Why Does My Bathroom Smell Like Sewage

Last Updated on April 20, 2021

Does your bathroom have a lingering egg smell or sewage smell? If a persistent sewer odor is lingering in your bathroom, then you need to locate and resolve the issue, and not just for the sake of the foul odor.

The source of the sewer odor could be caused by a clogged drain, a bad seal or wax ring on the toilet, dirty drain pipes, a faulty p-trap in your bathroom plumbing, or the indication that your sewer line needs to be replaced. Remedying the solution can require unclogging the drain with a sink plunger, pouring baking soda or bleach down the drains, or calling up a plumber to solve this problem and eliminate the smell coming from its source.

siphon cleaning

Types of Sewer Smells

There are all kinds of sewer smells, identifying what the odor smells like can help determine what is causing the issue and help you fix the problem quicker.

Egg Smell

A foul egg smell in the bathroom could be caused by a few things. It could be a clogged drain, an empty p-trap under the bathroom sink, or a dirty toilet bowl. Keep this from being an issue in your house by performing routine cleaning and maintenance.

Call a plumber every six months for general maintenance if you don’t want to do it.

Sewage Smell

A sewage smell in your bathroom can indicate several problems. Remember to use caution when locating the odor in your home, it could be hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is a poisonous gas that can cause dizziness, nausea, and in extreme cases, even death.

No one likes the stench of sewer odor, locate the source of the smell, such as an improperly installed p-trap or the seal on a toilet, and prevent sewage gases from plaguing your bathroom.

What Can Cause a Sewer Smell

A foul smell in your bathroom can have any number of culprits, such as a broken wax ring around the toilet, a faulty p-trap, dirty water in the water heater, or a clogged drain or vent pipe. Determine the source of the smell by eliminating the possibilities.

A Broken Seal or Wax Ring

If you have a broken seal or wax ring around the base of your toilet, then sewer gases may be escaping through it. When investigating if the smell is coming from a broken seal, remember to use rubber gloves to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses.

No big surprise, the area around the toilet is a prime suspect when it comes to a bad smell in the bathroom. Ensure that the wax ring and seal are properly installed and aren’t cracked or damaged in any way.

A wax ring is a very cheap fix, so don’t put off a simple repair and suffer through the odor any longer.

Your bathroom shouldn’t have a sewer gas smell, fix the problem with your toilet and eliminate the odor.

Check the Shower

If you have a bad smell in the bathroom, funky water or a clogged shower drain might be the problem. A shower drain gets all kinds of debris washed down it, take the time to check your shower drain every few months to ensure an issue doesn’t arise with a bad smell and draining problems.

If the shower drain is working fine and you can’t get rid of the smell in the bathroom, it might be an issue with the drainpipe and its p-trap not having a layer of water to prevent gases from traveling up the pipes.

Showers get used daily, and soap scum and the likes accumulate in the tub and drain. Keep your shower clean and working properly.

Check the Water Heater

If you’re noticing a rotten egg or other foul smell when you run water, then you might need to check the water heater. Water sitting inside your water heater can build up bacteria and rust, which causes it to become foul-smelling and brown. If this is happening to you, run the water from your taps for several minutes, until it becomes clear.

The problem may persist, if it does, then you may have to replace it or some of your water supply lines, hopefully not the ones leading to the house.

Hot and clean water on demand is quite nice, you should want to keep it in supply.

Check Your P Traps

A critical part of any plumbing drainpipe, p-traps are designed to prevent sewer gases from entering the home thanks to a layer of water that gets trapped in the u-shaped pipe of the p-trap. This thin layer of water can eventually diminish over time.

A lack of water in the p trap, due to evaporation, can cause the foul odor from the sewer gases to travel up the drain and permeate the bathroom. The faulty p-trap could be from the washing machine drainpipe, the plumbing under the bathroom sink, or somewhere else in the house.

clogged sink pipe

Keep this from becoming a problem and make sure to service your plumbing regularly. The toilet bowl isn’t the only source of foul odors in the bathroom.

Check Your Drains

If you’re not one for cleaning out the drains on a routine basis, you might need to unclog yours. An accumulation of debris and the likes may have clogged your drainpipe and caused bacteria to grow on whatever decaying matter is lodged down there.

