Basement Sewer Smells Be Gone! Here’s How to Handle Sewer Gas at Home

Basements are the chosen setting for many ghost stories growing up—every creaky floorboard or spooky shadow is a potential threat looming. But what most people don’t realize once they become homeowners is that a very real concern does indeed lurk beneath the basement. Your home’s plumbing system is typically close by and has the potential to haunt your home with unpleasant sewer gas smells if the pipes become damaged or worn down.

And unlike your fear of the dark, basement sewer smells won’t just go away if you ignore them. A persistent sewage smell in your house could point to a larger problem with your home plumbing requiring professional attention. If your basement starts to stink, it’s important to locate the source of the smell before it gets worse or leads to other issues.

Why does my basement smell like sewer?

Sewer gas smells have a variety of causes, such as broken plumbing fixtures or dried-out drains. However, the main problem to consider is potential issues in your home’s sewer line, which carries wastewater beneath your home. If this critical pipe is damaged, sewer gas will leak back into your home through the nearby basement.

All of your home plumbing feeds into this main sewer line (known as a sewer lateral), which connects to the municipal sewer main en route to a water treatment facility. Strong sewer smells in your basement could indicate the lateral is blocked or broken, causing waste and sewage odors to back up into your basement. But that’s the worst-case scenario. Sometimes, a neglected drain is the culprit, in which case a thorough cleaning can blast away odors. No matter what, it’s important to pinpoint the source of the sewer gas smell in your basement to rule out any potential hazards to your home.

What does sewer gas smell like?

Sewer gas smells distinctly of rotten eggs. Unlike natural gas leaks, which can be difficult to detect, homeowners should be able to recognize sewer smells in their basement by a strong sulfuric scent. That’s because as sewer waste decomposes, it emits several powerful gasses, including hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide and ammonia.

However, many natural gas utility servicers add a skunk-scented chemical to your gas supply to get your attention in case of a leak. Natural gas is highly toxic and flammable compared to low-risk sewer gas, so if you’re ever questioning what you’re smelling, be sure to ventilate the area, move to fresh air and contact the gas company right away to rule out a natural gas leak. Sewer gas is relatively safer but still requires your attention to remove the smell.

Is sewer gas dangerous?

Although it’s stinky, the hydrogen sulfide in sewer gas isn’t harmful unless you experience high concentrations or prolonged exposure. The powerful sewer gas smell should alert you to a plumbing issue before it reaches dangerous levels.

Still, be aware that heavy concentrations of hydrogen sulfide can cause symptoms like vomiting, headaches and dizziness, which can escalate to losing consciousness if you don’t move to fresh air. Even if it’s not overtly harming you, remember sewage smells in your house are often an indicator something is amiss with your plumbing. If ignored, you’ll have clogged pipes, flooded floors and failed plumbing on top of a stinky basement.

What is causing the sewage smell in my house?

Sewer odors in your home may stem from an issue with one plumbing fixture, like a leaky toilet or clogged drain, or they could indicate a much larger issue in your home’s main sewer line. If the latter is true, the damage causing the odors has implications for all of the plumbing in your home.

Blockage Localized to a Specific Plumbing Fixture

If you detect a sewer gas smell in your basement, do a quick inspection of all the drains and plumbing fixtures in the room. A clog in a basement drain or sink could be behind the sewage odors as standing water grows stale and bacteria and grime build up.

If it’s safe to do so, be sure to check out the sewer vent located on your roof to see if any debris is blocking it. Your home’s sewer vent is an outlet designed to direct sewer gas away from your home, so if it’s blocked, sewer gas smells are essentially trapped inside.

Blockage in Your Main Sewer Line

If sewer gas smells seem to be coming from multiple drains, a blockage may be located in your home’s sewer line, which would limit the flow of all wastewater from your home. Along with sewage odors, a blocked sewer line can cause sewer backups and flooding in your basement. If upstairs bathrooms also start to have that signature rotten egg smell, it’s a good sign the issue is with your home’s sewer line rather than an individual drain. A sewer line blockage is severe enough to impact all plumbing in your home and requires professional attention to safely resolve the issue.

Damage Localized to a Specific Plumbing Fixture

If plumbing fixtures in your home were improperly installed or ill-maintained over the years, loose or broken parts could be behind your basement sewer smell. The most common culprits are drain water traps, sewer vents and wax seals.

