5 Things to Do When Your Home Smells Like Sewage

If you can’t seem to escape a foul sewage-like smell in your home, you’ve come to the right place. Rather than attempting to mask the smell with candles and air fresheners, you can use our tips to defeat strong plumbing odors at their source. Here are five things you need to do when your home smells like sewage.

1.      Look for common causes of sewer gas smell in the bathroom

Before you can eliminate the source of sewer gas odors, you have to narrow down where exactly it’s coming from. The bathroom is one of the most common places where sewer gas smell originates. Check the following plumbing fixtures and see if they’re to blame for the smell.

Sink overflow

The sink overflow is the often-overlooked hole located across from or underneath the faucet. It’s prone to accumulating bacteria and soap scum, producing foul odors. To clean your sink overflow, you can use a small bottle brush to clean out the hole and wipe away any buildup. Or you can mix a solution of half chlorine bleach and half water to clear out any grime with ease.

Toilet base and wax ring

A wax ring helps seal the drain underneath the toilet and prevent water seepage. If the wax seal is damaged, sewer gasses can seep through and produce bad odors. You can either replace the wax ring yourself or contact a plumber to do it for you.

If the wax ring isn’t the problem, make sure the toilet is fully caulked to the floor. Cracks in the caulk can allow sewer smells to enter the room. If you need to re-caulk the toilet, the process is quite simple.

  1. Remove any old caulk from around the toilet base. You can use either a utility knife or razor knife if you don’t already have a caulk removal tool.
  2. Clear away any debris using a general bathroom cleaner and a clean cloth.
  3. Apply masking tape to the floor around the toilet. This will help you get a straighter, smoother seal, while also preventing any caulk from sticking to your floors.
  4. Keeping the caulk gun or caulk squeeze tube at a 45-degree angle, place the caulk along the space between the toilet and the floor.
  5. Use your finger or a caulk finishing tool to scoop off excess caulk and deepen the seal.
  6. Peel off the masking tape you used in step 3.

Bacterial growth in drains

Dark and damp drains are the perfect environment for smelly bacteria to thrive. By regularly cleaning your drains, you can help curb odors before they become severe.

At home remedies

Rather than using a liquid drain cleaner, which is more likely to hurt your drains than help them, we recommend that you use an enzyme-based cleaner. Instead of caustic chemicals, enzyme-based cleaners use good bacteria cultures and concentrated enzymes that naturally eat away at organic matter.

You can also utilize the tried-and-true combo of baking soda and vinegar to clear your drains naturally. Simply add one cup of baking soda to the slow drain. Wait a few minutes before adding two cups of vinegar. Listen for bubbling and sizzling noises to indicate that the mixture is working. Wait another couple of minutes before running water down the drain. If you still notice a smell, repeat the steps again.

Professional solutions

At Chas Roberts, we utilize several drain cleaning methods to address odors and problems big and small.

Bio-clean: Bio-clean uses living bacteria and enzymes to break down and eat away the organic waste that can cause clogs and blockages in your plumbing system. An annual cleaning with bio-clean is a perfect solution for maintaining your plumbing and keeping any potential clogs at bay.

Hydro jetting: Hydro jetting is a powerful cleaning tool that uses a high-pressure water stream to clean the inside of your plumbing system. The power of the water removes grease, limescale, and other debris that build up in pipes over time. For recurring blockages or frustrating clogs that don’t respond to other methods, hydro jetting is an ideal choice.

P-trap in rarely used sinks

The P-trap is a question-mark shaped piece of PVC or stainless steel located underneath your sink that traps debris and prevents clogs. It’s usually full of water, but if the sink in question is rarely used, this water can evaporate. With no water in the P-trap, sewer gasses can escape the drain and enter the air. It’s a good idea to run water down all the sinks in your home at least twice a month, to keep the P-trap full and sewer smells away.

2.      Inspect your washing machine for leaks

If the source of the sewage smell isn’t in the bathroom or the kitchen, don’t overlook your laundry room. Drain clogs, leaking P-traps, and vent-pipe clogs can all produce a sewage smell from your washing machine. You can use a drain snake to clear any clogs present in the drain line or contact a professional to help with re-installing your washing machine’s P-trap.

3.      Address smelly tap water

Strong sulfuric-smelling tap water can resemble an unpleasant sewer odor. The poor smell could be a result of corrosion in your water heater. As magnesium and aluminum interact in the water heater tank, the anode rod corrodes over time, resulting in water with a strong sulfuric scent. If the issue is with your water heater, then having the anode rod replaced should fix the smell. If not, the problem may be with the source of your water. Water filtration can improve the smell, taste, and color of your tap water through the following methods.

Particle filtration

Particle filtration is used to remove traces of particles in water ranging from sand to clay. Particle filtration also removes sediments from well water.

Activated carbon filtrations (Ultrafiltration)

Activated carbon filtrations are used to remove unwanted taste and odor from water and minimize health hazards. Ultrafiltration removes low concentrations of organic chemicals like pesticides and solvents and can reduce the levels of radon gas and chlorine found in water.


Distillation removes microorganisms, minerals, and metals from water. The process kills bacteria and leaves very few contaminants. Some home distillation units with carbon filters can remove volatile organic chemicals.

Reverse Osmosis (RO)

Five-stage reverse osmosis (RO) is the most popular water treatment in the Phoenix area, because many residents wish to improve the taste and purity of their drinking water. RO systems produce pure and great tasting water through an intricate process.

Ion exchange (Water softening)

Ion exchange is used to replace calcium with magnesium ions. Water softeners can also remove metals. However, they cannot remove organic chemicals, pathogens, particles, or radon gas.

4.      Call in a professional for a video drain inspection

If you can’t seem to get to the bottom of sewage smells in your home, it’s time to call in the professionals. Some plumbing problems, like deep obstructions or blockages from tree roots, can only be identified with the help of a video drain inspection. It allows a plumber to see the smallest of problems, whether you have a blockage, cracked pipe, root obstruction, or another issue. The best part is, a video drain inspection is quick and easy, with no damage to your pipes or your home.

5.      Let the experts at Chas Roberts take care of the problem

From stubborn plumbing odors to leaks and more, there’s no plumbing problem we can’t solve. Contact us, and one of our expert plumbers will be happy to help.