Septic Odor


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Old 11-13-06, 08:04 AM
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Unhappy Septic Odor

My problem started about 3 years ago, this will be the third winter since anyhow. During the colder time of year here in Northern Michigan we have a foul septic odor that comes in the house. Seems to be coming from our "Maintenance Closet" The furnace, water pump, washing machine are in this closet. The house sits on a cement slab. anyhow, I had a new septic system 6 years ago, new washer drain 3 years ago, and at that time a 90% efficency furnace was installed with a new drain and trap tied into the house vent pipe. I had thought it was the new washer drain that a company came and installed, at the time they installed new pvc plumbing under the house, the only thing that I know that was left cast was the kitchen sink drain at the opposite end of the house and the toilet drain at the same end as this closet which leads out to the septic system. Back to what I thought was the problem (The washer drain) I installed a trap inside the house and that didn't help, I then thought it was the trap for the furnace drain and that is staying full of water so don't believe that to be at fault. Someone suggested the vent pipe be replaced with a larger diamater, it is 2" but another pro doesn't think that will help. I just can't seem to win at this odor, again it is only during the winter months.
 
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Old 11-13-06, 08:29 AM
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Wink

with a new drain and trap tied into the house vent pipe.
Out of the box here. We do run into this some.
first that trap in the furnace or other can dry out fast with the furnace on.
Now you said drain tied into the sewer line . Any code I know of calls for the AC drain to be just fixed are attached to a standing drain pipe with a trap. That would be like your washer drain line is set up. Or like a floor drain with a trap in it. Have had where the air from the AC drain would dry it out over a short time. If you have any drains in this room dump a big glass of water in them every 2 weeeks or so .

ED
 
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Old 11-13-06, 09:49 AM
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Thanks for replying Ed, yes water is staying in these two traps, what I mean is the washer is used every other day at least and the furnace is draining about a gallon of water every two days, I found this out by blocking that trap off for a week last winter and it still didn't cure our problem.
 
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Old 11-13-06, 12:41 PM
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Does your new furnace use outside air or inside air for combustion? Also is the cold air return system hooked up right or does the furnace draw air from the closet space to heat the house?

Depending on how big the closet is and how well it is sealed the furnace might be drawing enough air to create a negative pressure situation in the closet. At that point it would be drawing air from anywhere it could get it including past the trap in the washer’s drain pipe and any floor drains too.

Maybe try leaving the door to the closet cracked open and see if the smell goes away.
 
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Old 11-13-06, 03:45 PM
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The furnace uses inside air for combustion. Not sure about the cold air return system though. Also curious on what the furnace would have to do with the sewer odor? but I suppose if there was an explanation I could always explore the option. I mentioned the furnace because of the drain, it is only a small 1/2" pvc tube running into a drain trap.

The closet is 4 X 9 and it isn't sealed very good at all, the doors on it are just sliding doors with gaps all around. I don't have "floor drains" either.

Thank you, if you have any suggestions I will certainly explore them.
 
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Old 11-14-06, 03:45 AM
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Septic Odor

We have a similiar situation, slab, etc. We get the same odor when running the washer and the woodstove. I think it has something to do with the draw from the stove. We gutted our bathroom (next to the laundry room) and we thought we solved the problem when we found out that the pipe from toilet was not glued properly. But, again this winter the smell has returned only when washing. I found if I only do one load we don't get the smell - it's two or more that does us in!!! I've tried running water in all the traps and even closing them. I'm pretty sure the odor is coming up the washer drain pipe. We have given up! I just do one load each morning before we fire up the stove. I wish someone could figure this one out for us.
 
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Old 11-14-06, 04:03 AM
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Yes are odor doesn't run us out of the house with one load but after that it sure does. But why does that cause the odor for us? I don't understand the "Draw" very well either, any way to modify/fix/redo the draw?? Is there something that would help by adding it to the septic system?
 
