View Full Version : Need detective for bathroom odor

04-29-2006, 04:40 AM
Discovered this site and think it is great. Really like the low flow ratings. We have a problem in our guest bath with smell I am determined to finally fix. We have lived in this 20 yr old house for 6 yrs and sometimes more lately noticed a smell in the guest bath. Tried the following with no real change. I have decided to replace the toilet with a Toto drake as the next step, but not real sure this going to fix the problem. Any suggestions are appreciated.

1) cleaning bath with bleach does not help
2) Floor was carpeted and it was changed out to tile.
3) Plumber replaced wax ring and found no problems
4) Closed bathtub drain
5) Termite inspection hole to back of tub does not smell
6) No visible leaks around toilet
7) The toilet is on a cement slab foundation in Dallas Texas.

04-29-2006, 04:45 AM
Sorry, should have described the odor as a dirty bath room sewer type smell.

04-29-2006, 04:55 AM
I occasionally run into a similar problem. Of all places, the smell comes from the drain in the bathroom sink! I live on the top floor of a high rise and I guess sewer gas is somehow making its way up and out into my bathroom. It's not overbearing -- just unpleasant. I pour a cup of Clorox into the drain once a week in the a.m. as I'm leaving for work and it seems to keep it in check.

04-29-2006, 05:12 AM
I've had that happen, too. Sometimes the tailpiece of a bathroom drain gets gunked up. You can get a brush at the hardware store just for this purpose. Don't forget to cover the sink with a towel before you scrub the inside of the drain pipe, or you'll spatter gunk EVERYWHERE...

04-29-2006, 05:24 AM
If the sink is as old as the house SteveW and dc_home plumber are on the right track. Often times the clorox will work but the smell will come back at a later date.

I would replace the pop up.

The cost for a new chrome one at L***S is about $12.00. If the pop up is the problem you will know it when you take it apart. If the sink has an overflow B sure to clean the tube/hole out also.

Bob NH
04-29-2006, 05:24 AM
The odor somtimes comes from bacterial growing in the overflow of the sink, which is usually wet but doesn't get washed down. I solved it by putting some bleach down the overflow a couple of times. That enters the drain above the trap and the flow of water can force air up the overflow.

You can verify the location with the nose test.

04-29-2006, 05:30 AM
I had a similar problem in my NEW house. It turned out to be the overflow pipe of the sink as Bob said. It turned out the builder plugged the holes that connect the overflow pipe to the drain. So, when water got in the overflow, it had nowhere to go. It would fester. Subsequent splashes of water into the o.f. pipe would activate the bacteria odor (or at least that's my theory; I'm no pro).

I unplugged the overflow, poured bleach down it, and it worked. If you have a method for scouring the inside with a pipecleaner or something, I'd do that too.

Post the results

04-29-2006, 05:46 AM
Just did the nose test and the smell does not seem to come from the sink. Seems to be more toward the toilet or tub but it is a small bathroom and hard to tell. To try and rule out the sink I just closed the sink stopper and put a piece of tape over the overflow drain hole. I will check again later to see if this made any difference.

Thanks for the help keep the ideas coming

04-29-2006, 06:05 AM
I say bingo . I think Bob NH hit it right.

That's the first place I would look also....

04-29-2006, 09:17 AM
The space between the tank and bowl of the toilet is also a good collection area for odor causing substances. If this is the problem, when you replace the toilet, get one with a sanitary dam or, better yet, get a Toto Ultramax (one-piece).

04-29-2006, 05:22 PM
The first place I would look is where the air conditioner condensate drain, if you have AC, is terminated. A small room like that with no air return will accumulate odors if the AC is pulling them from the sewer system.

04-29-2006, 07:00 PM
Checked all the places suggested and have not found anything yet. Today I changed out the toilet for a Toto Drake. I will let things settle for a day or two and see what happens.
Thanks for all the suggestions. I will let you know what happens. If anyone has a new suggestions let me know.


04-30-2006, 04:18 AM
R U on septic or sewer?

04-30-2006, 04:26 AM
I am on city sewer.


Mike Swearingen
04-30-2006, 08:32 AM
It could be any of the above, OR it could be caused by a partial clog in the vent pipe. (An enzyme-based drain cleaner such as DrainCare works as well as bleach in sink and tub overflows, too.)
A clogged vent pipe will cause trap water to be siphoned out to create another "vent" when water is flushed or drained through the system. Trap water is what prevents sewer gas from entering the home.
Go up on the roof and check the main vent stack pipe. Clean any birdnests, leaves, debris, etc. out that you can reach by hand, and then flush the stack down with a water hose sprayer. If it is badly clogged, or the debris is too far down to reach to remove it from above, you may have to snake the vent stack with a plumber's snake from top to bottom, and then flush it down.
Good luck!

05-01-2006, 04:55 PM
Here is an update. The Drake toilet is absolutely great. No more having to flush twice. As for the odor it is better. I noticed when replacing the toilet, part of the wax ring was black. Did not appear to be leaking liquid but did not look like it was air tight either. The floor is not totally level and the flange does not really stick up any. I think the original wax ring was not thick enough. I replaced it with an extra thick, for below grade flange, type wax ring. Still not sure if it is perfectly sealed, as had to shim the toilet to get it not to rock.

What do plumbers used to shim toilets? I used a quarter.
What about the new wax rings that are not wax, are they better for unlevel floors?

Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions, they were a great help.


05-01-2006, 07:18 PM
The wax is not very elastic...so, the procedure is to set it down once, shim it, then take it off and replace with the wax ring and anchor it in place while trying to keep the shim in the right place. If the thing rocked when you installed it with the wax ring, you might be in the same situation...it might not leak water, but it could leak gasses. Unless a line backs up, a toilet will normally just let the water fall down the hole. If there is a backup or if the wax ring acts like a funnel to the outside, you may never know it doesn't have a great seal.

A quarter works fine! Whatever it takes that won't rust or crush.