When your house smells like sewer gas or methane, here are 5 things to know and check:
- The first step is finding where the odor is coming from. Because methane is a heavier gas, it’ll sink rather than rise. When the smell seems to be coming from an area completely away from any drain, look higher and upstream from the air current. Float a feather or a small piece of thin paper to determine air current direction rather than lighting a match when you’ve got methane. Methane can be flammable.
- Check the drains. Dry drains can be a major culprit for sewer gas leaks. The drain trap dries out and gets smaller, causing a break in the seal. Re-wet the drain by pouring a 5-gallon bucket of water into the drain, or running the faucet for approximately 30 seconds.
- Check the pipes under the sink. Is the odor stronger there? If so, is there a leak that you can see? Is there a vent? Call a professional to replace worn and broken parts, ensuring a proper fit and a better smelling area.
- The sewer line may be clogged. Do you have a lot of larger trees nearby? Do you have older clay sewage pipes that link your home or business to the city’s sewer lines? Tree roots can grow into clay lines and block waste water leaving your premises. It can make toilets flush slower or incompletely, or even create a sewage backup in your mechanic’s room or basement. When you live with a lot of trees or have older clay pipes, call a professional to clean your sewer line cleanout regularly. It’s well worth it to have good flushing toilets and free-flowing drains!
- The roof line stack might be blocked. This feature is usually found around your roofline, and helps pressurize your plumbing, creating the “oomph” to make toilets flush and waste water leave your building. The biggest tipoff to a blocked stack is when toilets don’t flush. A professional can help you here, too, by having the right equipment and experience to clear the blockage and bring back free-running drains.