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Thread: Please help/Bad odour in house

  1. #1

    Default Please help/Bad odour in house

    Hi

    I noticed a query submitted by "Laurie" back in 2004 on a smell in the bathrooms and it sounds nearly exactly like a problem i am experiencing in my home. The thread didn't mention if the problem was ever resolved and if so, I would be glad to know what the solution was as I am climbing the walls trying to discover what's causing the odour.

    I thought I'd solved it when I discovered that the septic tank system in my old but completely renovated cottage was inadequate and had the soakaway running uphill. The entire system was replaced with a new biotank system and moved to a more suitable location, but the odour came back within a couple of days. Every single pipe and drain around and in the house is brand new, the water is clear, there are no blockages, no smells outside the house and the smell seems to come and go with no rhyme or reason. Nor does it seem to be linked to the lights. originally it was only in the upstairs bathroom but now my tenant tells me she can smell it in the kitchen sink and in the downstairs bathroom sink. When I lived in the house myself, there was never a smell coming from the sinks, only in the upstairs bathroom and occasionally the downstairs hall (where there are no drains).

    I've checked for dead rats in the roof space and there have been a couple of bags of poison up there from when I first moved in but they are not even slightly nibbled.

    The house is on its own land out in the countryside but the neighbours soakaway runs into a ditch about five or six hundred yards up the road from my house and the water runs into a drain just on the other side of the hedge outside my front door, into a pipe which runs under the road and into a ditch on the other side. I wondered if perhaps that might have something to with the problem as my builder said he noticed a bad smell coming from their ditch on a couple of occasions.

    One plumber came to look and said the problem might be that there were no gullies but my builder assures me that gullies were put in with the new system. the plumber also suggested the new system should have had a valve put in, to stop water running back towards the house. But my builder says only town systems need valves and there is no way sewage is running back towards the house. he even lifted the manholes to check and they are all dry with not a hint of a smell. That new system was only installed about three weeks ago.

    Really hope to hear from someone

    Juliet
    Last edited by julietturner; 05-21-2007 at 05:48 AM.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    I'm not sure where you live, but runoff from a septic system would not be an acceptable situation and would present a health risk. I'd have a talk with the county health inspector and ask about your neighbor's system. It sounds like it is not only polluting his lot, but yours and what is probably a public right-of-way.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3

    Default

    thanks. I live in the Rep of Ireland and I think it's a soakaway system where the water is run through filters in the system and emerges into the ground completely clean and then runs into the drain under the road. If their system isn't working properly, I wonder why I myself have never smelled a bad odour outside the property near my door. The smell is only on the inside. But I'll check that with the council. The other thing I wondered after reading some of the other entries here, would the fact that I am on a private well system have any bearing on this? The water itself doesn't smell and I had a new purification system installed, again just last year when I had the renovation work done.

    Juliet

  4. #4
    Homeowner geniescience's Avatar
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    Default overflow in bath

    julie, you have said that ALL pipes are brand new. Wow! Let me repeat: all new water supply pipes, and all new drain pipes.

    Some people have noticed foul smells coming from the overflow hole of their bathroom sinks. They complain very loudly; it may sound like a small source of bad smells, but it is significant.

    The overflow is a catchbasin under the sink that is molded to look like the sink itself when you inspect if from underneath. When water gets in, it drains out through holes in the side of the drain pipe an inch below the sink drain stopper. There could be organic matter rotting there; nobody will ever know how it got there, but it could be the cause of the smell. To identify this source, tape shut both the overflow hole and the drain when the smell occurs, to see if the odour disappears.

    david

  5. #5
    Commercial Plumber markts30's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geniescience
    Some people have noticed foul smells coming from the overflow hole of their bathroom sinks. They complain very loudly; it may sound like a small source of bad smells, but it is significant.
    To get rid of this odour, pour some beleach into the overflow and let it sit overnight...
    Repeat as required...
    Works most of the time for foul smelling lav's

  6. #6

    Default

    Thanks for that. Will try although as the smell is coming from both the downstairs bathroom plughole and the kitchen plughole and is strongest in the upstairs bathroom is seems strange that all overflows are smelling at same time. Do I just pour the bleach down the sink or do I need to unscrew and pour directly into the overflow?

    Can anyone tell me if the issue of odours coming from lights only applies to old light fixtures or if this can happen with brand new light fixtures as well?

  7. #7
    Homeowner geniescience's Avatar
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    i think you ought not to take literally whatever advice you receive here. Three sources of smells is not the same thing as only one. You have a serious problem that no-one can diagnose over the internet. Perhaps a rotten rat somewhere; smells coming through "lights" means it is coming through any opening in the walls. Do you have stud-built walls? If so, the smell won't be stronger when you place your nose near a drain. Smells can be deceptive, so if you are not sure, the answer may be that no smell is coming up from the drain hole.

    1. No internet person knows how your building was built, and not even what your sinks look like. Unless you are willing to post a lot of pictures and answer a lot of questions regarding your building and your plumbing, and then endure a lot of frustration as people work out whether or not you have the same terminology for every little thing, you won't get much more insight -- that is my prediction.

    2. smells are deceptive. It is highly unlikely that the same smell comes from your plumbing and from your lights. You have said smells come out of the drain holes, and also from lights. This second source means places where the finished surface has been cut for fixtures.

    3. a fresh nose, in the first 10 to 20 seconds, is best. After that a body gets more and more used to whatever is there, although one retains an ability to spot the foulest.


    In general, to diagnose anything, you isolate it and control it. In your case you would check the toilet seal (more about that later) and you would tape shut the overflows to see whether that stops the smells from occuring. You would close all doors, so that smells remain more concentrated in those places that doors block air flow into and out of. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to identify the source. That is mission impossible, unless you are methodical. Don't just pour bleach into drains with no methodology behind the action. You are trying to locate, isolate, figure out where it is coming from. By the way, if there is organic matter in the space that an overflow provides to a bathroom sink, bleach will not necessarily rid you of that organic matter. Someone perhaps a child may have pushed some solid matter into the hole. A piece of a banana peel or apple core. Bleach may not be a solution.

    Find the source before finding the solution. If you have already described everything you think people need to know, somewhere above, and if you feel people haven't read it or paid it enough attention, repeat the facts briefly.


    Don't just pour bleach down the drain. Read about the overflow holes; it is not the main drain. If you don't know how to pour bleach into an overflow hole, don't even try. It is only one idea among many; it is probably not a fix, since you have smells coming from everywhere, with no source. If the smell were to come from plumbing, you are right in saying that it would most likely appear to be isolated to one or the other fixture, assuming doors are closed and fresh noses are put to work. By the way, a toilet that appears well seated can also leak sewer gases; search on "wax ring" and "rocking toilet" Now you have another idea. This is not a solution, it is an idea of what to sudy, isolate, control. Smells can be hard to locate, as gases can sometimes move quickly and thus prevent you from noticing their source.

    david
    Last edited by geniescience; 05-22-2007 at 06:34 AM.

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