-05-2011, 07:12 PM   #8
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Chronic sewer gas odor emitting from upstairs bath


You made a good call---to an experienced plumber!

You made his job easier ,having a good view from below.

Please let us know the outcome.---Mike--
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Old 04-03-2012, 03:52 PM   #9
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Chronic sewer gas odor emitting from upstairs bath


No outcome as of yet. I'm in the process of rebuilding the downstairs bathroom as we speak. It's about 40% complete. I feel that in order to actually fix this problem I will be forced to tear out the upstairs bath, so I'm going to go ahead and get a working bathroom at ground zero and work up. Can a vent simply be attached to the highest point of the main sewer line (from upstairs drain down) and go up thru the walls and out thru the roof?
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Old 04-03-2012, 05:05 PM   #10
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Chronic sewer gas odor emitting from upstairs bath


I would not install the ceiling in the downstairs bath until the plumbing for the upstairs bath is corrected. Was that CPVC valve hidden in the ceiling?

All that plumbing looks hack and should be replaced.

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