Septic odor, master bedroom, summertime
QUESTION: We moved into a three story house with a septic system and soon noticed that in the summer, the sewer gasses back up into the master bedroom when there is high water usage (showers, etc) and also the back deck smells like a sewage pond in the evening hours. In the winter time, we do not smell any of the gasses. Four pipes come straight out of the top of the roof directly over the master bedroom. We have tried specialized carbon filters on top of the pipes, but they just cause the gasses to back up worse than before. We have also tried removing the septic tank covers to see if venting the gasses helps, but this had no effect. I have called the septic people and they tell me they just install tanks. Plumbers tell me they don’t deal with issues such as those. Do you have an idea what is wrong and/or who to call? I hate living in a sewer..
Kelly Meredith , Placerville
ANSWER: “First, I would suggest calling and consulting with a plumber,” says Vince McDonald of McDonald Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning in Sacramento. “The smell is in the house so you may have an open drain or vent pipe. A properly designed and installed plumbing system will prevent the entry of sewer gas from entering the building.”
“The plumber will first visually check the plumbing system for failures or faulty installation,” he says. “In particular, they need to confirm that all plumbing fixtures are properly vented and provided with a trap. When you look under your sink you will find a trap in the drainage pipe before it enters the wall. All plumbing fixtures require a trap to keep the sewer gases from entering the house. The function of the vent is to keep the water in the traps from siphoning out.”
“If the plumber is unable to find the cause to your problem on the initial call, I suggest you have them or another professional smoke test the plumbing drain and vent system, McDonald says. Locating sewer gas smells in a home or larger building can be a challenge and this is one of the new technologies recently developed that allows us to test the building and underground plumbing drainage and vent systems for failures and leaks without expensive, messy excavation or demolition. With minimal disruption, the building system can be tested with non-toxic smoke, similar to what is used in theatrical productions. The smoke takes out the guesswork as it passes through the wall and cracks, indicating the location of the failure.”