Basement drains are equipped with what’s known as a water trap, which is responsible for retaining water in the pipe so sewer gas is unable to get through. If the drain isn’t used on a regular basis, the water in the trap dries up, so sewer gas is free to escape. To combat this issue, be sure to run water in your basement regularly to keep the trap hydrated and full.

Along with blockages, sewer vents are susceptible to additional damage, such as corrosion, which is another limiting factor trapping sewer gas within the vent and, subsequently, your home. Similarly, toilets have a wax seal to keep sewer gas safely contained. If the seal is broken, leaky or loose, a particular basement toilet may be the source of the stench.

Damage to Your Main Sewer Line

Much like a blockage in your home’s main sewer line, other issues like a cracked or damaged pipe are a threat to your home, especially if your home is still working with old pipes installed decades ago. Sewer lines are traditionally located beneath a homeowner’s front lawn or driveway, making them easy targets for intrusive tree roots seeking a dependable water source.

When tree roots or other debris invade a sewer line, they form a blockage and exert pressure within the pipe, causing it to crack or even collapse if the issue is severe enough. Broken pipes leak sewage and sewer gas smells into the surrounding area, including your basement. Remember, if the issue is with your main sewer line, plumbing throughout your whole home is at risk.

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How to Get Rid of Sewer Smells in Your Basement

First, ventilate the area and check sinks, drains and toilets for any damaged or loose parts to rule out individual plumbing fixtures. If sewer smells are persistent, the issue is likely in your home’s main sewer line, which requires professional sewer and drain cleaning or trenchless pipe repair as applicable.

If you’re unsure about the source of the sewer smell in your basement, hire a plumbing professional to be on the safe side. Some pipe repair specialists offer free sewer camera inspections to determine if the issue is in your home’s sewer line. If a broken or blocked sewer line is the source of the sewage smell in your house, trying to clean out your drains with DIY solutions or drain cleaners will only escalate the issue by adding to the blockage or leak. An inspection followed by professional sewer and drain cleaning or pipe repair tackles the root of the issue so basement sewer gas smells are gone for good.

Hydro Jetting for Sewer & Drain Cleaning

For clogged sewer lines, hydro jetting is a quick, cost-effective sewer and drain cleaning solution for homeowners who want to avoid digging up their yard to remove debris. Hydro jetting equipment blasts away blockages in home sewer lines through a small access point; no messy digging required.

CME Sewer Repair specializes in no-dig sewer and drain cleaning and repair solutions, utilizing hydro jetting as a safe, fast, environmentally-friendly solution to tackle tricky tree roots or clogs. Powerful water streams remove debris and clean grease and scale buildup off of pipe walls, ensuring your pipes are clear from future blockages, as well. No chemicals, no digging and no more basement sewer smells for you!

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Sewer Pipe Repair

If a sewer camera inspection finds your sewer line has cracked or collapsed, have no fear. Professionals trained to use trenchless technology for sewer pipe repair can seal and restore broken pipes without digging up your lawn to reach the pipe.

Homeowners call on CME Sewer Repair for trenchless pipe relining, which is our preferred rehabilitation method to essentially create a new pipe within the old pipe. To achieve this, we create a durable pipe liner made of modern epoxy material and install it via a small access point. The epoxy hardens in place within the walls of your sewer line, providing a full structural repair for cracked, leaking pipes.

We also take a trenchless approach to collapsed sewer lines when pipe relining isn’t viable, instead performing our no-dig pipe bursting process, which involves inserting a new pipe to push out the old pipe through two relatively small access points. CME eliminates the source of the sewage smell in your house by strengthening and essentially replacing rotting pipes with long-lasting materials.

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Call CME Sewer Repair to Help Eliminate Basement Sewer Gas Smells

Basement sewer gas smells don’t have to spell doom and gloom for your home. CME Sewer Repair provides peace of mind for local homeowners in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and the Kansas City Valley through pipe inspections, sewer and drain cleaning and trenchless repairs to address persistent sewer odors and their underlying causes. If your nose smells something rotten in your plumbing, CME knows how to fix it without damaging your property or breaking the bank. Contact us to schedule a free sewer inspection today!

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