Your drains have dozens of gallons of water flowing down them every month, so it’s important to keep them in working order. Take the time to remain the drain traps and clean them.

Keeping your floor drain, shower drain, and bathroom drain clean will make your life simpler and the need to call a plumber almost zero.

Check the Vent Pipe

If you’re noticing a foul smell and you don’t think water or the toilet is the source of the smell, then you might need to get on the roof and clean out your vent pipe.

Occasionally, birds and other small animals will make a nest inside of vent pipes and clog them up in the process. Thankfully, this is a simple problem to fix. All you have to do is clear out the obstruction and the vent pipe will function as intended, allowing gases to escape your home and not build up to intolerable levels.

While you’re on the roof, you can check the shingles and see if they need to be replaced. You might save that job for the roofers.

A sewer gas smell in your bathroom can be caused by several different things, get rid of the smell and begin breathing easy again.

Tools and Supplies to Fix the Problem

Having the right tool for the job is only part of the problem, you also need the know-how, and the supplies to use it with. If you want to fix the problem and get rid of the smell, then you need to gather a few things first.

  • Flashlight
  • Plunger
  • Rubber gloves
  • Baking Soda
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Bleach
  • Pipe wrench
  • Screwdriver (Philips and Flathead)
  • New P-trap

Although you might not need everything on the list, having it around will come in handy if you have a smell coming from your bathroom and need to locate the source fast. Be prepared.

sink plunger

How to Eliminate Sewer Gas

The smell of sewage in the bathroom could be from your water heater, hydrogen sulfide, dirty drains, faulty plumbing, or a broken sewer line. Eliminate the possibilities and get rid of the sewage gas issue in your home.

Check for a Clogged Drain

If you suspect that you have a clogged drain or drain pipe and that the bad odors are a result of it, you have two reasons to take care of the situation.

Try pouring baking soda and vinegar, a cup of each, down the drain to force the blockage build-up loose. Just like a science fair volcano, the pressure build-up should cause the clog to explode down into the sewer.

If that doesn’t work, then try standard drain cleaner. Follow the instructions on the bottle and then try flushing the drain with hot water. Test to see if it’s still clogged and if the sewer gas smell still is present.

Assuming the chemicals don’t do the trick, then it’s time for some brute force and suction power. Use a plunger on the drain and attempt to unclog it, this may take a bit of effort. Again, flush the drain with hot water and then test if it’s still obstructed.

Service the Water Heater

If you haven’t been home recently or you haven’t been running a lot of water, then you might need to check the water heater for the source of the smell.

Stagnant or dirty water from a water heater is a common cause of foul odors in a home. For those of you with this problem, you’ll need to run water down the drain until you get clean water flowing and back in the tank.

A big tank of water sitting around can be a problem after a while, remember to run water down the drain from your taps for several minutes if you’re just getting back from vacation or haven’t been home in a few days.

If you’re still having issues after flushing the water out, then you may need to buy a new one. They’re expensive and come in a variety of options, you’ll have to shop around to find one that works for you.

Clean the Toilet

The source of the smell may very well be the toilet bowl in your bathroom. If your toilet bowl is dirty or the water in it is not so fresh, then this is most likely the problem.

Clean the toilet and toilet bowl thoroughly and see if that takes care of the problem for you. For those of you who don’t like to clean the toilet, then buy the flush cleaners they sell and use those.

A toilet is used a lot, it’s important to do it justice and keep it clean. The smell of the dirty toilet bowl might have been mistaken for sewage gases.

Clean the Shower

The source of the sewage gas and bad smell in the bathroom could be your shower and its drain. Servicing them on a regular basis can help get rid of any smell that might otherwise persist in your bathroom.

If left unchecked, a dirty drain can quickly become an issue, remember to clean shower drains regularly, even the guest bathroom, assuming you have one.

If the drains are clean and the smell in the bathroom still lingers, you might need to service the p-trap in the shower drain.

While you’re cleaning the shower, make sure to check the seal around the drain, it could be the issue.

Use Air Fresheners

Even after you’ve cleaned your floor drain and p-traps, you should freshen the home up a bit. Air fresheners are a great way to make the temporary smells go away in your home and bathroom, all you need is a spritz or two of your favorite scent.

