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Ewww...That Smell!

Post Date:07/10/2018 11:50 AM

Smell something coming from the toilet or a basement floor drain? There are always gases present in sanitary sewers-- gases known for their unpleasant odors. While City sewers are cleared on a regular basis, materials flushed down drains and toilets cause these odors. There is no maintenance the City can do to prevent the formation of these gases in sanitary sewers. However, there is something YOU can do!

Plumbing is built to prevent the escape of these unpleasant gases into buildings. If odor is detected some simple maintenance may resolve the problem. Sewer traps in plumbing have a loop in the pipe that holds a reservoir of water. It is the water in the drain traps that prevents odors in the sewers from escaping into buildings. (See figure below.)

Sewer Odor Illustration


Normally, this trap (reservoir) is hidden but the reservoir in a toilet is obvious. If sewer gas is escaping into your home or business, the most common problems are: 

1. Water in the trap has evaporated from a rarely used drain. 

2. A joint or cap, that should be airtight, is no longer sealed. A previous sewer cleaning may have resulted in come caps not being replaced. 

3. The wax ring that seals a toilet is no longer airtight and needs to be replaced. 

4. A sewer vent pipe that extends through the roof is clogged preventing sewer gases from ventilating to the outside. 

A dry trap can be corrected by pouring water into the trap (1). However, a qualified plumbing contractor will be required to look into these other problems [(2), (3), (4)]. Some plumbing contractors only clean sewers, which will not correct any of these problems. A plumbing contractor that installs plumbing fixtures will be required to make these repairs. 

If the city can provide any other information, please call the Public Works Department (816) 316-4856. 


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