Sewage smell after shower

Discussion in 'General Plumbing Help' started by caspurr6, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. Nov 30, 2010 #1

    caspurr6

    caspurr6

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    Ok so first of all let me say that i have been doing alot of reading...i hate being that person who posts something that has already been answered somewhere, but the thing is i have found some similar issues, but nothing that quite matches exactly, so i am unfortunatly going to have to risk being that person today...sorry!

    For the past few weeks I have noticed that just about everytime someone takes a shower (usually only after a longer shower, and not so often after just a short one) there is an aweful smell of sewage in the house. Strangely enough the smell doesn't actually seem to be in the bathroom (which is the only one we have), or at least isnt the strongest in there, but rather right outside the bathroom door in the kitchen. We are on a septic system, which was just put in a little over a year ago, and as far as I can remember i haven't smelt this is the past year we've been here. We have a partial basement with crawlspace under the rest of the house, some of which is inaccessible. I am not sure how the plumbing looks down there, so i can't offer much help in that aspect. A few weeks ago i used some drain cleaner because our shower and our kitchen sinks were draining slow. i don't recall smelling this smell until after that. We still have an occasional problem with our kitchen sink draining slow, but that is normally only when some food gets caught up in there. Otherwise things seem to be draining ok, at least better than before i used the drain cleaner.

    I won't claim to know much of anything about plumbing, infact i really don't know much at all and thats why i am here. I am also new to having a septic system which is another reason. I was wondering what could be the causes of this, and what can be done to find out what it is. Although I have admitted to now knowing much, if anything at all, about plumbing i am pretty handy and i am a fast learner, so if this is something i can do on my own i would really like to save the money of hiring someone to fix it, finances are pretty tight!

    Thanks in advance for all your help, and please excuse any silly questions i may need to ask to make sure i am doing things correctly and understanding things fully!

    -Michelle
     
  2. Nov 30, 2010 #2

    caspurr6

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    oh and i forgot to mention that it generally only take 30-60 mins give or take for the smell to go away completely. Or at least until we run another shower!
     
  3. Nov 30, 2010 #3

    Psycho99

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    I give you a few ideas, NEVER PUT ANY CLEANERS IN A SEPTIC SYSTEM unless they are the enzyme type, most cleaners wil do damage to a septic and they are close to useless on a regular system.

    When was the last time you had the septic pumped? it dosesn't matter how old it is you have to check to see if it is overfilliing.:confused:
     
  4. Nov 30, 2010 #4

    phishfood

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    Is there a mechanical vent on the kitchen sink? Look underneath, on the drain piping. Is there an odd looking cylindrical object sticking up from the drain piping somewhere? These can stick open, and it is plausible that as the water from the shower displaces sewer gas in the pipe, it is getting pushed out through the stuck open mechanical vent.
     
  5. Dec 1, 2010 #5

    caspurr6

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    @Psycho99-I didn not put too much cleaner down, but I will remember that for the future. However, I must ask, even though the back of the bottle says it is safe on septic systems?

    We have never had the septic pumped because it is a brand new 1000 gallon system that was put in last year, which is when we bought this house, and there are only 2 of us here. They told us it wouldn't need pumped for at least a couple years.

    @phishfood-I checked under the kitchen sink and i don't see anything that looks odd to me. All i really see is just the pipes that plumb the sink.
     
  6. Dec 1, 2010 #6

    SlowDrip

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    Even if the system is only a year old check it to see if it needs to be pumped. It shouldn't need it after a year but installation problems could mean it is full.

    The vent phishfood is talking about looks like the photo below. Also check you bathroom for one, since people tend to jam them everywhere without understanding what they do. The most common cause for a seweage smell in the house is improper (or damaged) venting.

    [​IMG]

    The smell also might be coming from your ejector pit, have you tried sniffing around there after someone showers?

    One other thing: It might not be related to your septic system at all. A big buildup of hair and residue in the shower drain will start to smell very similar to sewage. Of course, it would probably smell more in your bathroom than the kitchen, but it is worth shoving a snake down the drain and seeing what you come up with.
     
  7. Dec 1, 2010 #7

    caspurr6

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    i will check around the drains for that vent you showed me, but i dont think i have ever seen anything that looked like that before. Do I have to hire someone to come and see if it needs pumped or is there a way i can check myself? Where is this ejector pit? And I don't think i have a snake, but will try and get my hands on one so i can see if that is what it is.
     
  8. Dec 1, 2010 #8

    phishfood

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    If you can't borrow a snake for the shower drain, you might buy a "Zip-It" to try and clean the shower drain. We had a small discussion on the ZipIt a little while ago, I will see if I can find it.
     