The causes of a foul odor can be numerous, one idea to help the issue is to freshen up the air. Not all gas has to be smelly in a bad way, use an odor-eliminating one to solve your problem, assuming it’s nothing serious.

Unless the smell is coming from a scented candle or a bottle of scented spray, you probably want it to go away. Make the bad odors disappear and regret having reared their ugly heads.

Service Your P Trap

The plumbing for the drainage system in your bathroom has a part on it called the p-trap, this pipe is designed to store a pocket of water and keep gas from the sewer from entering into the bathroom via the sink drain.

A lack of water in the p-trap can cause the smell of sewage, due to sewer gases, to permeate throughout the bathroom. If you’re noticing a sewer odor, then it’s time to check p-traps and to make the smell problem go away.

The p-trap is crucial to preventing foul odors from entering the bathroom. Make sure there is water in the p-trap and replace it if necessary. Keep the sewer gas smell from traveling up your pipes because of a faulty p-trap.

You can always call a plumber to fix the problem and stop that sewer gas in its track.

Clean the Vent Pipe

Another problem that can cause a smell in the bathroom is a clogged or improperly installed vent pipe. Clearing any obstructions, such as leaves, dust, etc. from it and ensuring that it’s installed correctly will fix the problem.

You can access the vent pipe by the roof or attic in some homes, remember to bring a flashlight to help you view any blockages in the pipe. Generally, you don’t need to replace vent pipes very often, just make sure that it was installed correctly and that it’s debris-free.

Vent pipes are designed to allow smells like sewer gas and other odors to escape your home. Get rid of the smell in the bathroom by checking the vent pipe in your home.

Faulty Sewer Line

If you’ve checked everything else and the sewer odor still persists in your bathroom and house, then you might have a broken or cracked sewer line that is leaking sewer gases into your home.

A faulty sewer line is an expensive repair, it will cost you at least $3,000 to fix the problem and keep the sewer smell and your home separate.

If the issue is the sewage system, then you should call around for the best price, but do it quickly.

Call a Plumber

If you have a problem with dealing with the smell of sewage and other bad odors or don’t like the thought of dealing with a clogged drain, then you need to call a plumber.

Customer service will be able to assist you with scheduling an appointment to fix the problem of the smell in your bathroom. Given that plumbers deal with the causes of sewer gas smell on a daily basis, they’ll have your bathroom back to working order in no time at all.

Make sure to get an estimate before you agree to anything, don’t overpay.

The smell of eggs and sewage gas seeping up through the pipes is never pleasant, you need to deal with it immediately if you notice this in your bathroom. Locating the source of the smell of sewage may prove a challenge, but start with the simple solutions and work your way down the list.

Routine Maintenance

Letting your plumbing fall into disrepair isn’t a wise or practical thing to do. With a little bit of effort and some know-how, you can keep your bathroom up to par and smelling fresh.

Clean the Drains

To keep any odor from building up, clean out your drains on a regular basis, every 3 months or so. All you need to do is keep the drain trap clean and free of debris and pour either baking soda or bleach down it.

Hair in bath drain

This easy task will keep the bathroom drains fresh and relatively clean, with no more pesky odor.

Clean the Toilet

Although it’s nice to not think about it, your toilet needs to be cleaned quite frequently.

Cleaning the toilet doesn’t have to be a disgusting and cumbersome endeavor, they sell all kinds of hands-free solutions for toilet bowl scrubbers. Some of them utilize the power of the water flushed in the toilet and others rely on strong, scented chemicals. If you don’t want to spend a lot on cleaners, then use the traditional toilet scrubber and get to work.

If you’re noticing a dirty toilet bowl and an odor, don’t hesitate to bust out the rubber gloves and toilet scrubber.

Keeping your bathroom fresh and clean starts with a clean toilet and a whole lot of bleach.

Clean out Your Plumbing

You don’t have to take apart all of the plumbing in your house to keep it all clean.

All you need to do is routinely pour some drain cleaner or baking soda and vinegar down there and let it sit for a few minutes before turning on the water. If you want to get a little ambitious, then you could undo the drainpipe every 3-6 months and clean it out with a scrub brush.

