Smelling a sewer gas smell in your home can be disturbing, but it may not be a sign of a sewer backup. In fact, there’s a good chance that a sewer gas smell in your home will have a simple solution. 

If your home smells like sewer gas, does that mean you have a sewer backup?

Not necessarily. If you look under your kitchen sink, you’ll likely see an S-shaped curve in the pipes connected to the drain. This curve is called a P-trap. The P-trap contains water that is refreshed every time you drain water out of the sink. The water in the P-trap creates a seal between the sewer and the rest of your home, thus preventing sewer gas from rising into your kitchen.

If you were to go a long time without using your kitchen sink, the water in the P-trap would evaporate and you would smell sewer gas. Most people use their kitchens frequently enough to keep refreshing the water in the sink’s P-trap. However, if you’re smelling sewer gas in your house, this could be happening elsewhere in your home in a drain that isn’t getting used very frequently.

What can you do to get rid of the sewer gas smell?

Start by pouring water down all your home’s drains, including seldom used drains in the basement floor and drains in your basement bathroom (if you have one). Check the toilets, as well. If there’s a toilet in a spare bedroom that rarely gets used, try flushing the toilet one or twice to move water through the fixture and its pipes. Once this is done, open all your windows and run fans to clear the air.

If doing this doesn’t get rid of the sewer gas smell, does that mean that you have a sewer backup?

It’s possible. There are several warning signs of a sewer backup that you should be aware of:

  • Slow drains throughout the house.
  • Strange gurgling noises in the drains.
  • Smell of raw sewage in your home’s drains.
  • Water flushed down one drain appears in another fixture (example: water flushed down the toilet shows up in the bathtub).
  • Multiple toilets in your home always seem to be clogged.

If you’re struggling with one or more of the above problems, talk to a reputable plumber like First Class Plumbing of Florida Inc. He or she can help you determine whether or not your home’s sewers are clogged.