If you have ever walked into your basement and you were confronted with the aroma of a sewer, panic probably sets in. How do you determine where the smell is coming from and what it is?
There are several common culprits to look for when this occurs.
The two most common areas of the sewer smell are the laundry room and the bathroom. Choose an area to inspect to start eliminating the reason for the smell in your home. Any floor drains that do not have water traps or a cleanout plug in them allow sewer gas to come up through the drain. Water evaporates from not using the drain, which is a common problem. The simple solution is to add water to replenish the trap and eliminate the smell in your basement. If there is no cleanout plug, add one and the sewer gas will not be able to enter your home any longer.
The toilet is also a common culprit. There is a trap underneath the toilet similar to the floor drain. If there is a toilet in your home that does not get regular use, simply flush the toilet to replenish the water in the trap. The wax ring that is underneath the base of the toilet can stop being effective over time, as well. A loose ring means that there is enough of a gap for the sewer gas to leak from under the toilet. If this occurs, it is time to replace the wax ring.
If you have exhausted these common areas and you did not find the leak, chances are that you will need to contact a plumber to determine if you have a serious problem, such as a cracked or broken sewer line. A plumber has the right training to locate the source for you and to tell you the options for fixing it.