Illustration of chemical agent in pipes

Flush out Your Water Heater

It’s recommended to occasionally flush out the sediment that builds up inside your water heater. There’s a drain with a spout attachment on the bottom of most units that allows for easy draining.

Just attach the hose and feed it outside or into a drain. This will take several minutes so be patient when you’re performing this maintenance.

Remember to keep an eye on it when it’s draining, you can very easily have a huge mess on your hands in a matter of seconds.

Clean out Your Vents

The vent pipe on your roof is an important part of the exhaust system in your house. You can help keep it operating properly by servicing it at least twice a year.

All you need to do is keep the pipe free of debris, such as nests or twigs, and make sure that the vent covers are also clean.

If you’re feeling ambitious, then you can actually undo the vent covers and scrub the inside of the vents, a simple dust wand with some mild cleaner will do the trick.

Your vents play a critical role in keeping your bathroom and house odor-free and fresh. A few hours of work a year can make a real difference in your air quality.

Doing just a little maintenance on your bathroom and plumbing can help out tremendously when it comes to preventing mishaps and sewer odors from popping up. Stay proactive and keep your house functioning properly, not only does it provide peace of mind, but it also helps with the property value as well.

More Resources

There are a lot of great places, physically and virtually, for you to go for help on sewer problems and bad smells. If you’re still in need of assistance and want more information on dealing with sewer gas and a sewer smell in your bathroom, then check out some more resources.

Hardware Store

You can find all kinds of advice on preventing and eliminating a sewer smell at the hardware store. Just look for an employee that works in the plumbing department and ask them for tips on how to keep or get a sewer smell out of the bathroom.

They’ll be able to make all kinds of suggestions for prevention and routine maintenance to keep your bathroom in top shape and sewer smell-free.

If it’s past store hours, you can always go online and find all kinds of helpful solutions on their website. Part of the service of a hardware store is providing you with the information to get the job done, make sure to take advantage of that and ask for advice when needed.

DIY Forums

For those who enjoy doing home repair themselves, then you might want to get helpful advice on a DIY forum. You can learn all kinds of tricks for cleaning or replacing a toilet, swapping out the bathroom sink plumbing, or installing a new shower.

You can also check out some remodeling shows or magazines for tips and tricks that are priceless for homeowners. You can begin planning that much-needed bathroom remodel while you research causes and ways to eliminate sewage odor in a home.

When you’re ready, you can keep the DIY tradition alive and help contribute to someone else’s home repair project.

Don’t just limit yourself to one opinion or piece of advice, there are more than 7.5 billion people on this planet, someone is bound to have come up with a better solution than what you’ve heard or tried. Since a problem can happen at any moment, it’s nice to know of some resources you can turn to at any time of the day or night.

Tips to Prevent Sewage Smells in Your Home and Bathroom

Keeping the sewage system smell out of your house should be a top priority. If you don’t like having to rush and deal with an unexpected dilemma, like a sewer odor cropping up in the middle of the night, then you should be doing these suggestions.

  • Check your seals and wax ring around the toilet every six months. Prevent foul odors from infesting your bathroom.
  • Pour some chlorine bleach or baking soda, don’t mix them, down the bathroom drains every few weeks, this includes the shower drain.
  • Clean out the washing machine every few weeks with a mild chlorine bleach solution or some borax.
  • Make sure to run your hot water regularly. The foul odor in your home could be from stagnant water in your water heater.
  • Check for improperly installed or clogged vent pipes in your home.
  • Eliminate any stagnant water in your house. Bacteria can build up in it and put off bad smells.
  • If you have a septic tank, have it serviced at least once every 3 years, you don’t want it backing up into the house. If you notice issues with all of your drains draining slowly or making noises, it’s probably time to get the septic tank serviced.

Keeping your bathroom smelling fresh and preventing a sewer gas smell from overtaking it isn’t that hard of a job. All you need to do is practice a little bit of routine maintenance and clean the toilet and shower often. If you can manage to keep up-to-date on these tasks, then you’ll be doing better off than a lot of other homeowners.

clogged dirty drain in bath

A foul-smelling odor in a bathroom could be the sign of a larger problem, make sure to deal with it before you have something more serious like sewage backing up into your bathroom and shower. Deal with the cause before it becomes an expensive issue.

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