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My house stinks!

Hello, New home owner here.
I have a row house that has a nasty sewerage type smell that seems to be strongest in the kitchen. I have an unfinished basement under the kitchen and I had thought that was the cause. However, there are no floor drains in the basement and the plumbing runs along its ceiling and doesn't have any nasty odour. I have a de-humidifier in the basement, so I don't think it's dampness causing it. I've plunged the sinks in the kitchen and treated them with bleech and boiling water (as advised by a friend) to try and neutralise any bacteria that might be causing a stench.
I'm pretty immune to the smell now, but friends tell me it's still going strong!
Any ideas of what to look at next?



Re: My house stinks!

Right idea, wrong direction.

Perhaps your vent stack is clogged? Sewer gasses are, rather than going up through and out the roof, instead coming out the sink because the vent stack is blocked.

I'm NOT going to recommend you go on your roof to check it out because it can be very dangerous and you need specific tools anyway. Call a plumber.

Re: My house stinks!

Thanks for your reply jsmarin,

I would be interested to hear more about where the venting stack might be found in my house. I've traced the sink, toilet (upstairs and downstairs) and washing machine pipes to one big pipe (looks like 6 inches) that is in the basement and runs at a steady downward slope out of my basement towards the street. I've not seen an upward pipe yet. I have a flat roof, so its no problem for me to get up and search around, what would it look like and is it possible I don't have one? I'm sorry if my questions seem simplictic, but I'm totally new to all this!



Re: My house stinks!

It's also possible a vent stack is not properly connected, broken or never completed, so sewer gas could be venting into the house. They tend to be concealed. You'll basically have one at each fixture unless the fixtures are close enough to share vents.
Could also be a bad or improperly installed wax ring on a toilet. It may not be apparent unless the toilet is loose or you see wetness.

Re: My house stinks!

Thanks for your reply,
I should mention that my house is about 100yrs old, so I'm not sure if it will have any vents to the roof? I've been looking into my venting systems and I thought it would be best to post the pics for the pros to look at. The pipe in the second picture that has no destination leads to the outside of my house, but I can't see anything on the outside apart from a street drain, is it possible this pipe leads into that?? The last picture with the main drain and washing machine pipe in, the squiggly white line is following the path of the washing machine pipe that's obscured by the sink pipe. I hope the pictures are clear enough.
my main worry is that we're not getting adequate venting and the sewer gas is coming into my kitchen.

Thanks for all your help!

Re: My house stinks!

I don't see a vent pipe in the photos. Closest possibility would be the toilet pipe - which would then have to run up to the roof.

A vent pipe is easily seen. It is a large pipe (either cast iron or plastic) which would be coming straight up out of your roof for at least a foot.

It allows venting. A wall of water moving thru a pipe displaces the air in front of it. Since we can't create a vacuum - a vent pipe allows the free flow of air into the pipe - which the wall of drain water moves. If we don't have a vent - then the 'p' trap visible in your photos underneath the kitchen - will have its water sucked out of it; and you will then have sewer gas going up into your kitchen.

Your probably have a vent problem. Caused by a [to small/non existant/or plugged] vent as has been previously suggested.

I don't see any vent in your photos. And your kitchen pipes only go downward - you have none going upward to a vent...

If you don't have a vent - you will have to add one. This isn't really that hard to do. But is labor intensive.

Hire a plumber (as previously suggested) or go to your local hardware store and purchase a couple of books on plumbing, electrical, etc. You will find them invaluable and more than worth their weight in gold.

Good Luck.
BTW: A house without a Vent is a major NO-NO. When did you pruchase this? Was the sewer gas problem disclosed?

Re: My house stinks!

Unfortunately, this problem with the vent, or lack of it, is becoming apparent to us only now.
With a little investigation I've found that the PVC pipe from the downstairs toilet drips directly into the basement when it's flushed, so that could well be the cause of some of the smell! I'm going to get a plumber in to fix the pipe, so I'll get them to address the vent problem at the same time.

Thanks for your help with my problems, much appreciated!


Re: My house stinks!

I had the same problem with our 86 year old house! I had a plumber out to give me quotes for replacing the hot and cold lines; they were cast iron and also to see why our toliet in the basement had a bad odor! Upon his insection, the basement toliet was vented to the drain; so....To say the least the City did not get me on this when I bought the house; but now I can legally say I have a 2 bathroom home, that is legal; after spending over 8 grand for new copper lines and replacing the cast iron drains with PVC. New problem I now have, since purchasing a new washing machine is that when the washer starts up we hear a shaking noise coming from the hot and cold lines, before we had the new washer no problem. Any ideas; water hammer? Confused!

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