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Old 11-14-06, 05:53 AM
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Septic Odor

We have one more thing we are going to try. We noticed that the vent pipe on the roof is a lot lower than the stove pipe. Someone suggested that we extend the vent pipe and put a "cap" on it. We also notice that the smell gets stronger when it's raining. So, we thought maybe it has to do with the rain filling the vent pipe. Our house is about 30 years old and I'm sure there is a lot of gunk in that vent pipe. I saw an episode on This Old House where they cleaned the vent pipe because the toilet wasn't flushing well (we don't have that problem) but they said it should be cleaned periodically and "capped". If the weather holds, we'll try it this weekend. We'll see what happens then.....
 

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Old 11-14-06, 08:24 AM
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I'll have to check mine out then, that would seem like an easy fix or so I think it would. Let me know how it does for you.
 
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Old 11-14-06, 01:47 PM
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one thing I can say for sure. Every septic tank stinks....some worse than others. Seems to me one notices the odor mostly on still days of high humidity, especially when you have riled that thing up by dumping a bunch of water in you new tank. So, here is this low vent pipe on this roof venting and emitting gas that's heavier than air. The whole darn thing defies every law of physics known to man. Along comes a wind and dumps that stacked air on the leeward side of a house. Down it comes until Phhhhhhheeeee....uuuuuuuuu.

Some say one should check the septic tank inlet baffle to make sure it has an elbow on it and the thing extends down below scum level of the tank. They also think when large amounts of water are dumped into the tank, it tends not to rile up the air so much as a straight pipe splashing a load of water from 6-8" above scum level.

I don't really think there is alot that can be done about it.

bs5
 
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Old 11-14-06, 04:33 PM
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Wink

It helps to have a inline trap In the line from the home to the septic tank
 
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Old 11-15-06, 08:42 AM
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The odor is there during cold weather after the first load of wash even if the furnace isn't running.
 
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Old 11-15-06, 10:36 AM
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I wonder do you smell the odor outside the house at all???
It would seem that theory about the Roof vent Pipe causing the problem would make sense, because when it's cold the cold air would sink and bring the smell down with it? So maybe its a air leak from the outside into the house????
 
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Old 11-15-06, 01:49 PM
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No we never smell it outside. Only inside during the colder time of year.
 
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Old 11-17-07, 12:57 PM
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Ed Imeduc, question for you

I know this thread is old, but it seems to be the newest one, so I'll chime in here...

Ed, you mentioned that it helps when you have a trap between house and the septic tank. Is this allowed by typical codes (local here is 2003 Uniform Plumbing Code) and/or common practice?

House is just couple years old. First problem was sewage smell from the master bath. Traced it to vent pipe fittings in the wall that had not been glued and had come apart!!! Got that fixed.

Next came sewage odors on the outside of house that waft down occasionally. I've researched this problem extensively and mostly what I hear is: that's just the way it is, but I'm not happy with that!!!

Saw a diagram somewhere that described air convection issues on pitched roof homes when the stacks are too low: wind blows gases, hit pitched roof, swirl around in a downdraft. Raised the stacks to near the peak, and still have problems.

I read somewhere that there are filters you can put on stack, from odorhog.com. Anyone had success with these?

On another thread, someone noted that these sewer gases are heavier than air and it will naturally come down, BUT, I saw two hopeful ideas:

#1: Ed Imeduc's mention of a trap between house and septic tank.

#2: Someone in another thread mentioned that the septic inlet should have an elbow and the pipe should extend down below the surface scum.

Will probably try #2 first and then, if code allows, try #3. Nothing more embarrassing than having company over for a BBQ and having this foul smell waft down!
 
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Old 11-17-07, 10:36 PM
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As a last resort you could try pouring a glass of two buck chuck (cheap red wine here in California) down the drain--worked great in our rv...if that doesn't work ya still have the rest of the bottle to help forget about it...anyway, I think the yeast in red wine helps eat up the stuff making the bad odor.
 
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Old 11-18-07, 05:54 AM
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The down spout inside the septic tank below the scum line has taken care of our smelly problem. Had it taken care of for about a year now.
 
 

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