Sewer gas mystery

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by lyn12, Nov 21, 2015.

  1. JerryR

    JerryR Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Location:
    Florida
    I had similar issue with the house we now live in that we bought about 3 years ago. I got a call from the tile guys who were installing 2000 sq ft of travertine. At that time we had just had the kitchen ripped out waiting for tile work to be completed before installing new kitchen. They said they smelled gas. My wife said it smelled like sewer gas. It was intermittent and I was panicked thinking explosion.

    I had 2 plumbers come out and they couldn't find anything of significance. One found a clean out behind the drywall with a loose cap. He extended the pipe through the drywall and installed a new cap. I was hoping that was it but the next day the tile guys complained again.

    The only gas going into the house was propane for gas fireplace. I turned off the propane at the outside tank and that didn't resolve the smell.

    It drove me crazy.

    In the interim, I had electrician come out to run wire for new stove. After he cut open the drywall he said "oh I smell insecticide behind the drywall." It seems the the house had tubes running in the walls so that insecticide could be pumped from outside into interior walls. The smell was residual insecticide trapped in the walls after 18 years of being treated. When kitchen was gutted there were some drywall removed that exposed interior wall to open air.

    Also when the tile guys were cutting door jambs they were cutting into insecticide soaked wood causing the smell to get worse.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2016
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  2. lyn12

    lyn12 Member

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    Nov 21, 2015
    Location:
    Springfield, Illinois
     
  3. lyn12

    lyn12 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Location:
    Springfield, Illinois
    That is quite a story! Treatment for termites maybe and it still smelled 18 years later. Wow that is.scary to have that in your house emitting toxic chemicals. Glad you found the source!
     
  4. lyn12

    lyn12 Member

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    Nov 21, 2015
    Location:
    Springfield, Illinois
     
  5. lyn12

    lyn12 Member

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    Nov 21, 2015
    Location:
    Springfield, Illinois
    I did something like that yesterday but just by closing doors. It's horrible in certain areas. Im having the attic checked tomorrow by insulation guy and remodeler although 2 people checked already. It's by the back door and deck and can smell it outdoors and indoors. So strange. I hope they recognize the smell.
     
  6. jadziedzic

    jadziedzic Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2006
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    During last year's winter I noticed what seemed to be a natural gas odor around the front door (inside and outside). Since we had so much snow piled up by the house I thought perhaps seepage from the gas meter vent/regulator was collecting under the snow, and making its way to the front door area. The gas company came out with their meters, and the first thing the service man said was "That's not gas, that's cat urine." Turned out the neighbor's cat was marking our front step (I resisted the temptation to mark the cat).

    I picked up some urine odor destroyer at the local pet store, cleaned the step thoroughly, then sprayed a "natural" cat repellent; odor was gone and did not return. The short version is "Perhaps you have wild animals marking the foundation area near where the smell is the worst."
     
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  7. Smooky

    Smooky In the Trades

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Location:
    North Carolina
  8. lyn12

    lyn12 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Location:
    Springfield, Illinois
    The insulation is cellulose and fiberglass bats. Its getting sucked out Wednesday. I think something was wrong with the bathroom fan vent piping. Anyway will post back soon and let you know if that is the problem or not. Thinking about getting an ozone machine to put up in the attic to get rid of odors if that is the case.
     
  9. lyn12

    lyn12 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Location:
    Springfield, Illinois
    That is very interesting about the spray foam insulation! I had always heard it was so great and chemical free. I wont use that ever!
     
  10. lyn12

    lyn12 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Location:
    Springfield, Illinois
    The attic was full of mold and it smelled horrible! I had it tested and was a bad type of mold just behind stachybotyrus. All caused by the bathroom fan venting into the attic. Today was last day of ripping out ceilings I hope. The sewer pipes in the basement were rotted out all along the bottom leaking sewer gas into the air. They have been replaced. I can be in the house without it making me sick now.
     
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I am glad you have the problem identified and the mold removed. Its too bad that the professionals you brought continued to think it was a plumbing leak of some sort. But I can see if a plumber is called to fix a leaking sewer system, he will presume that somebody already identified that the problem was the sewer system.

    It would have been nice if earlier somebody had thought outside of the box. Your pressure tests should have vindicated the sewer system I think.

    Thanks for getting back to us with the actual cause.

    While they are extending the bathroom vent fan out of the roof, it would be good if they could add some more roof vents. A roofer might be the right person for adding more roof vents. Also you should have eaves vents and they should be clear.
     
  12. Smooky

    Smooky In the Trades

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Location:
    North Carolina
    When and how did you discover the pipes in the basement were rotted out? When were they replaced?
     
  13. lyn12

    lyn12 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Location:
    Springfield, Illinois
    Last fall camera checked. Half replaced about nov. Other half about 2 months ago.
     
  14. lyn12

    lyn12 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Location:
    Springfield, Illinois
     
  15. lyn12

    lyn12 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Location:
    Springfield, Illinois
    It was a double/triple whammy problem. There was actual leaking plumbing pipes. Then sewer pipes all bad under concrete. Then when that all repaired the house still reeked something horrible. Ot never smelled like mold. There was nothing left but the attic. Had to tear out 2 bathroom ceilings and entire stairwell last week. The mold spores are everywhere bothering my lungs. Hard to get it under control. I had the attic checked by insultation people last summer. They said no problem. I called another company and said remove it. It was awful stuff. The house is getting better but a long way to rebuild. Thanks for your help and suggestions.
     
  16. Master Plumber Mark

    Master Plumber Mark Sensitivity trainer and plumber of mens souls

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Occupation:
    Sensitivity trainer.. and plumber of mens souls
    Location:
    indianapolis indiana - land of the free, home of
    This is a very old dead thread.... last week we had a customer that could smell sewer
    gass and we found out that the copper arm going to her tub drain in the slab home had
    rotted away and was releasing gas into the house....

    we had to pull her vanity and break up the concrete floor by the tub to gain access to the
    drain and cut out the old cast iron drain and re-build the trap in PVC

    here are some pretty pictures ....notice that the copper trap and copper arm had totally rotted away.....pouring water and sewer gas into the slab box under the tub [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/eH7zeUJZSSQnw3Ch8

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/9Xvbqde1scmJAgH19

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/epPCF7EaQSXqUcxRA






     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
  17. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Hey Mark, those pictures are under your password somewhere. We can't see them.
     
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