  9. Dec 2, 2010 #9

    Mr_David

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    If you're not squeamish or claustrophobic, put on some coveralls and go check under the house for anything obvious.
    Is your drain system old cast Iron, ABS (black plastic) or PVC (white plastic)
    Cast iron has a tendency to crack and fall apart. Could be a cracked vent in the wall

    Here's the ZIP-IT

    Zip-it[/QUOTE]
     
  10. Dec 2, 2010 #10

    caspurr6

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    i did buy an auger/snake last night. I will try and get to the drains sometime today. I have tried to go into the crawlspace before, and i didn't get far.

    oh wow i just watched the video for the zipit, i almost wish i would have gotten that!!

    Oh well, lets see what happens with what i bought, and i will get back to you guys!
     
  11. Dec 2, 2010 #11

    caspurr6

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    ok here is the latest update, the snake i bought wont fit down the drain, lol. So i am going to get one of those zip its and try that. I did pull a small wad of hair out of the drain, and then ran the water for a while to see if that was enough to help, and the smell is back. It took about 30 mins after i stopped running the shower for me to be able to smell it, but oh boy it's back!
     
  12. Dec 3, 2010 #12

    caspurr6

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    another update...i bought one of those zip it things. But there was a problem. I couldnt get it to go down all the way because there must be a sharp angle in the pipe. I put it as far as i could get it though in both the bathtub and the kitchen sink. i did pull some stuff out, but not much at all really. I ran the water for another 20 mins like earlier today and once again after about 30 mins the smell is back. It doesn't seem to be as strong this time as it was last time, but it may get worse with more time.
     
  13. Dec 6, 2010 #13

    caspurr6

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    ok guys it still smells really bad....i thought that cleaning the drains made it a bit better. But it's not. I was woke up by the smell this morning from my boyfriend taking his morning shower. And we have a 1 1/2 story house! What should i check next? I know you guys suggested checking if the tank is full, can i do that myself, or do i have to hire someone. I know you also suggested checking the p-trap...where can i find that at? and which would you suggest i do first, or is there something else i should do first?
     
  14. Dec 6, 2010 #14

    phishfood

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    I am about at the limit of my e-diagnose skills, particularly for sewer smells. One of our professional plumber members on here put it this way when it comes to finding sewer smell problems, "part plumbing and part voodoo".

    Personally, I am not leaning towards it being a overfull septic tank in need of pumping out. But if you know of a cleanout fitting on the drain line between the house and the septic tank, you could remove the plug from that. If you don't see sewage water standing in that, then I wouldn't think that the septic system is your problem.

    Unless someone else posts up some really bright idea that I just didn't think of, then I think that you are at the point of needing to call out a professional that can check out the situation in person.
     
  15. Dec 7, 2010 #15

    havasu

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    I agree. It has been over a week and I believe it is time to bite the bullet and get a professional there to do his magic!
     
  16. Dec 8, 2010 #16

    leatherlung

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    Believe it or not, a bad wax seal on a toilet could cause the same issue your having. Sometimes plumbers will install a flange before the floor is installed and if a tile floor is put in the flange will be below the finished floor and the wax seal might not seal all the way. Check under your sinks for Air Admittance valves. If they were installed correctly then that may be the cause.
     
  17. Dec 8, 2010 #17

    caspurr6

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    well we took a hose up onto the roof last night and ran it down the vent. Although it didnt overflow suggesting that the pipe was blocked...we did notice that shortly after we finished we could smell septic outside, but not right by the tank, so we were hoping that meant the vent was clogged, and that the backup of gases was now coming out. I took a shower last night and we could BARELY smell anything, and it didnt hang around for nearly as long either. We are going to test it again later today and see what happens.
     
  18. Dec 8, 2010 #18

    havasu

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    As leatherlung mentioned, many solve their sewer smells by pulling their toilet and replacing the wax ring. If the smells continue and you choose not to get a professional in there, the wax ring would be the next logical location to inspect.
     
  19. Apr 16, 2014 #19

    talia57

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    I have a similar question , we have awful septic smell after a shower or just in general . We have one bathroom , we are on a slab the tank was pumped 3 weeks ago and it still smells awful. I am going to replace the seal on my toilet in the next few days . But I am wondering how do I check if the stack is cracked somewhere? Is it possible that the stacked is clogged out side from sticks or leaves? I hate septic systems! And what is a enzyme that is recommend? And what if I do not have that vent you are showing on the above picture?
     
  20. Apr 17, 2014 #20

    journeyman

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    Build up around the top of the shower drain will cause this smell. Pull the grate and check the rim of the drain for build up. Also make sure lids to septic are securly in place. Check toilet to make sure base of toilet is sealed with caulk. When the shower runs and water goes down drain it will for the sewer gases down and if toilet is not sealed it will force the gases to come out around base of toilet. If a septic is not installed properly it might be full. Check under house for any leaks. Check to make sure clean out plug is installed properly for kitchen line. If you have any floor drains mostly in laundry room maybe under on of the machines make sure trap is full of water. If trap is dry you will get a sewer smell in house.
     
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