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Thread: Toilet Smell Problems

  1. #1
    DIY Member trw888's Avatar
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    Default Toilet Smell Problems

    Iíve got a couple of questions that I know are just ripe (no pun intended) for jokes. Iíve made many myself. But Iím not sure where to start with these and getting a little desperate. Iíve gotten great advice before from this forum, so here it goes:

    Problem #1: Thereís a strong smell of urine coming from one of our toilets. Weíve clean it and the area around it many times with bleach and the smell persists. Itís definitely coming from the toilet itself and not anywhere around it. What is up with this?

    Problem #2: This may or may not be related, but the same toilet doesnít flush hmmmmÖerÖahhhÖsolids very well. It often (but not always) plugs up to vary degrees and often takes a couple of flushes and sometimes even a plunger to get it all down.
    Issues that may or may not be related: About a month ago, our main line backed up. A plumber cleared it, but it had no affect on either problem.

    A couple of years ago, we had to have the p-trap replaced in the shower drain in the same bathroom. Since then we get a sewer gas smell every couple of months or so that a dose of hot water and vinegar takes care of.

    Iím a fairly decent do-it-yourselfer, but a complete novice when it comes to plumbing. Any ideas would be much appreciated.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Plumbing Designer FloridaOrange's Avatar
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    My guesses:
    1. Something wrong with the wax seal.
    2. Something partially blocking the trap or the drain.
    3. Was it replaced with a trap? The trap could be broken losing the trap seal.
    Matt
    Semi-professional plumbing designer
    Enjoying life in SW Florida

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    DIY Member trw888's Avatar
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    Thanks for the quick reply. The wax ring was my uneducated guess as well, but I wanted other opinions before I dealt with it.

    As for your #3 response, you're referring to the shower drain right? It was replaced with another trap, yes. The house is on a concrete slap. So, the plumber had to jackhammer up the shower floor to get to the p-trap so our enthusiasm for dealing with the drain any further is exactly zero unless someone convinces me it's a serious issue.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Pull the toilet onto the front yard, and wash the whole thing down with a hose.
    Between the tank, and the bowl too.

    And then remember that it doesn't even flush solids.
    Put it in the back of your car and bring it to the dump.

    After that is done, pick up a good toilet.

    Install that one, and remember to use enough wax to seal the bowl,
    And then use Poly Seam Seal caulking around the bowl.

    Get a one-piece toilet this time, less places for the kids urine to hid.

    And if all of that doesn't work, consider that it may not even be the toilet.
    I tore up one bathroom, and in the walls, little critters had been peeing.
    The homeowner had scrubbed and scrubbed, but the urine was within the walls.
    Last edited by Terry; 01-21-2010 at 09:54 AM.

  5. #5
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Sometimes a urine smell can be caused by a young boy, elderly man, or just a man with poor aim missing the pot. I've even heard of dogs mistaking the toilet for a fire hydrant! About the shower drain smell. Do you use the shower frequently? If not, the trap could be drying out which would allow sewer gas to get through. If that is the problem, then just adding water occasionally will refill the trap. Next time you detect the odor, remove the grating over the drain and using a flashlight, look down the drain and see if you can see water. You should be able to see water. If the shower is used fairly often, then I'd wonder about a leak in the trap. Shouldn't be, but if the trap is drying out, it's either lack of use or a leak.

  6. #6
    DIY Member trw888's Avatar
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    New toilet was #2 on my uneducated list. I guess I'm glad to see I'm batting a thousand. I guess I'll start with ring since it's the easiest and cheapest and move down the list from there.

    You all are getting me worried about the p-trap though. The shower is used at least once every 1 to 2 days. If it turns out to be a leak, is it something I would need to get fixed? Like I said, it's a concrete slab which makes it a pretty big job.

    Thanks again.

  7. #7
    Plumbing Designer FloridaOrange's Avatar
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    Why did you have to get the p-trap replaced?
    Was the shower remodeled and the trap needed to be relocated?
    Matt
    Semi-professional plumbing designer
    Enjoying life in SW Florida

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    DIY Member trw888's Avatar
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    The drain had been draining really slowly for months and eventually backed up. A plumber came out to clear the line, but pulled dirt and mud. The p-trap had corroded away to basically nothing.

  9. #9
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    More of the drain line could be bad...hopefully, he checked that before just replacing the trap. Another part of the line may have collapsed.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  10. #10

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    A plumber gave me a really great product to use around the toilet, or for any odors. It is great when you got young kids just make sure they don't get into it of course.
    It is made by Husky, and is a Uric Acid Eradicator. It says it attacks the uric acid odors, and is an enzyme. I think you could buy this at a plumbing supply house or maybe, even HDepot or Lowes.
    The bottle # on it is, 401.

  11. #11
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I'm inclined to think you need a new plumber. If there was mud in the line, that would indicate you have a problem with the line. There isn't any other way mud and dirt could get in to it. I think a camera inspection is in order to ascertain the extent of the problem. I don't want to be Mr. Doom and Gloom here, but you may have more concrete to chip out. With luck, the break in the line will be close to the trap (probably is) and relatively easy to fix. Of course it's relatively easy when it is your problem and not mine. If it was mine, then it would be B***h of a job! You very well may want to consider a professional to tackle this.

  12. #12
    DIY Member trw888's Avatar
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    This is getting depressing. Where are all the jokes I was expecting?

    Seriously, lets say worse case and the line has collapsed farther down. Except for the occasional smell every couple of months, which goes away when we pour vinegar and water down the drain, is this anything I need to deal with? What may happen if I don't do anything?

  13. #13
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I would expect the drain to clog. Even if it didn't, do you want raw sewage under your house? As I stated earlier, you should get a camera inspection. Until you do that, all we can do is guess. Doctors use x-rays, cat scans, and mris to "look" inside you if your innards don't seem to be right. They may guess this or that, but to confirm their diagnosis, the want as much visual proof as they can get.

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Pull the toilet onto the front yard, and wash the whole thing down with a hose.
    Between the tank, and the bowl too.
    <snip>
    Get a one-piece toilet this time, less places for the kids urine to hid.
    Had this problem in the previous home...my youngest has enough hydraulic pressure to peel wallpaper, but didn't think aiming was important a few years ago. I used a bucket to and copious amounts of hot water and various aqueous solvents to clean every imagineable surface in that bathroom, yet it still stunk to high heaven. I finally got very meticulous flushing hotwater between the tank and bowl and on the crevices in the porcelain underneath and behind. That finally did the trick.

    I expect one-piece toilets to eventually replace the two-piecers, when they become more svelte and less expensive.

  15. #15
    DIY Member trw888's Avatar
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    You're right Gary. It's easy enough and won't hurt to send a camera down there. I'm going to have a plumber come out in a couple weeks for another issue; I'll have him take a look then.

    Thanks again for the feedback.

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