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pumpkin8 01-18-2010 04:41 PM

Water pipe coming from street smells bad
Please help! I've been in my house about a year and I'm smelling a really bad odor from the pipes that lead into the house (in the basement) from the street (the water meter is attached to it). It smells so bad that I sometimes don't invite people over. It seems to get worse when it rains a lot or if we get a lot of snow and it starts melting. Any ideas? Please help!

tpolk 01-18-2010 05:04 PM

sometimes water lines and sewerlines are run in same ditch with what you're saying the smell is from the outside of the Pipe? If so my be a leak in septic line traveling back along waterline. Sometimes if ditch is not tamped properly earth settling can cause a fracture in pipe. Is the hole around the waterline coming thru the wall sealed? does it get damp/wet around the waterline inside?

nap 01-18-2010 05:46 PM

if this is not from the water itself (not totally understanding the situation), it could quite likely be from a broken sewer pipe. When the ground is not saturated with water, the leakage most likely simply leeches into the ground or evaporates.

when the ground becomes saturated due to the rain or melting snow, it could cause the leakage to not drain away and if the break is close to the house, it could pool near the house.

while sealing where the pipes enter/exit the house would probably remedy the immediate problem, it will not fix the underlying cause. Sounds like somebody will need to have the sewer cam guys take a look or invest in a shovel (my method).

If this has been ongoing, the grass color could indicate where the leak is (if there is grass) as the grass immediately over a leak would most likely be greener than the rest of the lawn.

on the possibility that there could actually be something contaminating your water, the first thing I would do is run a glass of water from the cold water faucet away from this area (in the kitchen or what ever) and smell it. Then allow it to warm and smell it. If there is no similar odor, I would guess it is not contaminated but it still might be a good idea to get it checked by the health department or some other testing lab (depends what your area has available and services provided).

if the water has the same odor, I would immediately stop using the water for drinking and cooking and if you can, any use and get it tested ASAP. Some water does have bad odors and the cause is innocuous but it is better safe than sorry.

pumpkin8 01-18-2010 06:34 PM

Thank you for the very informative and quick replies. The water line coming into the house is sealed and appears dry. The drinking water doesn't smell, even after I let it warm up. I definitely need to determine the cause and it might very well be a broken pipe somewhere. Is this a task for a plumber, the water company or the township? I'm not sure what my next steps are ... Thanks! Pumpkin.

nap 01-18-2010 07:23 PM


s this a task for a plumber, the water company or the township?
if your area is anything like mine, the water and sewer departments are separate and each handles their own work but something like this would most likely be the home owners responsibility.

as such, depending on how handy you are with a shovel or have a friend with a sewer cam (which, btw, does not always show everything and may actually be useless in your situation) I would call a plumbing company that does sewer work.

before you get that far, one question and this is because there was recently a thread involving a guy with what he though was a natural gas leak in his house and it made me think of another possibility:

do you have either natural or LP gas to your house? Is it anywhere near where the smell emanates? Do you know what LP or natural gas smells like?

I would think a leaking gas line could also leak back into the house as well, maybe even easier than sewer smells and the same thing would apply to the wet ground.

If you believe it might be gas (natural or LP) do not turn on any switches, breakers, anything electrical which really causes concern when we think about a furnace running.

anyway, not trying to scare you, just thinking of possibilities.

if you believe it might be LP or natural gas, in my area I would contact the fire department as ours has a gas detector and would check if it was,

pumpkin8 01-18-2010 08:10 PM

Thanks for all the ideas - it's greatly appreciated since I know nothing about this stuff (most women don't). I will start calling places tomorrow. I'll post as soon as I know what is causing this. I do have natural gas coming in but I don't think it's near the water line entry but I'm not ruling that out.

Thanks again...

AllanJ 01-19-2010 09:24 AM

Also check for cracks in the foundation wall near where the water line enters and near where the sewer line exits. Fill these cracks. You might want to also paint the wall to improve the seal where you are suspicious that a new much finer crack developed along the filling material you used.

daveb1 01-19-2010 10:32 AM

pumpkin is there a floor drain near where you notice the odour?Could be that that trap has dried out.Would just need some water poured into it.

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