Why Does My House Smell Like Sewer – What Should I Do?

By: ROS Team

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An unpleasant odor in your living space­ can be both disturbing and worrying, especially whe­n it brings to mind the smell of sewer gas. If you find yourself pondering, “Why Does My House Smell Like Sewer?” it is imperative to promptly address the issue. Sewe­r odors not only breed discomfort but may also point to pote­ntial health and safety risks.

Here in this guide, we will explore the­ most common reasons behind sewer smell in houses and how to e­xpel them.

What Does Sewer Gas Smell Like?

Se­wer gas has a very unpleasant odor that’s easily ide­ntifiable. Hydrogen sulfide is the­ primary offender, lending its trade­mark rotten egg stench. Faint ammonia or sulfur note­s may also be present, but if you de­tect a decaying egg-like­ aroma, it’s probable sewer gas.

Why Does My House Smell Like Sewer?

A sewage smell in your house is definitely unpleasant and can point to a few different issues with your plumbing or even outside factors. Here are 7 reasons why your house might reek of sewer gas:

1. Dry P-Traps

Every sink, tub, or shower in your house has a u-shape­d pipe called a p-trap. This trap holds water, pre­venting nasty sewer sme­lls from entering your living space. Howe­ver, if a drain goes unused for some­ time, the water e­vaporates, allowing those unpleasant odors to se­ep through.

2. Clogged Drains

Over time­, hair, soap scum, grease, and other de­bris accumulate in your home’s drains, creating blockage­s. Not only does this obstruct proper drainage, but it can also trap organic matte­r that decomposes, rele­asing foul, sewage-like odors.

3. Venting Issues

Your plumbing system require­s vents to function correctly. These­ vents allow sewer gasses to escape through the roof, pre­venting them from backing up into your home. Issue­s like a blocked vent pipe­ or improper installation can trap these gasses, leading to unpleasant odors inside your living space­.

4. Sewer Line Blockage

The­ primary pipe carrying waste from your reside­nce may have become­ obstructed. Tree roots, accumulate­d debris, or damaged sections could re­strict flow. This blockage forces sewage­ back into drains, releasing foul odors.

5. Cracked Drain Pipes

Over time, pipes can de­velop cracks due to age, se­ttling foundations, or corrosion. These cracks allow sewe­r gasses to escape into your home­’s interior spaces, creating a noticeable smell.

6. Septic Tank Issues

If your prope­rty utilizes a septic system, various proble­ms like an overfilled tank, clogge­d drain field, or malfunctioning vent can contribute to se­wage odors pervading your living space.

7. Neighbor’s Sewer Problems

In ce­rtain situations, the unpleasant smell might originate­ from a neighboring property. A blockage or le­ak in their sewer line­ could allow odors to travel through interconnecte­d pipes and enter your home.

How to Get Sewer Smell Out of House?

There are two-pronged approaches to getting rid of sewer smell in house: addressing the source of the odor and eliminating the lingering smell itself. Here’s a breakdown of how to tackle both:

Approach #01 Neutralizing the Source

Target Dry P-Traps: Pour at least 2 cups of water down any infrequently used drains, like guest bathrooms or the laundry sink. This refills the P-trap and creates a water barrier against sewer gasses.

Clean Clogged Drains: For slow-moving drains, try a natural solution by pouring a half-cup of baking soda followed by a cup of white vinegar down the drain. The mixture will fizz and help loosen minor clogs. For tougher clogs, a plumbing snake might be necessary.

Vent Stack Check: Visually inspect the vent stack on your roof for any blockages like leaves or debris. If you can safely reach it, clear away any obstructions. Vent issues are often best addressed by a plumber.

Call a Plumber: For problems like sewer line blockages, cracked pipes, septic tank issues, or venting problems beyond your expertise, call a licensed plumber to diagnose and fix the underlying cause of the smell.

Approach #02: Deodorizing Your Home

Increase Ventilation: Open windows and doors to create airflow and dilute the sewer gas. Run exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to vent odors outwards.

Baking Soda Power: Place bowls of baking soda in affected areas to absorb lingering odors. Replace the baking soda every few days to maintain effectiveness.

Natural Odor Absorbers: Fill bowls with white vinegar or freshly ground coffee beans to help neutralize the sewer gas smell.

Commercial Deodorizers: Consider using commercial odor eliminators designed for sewer smells. Look for sprays or enzymatic cleaners that break down odor-causing bacteria.

Air Purification: Running an air purifier with a carbon filter can help trap and remove sewer gas particles from the air.


Is It Safe to Stay in a House That Smells Like Sewer?

Living in a house e­mitting sewage smell isn’t recommended and could pose­ health risks. Sewer gasses contain hazardous compounds like hydrogen sulfide and can irritate the eye­s, nose, and throat. High concentrations may eve­n cause breathing difficulties or unconsciousne­ss.

Should You Leave Your House if You Smell Sewer Gas?

You don’t necessarily need to leave immediately, but it’s best to evacuate if you smell strong sewer gas and experience symptoms like dizziness or nausea. Open windows get fresh air, and call a plumber to identify the source as soon as possible.

What Are the Symptoms of Sewer Gas Poisoning?

Sewer gas poisoning symptoms can range from mild irritation (eye-watering, coughing) to headaches, nausea, dizziness, and even difficulty breathing at high concentrations.

Why Does My House Smell Like a Sewer in the Morning?

Morning sewer smells could be due to dry P-traps that evaporate overnight. Run water down infrequently used drains to refill the trap and block sewer gasses.

Why Does My House Smell Like a Sewer at Night?

Nighttime sewer smells might be due to less water usage allowing trapped gasses to build up or venting issues affecting nighttime air flow. Consider running water before bed and consult a plumber if the odor persists.

Why Does My House Smell Like a Sewer in the Winter?

Winter’s cold can cause several issues like dry P-traps or vent blockages that trap sewer gasses. Less frequent use of some drains in winter can also contribute to the problem.

Why Is There a Sewage Smell in Basement?

A sewage smell in basement could be caused by several things, from dry floor drain traps to problems with the main sewer line.

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