Been fighting a sewer odor...

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  #1  
Old 03-02-05, 06:28 AM
Robert_W
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Been fighting a sewer odor...

Okay, here's what's happening. I have a 25 year old bi-level or raised ranch. The entryway of the house is ground level, and you either go up half a flight of stairs or down half a flight to access the rest of the house. Both levels are finished living spaces. I believe the bathroom in the lower level was added to the house after it was built, and is served by a sump and pump (I'm on a septic field). This bathroom is on the back wall of the house, and the sump is on the front wall. The washer is located in the same room as the sump, and is served by a laundry tray and shell pump. For the last 6 months I have experienced an odor whenever I use the downstairs bathroom. It is diffuse by the time it can be detected, so I have been unable to pinpoint the source. I initially called a plumber in who said the traps had dried out. He filled the traps and the problem seemed fixed for a few days. I then ran water on a regular basis, but the odor soon returned.
The next action I took was to rent a snake and snake the stacks from the roof, which, again, seemed to take care of the problem for a few days, but then the odor returned. I then installed an AAV valve under the vanity in the bathroom, but it didn't do anything to alleviate the odor. I'm at my wit's end, and this weekend I plan to replace the vent pipe in hopes that it may be cracked. I don't understand why the problem would go away for a couple of days whenever the system was altered though, if the problem is a cracked vent tube. The upstairs drains don't produce an odor, so I'm hopeful the field isn't the problem. Does anybody have any ideas? Am I overlooking something? Even a word of encouragement would be appreciated. Thanks
 
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Old 03-02-05, 06:55 AM
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Robert_W, Welcome to the DIY Forums.
What traps did the Plumber fill? If it was sink or tub traps, then the problem is a clogged vent line. The vent lines provide needed air for proper drainage to occur. If no air is available then when a fixture is used, the system pulls air from the closest source which is traps on other fixtures. This breaks the water seal and sewer gases are allowed to enter the house.
Another problem could be the wax seal on the toilet. If it is damaged or deteriorated it allows sewer gases in also. The wax seal is the only thing stopping gases from entering between the toilet bowl and the drainline to the Septic. Good luck and reply back with any further questions or results.
 
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Old 03-02-05, 07:10 AM
Robert_W
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Originally Posted by majakdragon
Robert_W, Welcome to the DIY Forums.
What traps did the Plumber fill? If it was sink or tub traps, then the problem is a clogged vent line. The vent lines provide needed air for proper drainage to occur. If no air is available then when a fixture is used, the system pulls air from the closest source which is traps on other fixtures. This breaks the water seal and sewer gases are allowed to enter the house.
Another problem could be the wax seal on the toilet. If it is damaged or deteriorated it allows sewer gases in also. The wax seal is the only thing stopping gases from entering between the toilet bowl and the drainline to the Septic. Good luck and reply back with any further questions or results.
The plumber filled the sink and tub traps, which seemed to take care of the problem for a couple of days. After that, even though there was water in the traps, the odor returned. What doesn't make sense to me though, is if the problem was a dry trap, wouldn't it be fairly easy to localize the source of the odor to the drain? The odor in my house is diffused throughout the lower level by the time it is detectable. Another thing that has me puzzled is the short period of time the problem seemed "fixed" after filling the traps and again after snaking the stacks. The vent line I will replace this weekend comes out of the lid of the sump, goes to the ceiling, over a few feet, then up into the wall upstairs. Since I'm fairly sure this lav was added after construction of the home, I'm pretty sure nothing else ties into this stack (I hope!). This thing sure has me stumped
 
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Old 03-03-05, 12:12 PM
Robert_W
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Update time. I was looking the vent stack over last night in anticipation of replacing the entire thing, when my eyes happened on the floor drain. "Where the heck does that thing go? I don't have a groundwater sump pump... Hmmm, I wonder..." That drain hasn't been used for better than a year, AC condensate used to drain to it, but hasn't since the new furnace w/resevoir and pump for condensate was installed. Filled the trap and flushed toilet/ran sink til the ejector pump kicked on. No odor. I don't want to get my hopes up too high just yet, because on a couple of other occasions when I messed with the system the odor temporarily ceased. Here's my question though; wouldn't a floor drain plumbed into the waste tank be against code?
 
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Old 03-03-05, 12:19 PM
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As long as the drain has a trap, it can be discharged into a waste tank. Anytime a member says they have a sewer smell, I always tell them to check for drains that don't get used all the time. When traps don't get used, they dry out and allow sewer gas to enter the house. Your Plumber did the same as I would have done....filled the traps. Only difference is that I would have explained to you WHY I was doing it and what to watch for. Hope this solves your problem. Please reply back and let us all know. Good luck.
 
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Old 03-03-05, 01:54 PM
Robert_W
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So far so good, this trap seems to have been the problem. The plumber overlooked this one when he was out, and just filled the ones in the lav.
 
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Old 03-03-05, 02:12 PM
Robert_W
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The more I think about it the more it makes sense. This trap is in the mech. room, along with the sewage pit, water heater, furnace, etc. One of the things that puzzled me was the inability to pinpoint the source of the odor. The new furnace has a constant fan setting, which goes a long way in evening out the temperature differential upstairs and down, making it much more comfortable downstairs. This fan is always running, drawing air through the cold air returns, which downstairs are located just above ground level, and circulating it through the house via the hot air ducts. The shortest run is to a downstairs bedroom in the back of the house, which was where we first notice the odor. It all makes sense now, I only hope it really is the problem! Thanks for the help.
 
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Old 04-01-05, 07:25 AM
Robert_W
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Please help me!!!

Well, the odor is back. After the return of the smell, I installed an AAV in the vent line of the ejector pit, and the odor went away again for a couple of days, but it's back. I guess I'll snake the portion of the vent stack from the valve to the pit, then re-install the valve, and cap off the vent line to the roof. I'm at wit's end here... ANY SUGGESTIONS? All traps are wet.
 
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Old 04-04-05, 02:13 PM
Robert_W
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Well, now that I have the AAV installed, anyone see anything wrong with capping the line off at the valve working on the theory that the vent line may be cracked/broken somewhere further up?
 
  #10  
Old 04-06-05, 06:49 AM
Robert_W
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I capped the vent stack after the studer valve, and the end at the valve where I cut the line. I'm still getting an odor whenever the pump runs, but can't pinpoint the source other than to say it positively isn't coming from from the studer valve. Can sewer gas possibly be emenating from a loose or cracked joint in the main line? If this is the case, why do I experience no odor when using the facilities upstairs? Someone please offer some possible explanations... the house is on the market and I have to investigate all possibilities, I just can't think of any...
 
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Old 04-08-05, 11:43 AM
Robert_W
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Anyone? Buehler...Buehler...Buehler?
 
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Old 04-12-05, 08:35 AM
Robert_W
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Called out a good plumber, only works by word of mouth, and after some investigation he solved the problem.
 
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