A sewer smell in your home can be very disturbing, especially if you don’t know its source. Knowing where the sewer smell comes from and what you can do to eliminate the smell can help you take care of your home.

Here’s what you need to know about why your home smells like sewer gas and what you can do about it.

Is It Possible for Sewer Gas to Leak Into Your Home?

Your home is directly connected to the sewer via the drains in your home. This makes it possible for sewer gas to escape into your home via the drain pipes.

So Why Doesn’t Every Home Smell Like Sewer Gas All The Time?

Standard home drains have a distinctive U shape called a P-trap. The curve of the P-trap is designed to hold water. The water in the P-trap is replenished every time the drain is used. The water in the P-trap forms a waterproof seal that prevents sewer gas from escaping the sewer and leaking into the home.

What Causes a Home To Suddenly Smell Like a Sewer?

Even though there is a water barrier in your drain’s P-trap, that water can evaporate if the drain isn’t used frequently enough. If the water evaporates, sewer gas may flow into the home and cause certain parts of the house to smell like a sewer.

Is Sewer Gas Bad for You?

Sewer gas is made up of a variety of gases, most of them odorless. The gas that people smell when they smell sewer gas is called hydrogen sulfide. This gas is toxic at high concentrations, but not at the levels that are likely to be found in a home.

Some people will get headaches or feel nauseous from smelling sewer gas. The best way to prevent a problem is to open the windows and doors of the home to circulate fresh air.

What Should You Do If You Can Smell Sewer Gas In Your Home?

If your home smells like sewer gas, the first thing you should do is open the windows and doors to let out the smell. Once this is done, the water in the P trap can be refreshed by pouring water into the drain. Flush every toilet, run water in every sink, and turn on every bathtub or shower in the house. This will refresh the water in each P-trap in every drain.

If your home has a basement, pour water into the floor drains. These drains can also become dry with time.

What Can You Do to Prevent This From Happening in the Future?

Using drains is what prevents water from evaporating from P-traps. If you have a drain in your home that is not used frequently, pour water into the drain periodically to replenish the supply.

If you plan to leave your home for an extended period of time (several months) and will not be around to pour water into each drain, purchase a cap for each drain your home. A drain cap can prevent the water in the P-trap from evaporating.

Of course, you can’t cap your toilet drains. To prevent water from evaporating from your toilets, cover the seat in plastic wrap. Put a sign on the plastic wrap to remind the person who uses the toilet next that the plastic wrap must be removed.

Contact a Plumber If Pouring Water Into the Drains Doesn’t Help

If your home smells like sewer gas and you’ve been unable to locate the source of the problem, contact a plumber in your area for help.

If you live in Gainesville, GA, and have more questions about sewer gas smells in your home, contact your plumber at Billy Bell Plumbing for more information.