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gbecki49
Now What?

We've put water down the vent stack and it goes all the way through, we've smoke tested and smoke comes out the vent, we replaced an "s" with a p-trap on the laundry. We have no dry traps. What we do still have is sewer gas smell. It's not constant and is only noticed in the warmer months. Should I suspect a faulty (cracked, separated, etc.) vent stack? Time to break out the peppermint oil? Thanks!

JLMCDANIEL
Re: Now What?

Could it be sewer gas blowing in an open window?
Jack

gbecki49
Re: Now What?

I don't think so. We get this whether windows are opened or closed. It DOES seem to only happen when it is a bit too warm or humid in the house, i.e. windows haven't been opened yet or air hasn't been turned on. Turn on the air and the smell goes away. We have window air as opposed to central. We've been working on painting the house and my husband noticed the smell when he was up on the roof painting the second story eaves last weekend. No sewer smell in the house at that time. Windows were open and it was a beautiful 74 degree day with a slight breeze. We're also in the process of a kitchen redo. I pulled up some baseboard on the wall that is just over the laundry room in order to repair the floor. Now we can smell the sewer gas where the baseboard is missing. The vent stack runs up inside that wall at just about that point. I'm really beginning to think it is a problem with the stack such as a crack or separation, but just don't know and the thought of wrecking out walls in order to find out is NOT appealing! I'm thinking about using some peppermint oil down the stack to see if I can smell it anywhere in the house. I shouldn't be able to if the stack is in good working order. Another problem is when we turn on the attic fan. We can be guaranteed a blast of sewer gas if we do that, regardless of the weather. The smell seems to originate in the laundry area with few exceptions. When it is really strong in the laundry, we could also smell it in the closet just below the laundry room, but not every time. This closet is where the plumbing "ends". There was an "s", rather than a p-trap on the laundry plumbing so I installed a p-trap. We were sewer gas free for about 3 weeks and then it started again. I'm just at a complete loss here. Any thoughts?

JLMCDANIEL
Re: Now What?

One thing you might try is adding a little height to the vent pipe. The gas may be coming out the pipe and being sucked into sofit vents and then down the wall.

Do you have a septic system and if so when was it pumped out last?
Jack

gbecki49
Re: Now What?

No septic system. We're on city sewer. I've often wondered if our being next to last on the city sewer line may have anything to do with it.

Gray Watson
Re: Now What?

Considering the information on your other posts:

http://advice.thisoldhouse.com/showthread.php?t=11698

http://advice.thisoldhouse.com/showthread.php?p=33623#post33623

http://advice.thisoldhouse.com/showthread.php?t=7957

http://advice.thisoldhouse.com/showthread.php?t=7471

http://advice.thisoldhouse.com/showthread.php?t=5977

I have some questions.

When did you first notice this problem, before adding the basement bathroom group? before remodeling the upstairs bathroom? before remodeling the kitchen?

You have mentioned in other posts that the basement group was stubbed out and that after remodeling the upstairs bathroom which you did not re-set the tub that you were having problems with the tub shifting upstairs and that the tub was not draining right. You have also detailed that you only notice the odor in warmer months and that you have dense humidity in the basement during those months. You also mentioned you replaced an S trap configuration for the laundry drain with a P trap but made NO mention of venting the trap arm, the distance involved, the pitch, assuring the trap weir is correct, etc. You previously discussed relocating the kitchen sink, unknown if you added sinks, dishwasher, etc., in other posts you discussed new kitchen flooring - fair to assume that the main part of the kitchen remodel has been accomplished? In other string not cited above you referenced installing underlayment and finished flooring in a new bathroom - assume this was not done by the contractors your husband hired to finish the basement bathroom and that you had a flooring elevation change in the vicinity of the basement toilet.

You have made no mention of auxiliary venting in any of your posts. Is there any venting branches (even if they are integrated to the main stack vent before the attic but above the highest flood level of the highest fixture?

In other post strings you mentioned you were the last home before the treatment plant on the other side of the road, your last update to this string says you are now next to last: Is there another sewer connection before the plant now (or not?)? When did this (if) change?

If you have added fixtures (basement bath group, dishwasher, etc.) plumbing and venting calculations needed to be done to assure you have not exceeded the capacity of the systems.

How is the basement bathroom group vented?

Can you diagram the plumbing and venting systems completely and post it?

Assuming it was done correctly and to code, the next most likely are breach, and the foul gasses being trapped in the basement were the air is cooler, heavy and humid. PVC DWV which expands and contracts significantly with temperature changes.

Examples: Fitting not sealed/cemented properly pipes move leak occurs, Flexing from temperature changes the pitch on an arm allowing an improperly installed and braced lateral to shift not maintaining the water level, improperly designed and installed venting for a fixture group, and the most common DIY error: a nail penetration to the venting system, which when in use during certain temperature changes allows leaking.

The other post about the mysterious capped "drain" found in the basement, plus your assertion that the later installation of the basement bathroom group and your assumption it was "stubbed out" and connected properly I suspect it was not DWV'd correctly.

gbecki49
Re: Now What?

I completely appreciate your efforts, and your eloquent way of pointing out the fact that I'm not a plumber. BECAUSE I'm not a plumber, I come here looking for advice/help in an effort to do things myself as much as possible. That said, I'll try to answer as much as I can.

When did you first notice this problem, before adding the basement bathroom group? before remodeling the upstairs bathroom? before remodeling the kitchen? Not sure when my husband noticed this first. He purchased the home 16 years before I came along. As stated in posts you cited, the basement bath plumbing WAS stubbed in when he bought the house and he hired someone to build the walls and set the fixtures BEFORE he moved in. He has stated that he is sure the smell wasn't here when he first purchased the house, but showed up a "few years" after. Upstairs bath was just re-done recently, and the kitchen re-do hasn't started yet.

You have mentioned in other posts that the basement group was stubbed out and that after remodeling the upstairs bathroom which you did not re-set the tub that you were having problems with the tub shifting upstairs and that the tub was not draining right. No. The tub in question is in the basement bathroom. As stated in my post that you cited, the tub is pitched incorrectly. I didn't say anything about it shifting. Just incorrectly pitched. We have trouble from time to time with it draining slowly, but chemicals for clogs always works.

You also mentioned you replaced an S trap configuration for the laundry drain with a P trap but made NO mention of venting the trap arm, the distance involved, the pitch, assuring the trap weir is correct, etc. You're right, I didn't mention any of that. I put the P trap where the S was and didn't change anything else. Remember...I'm not a plumber. Where this S was is the only part of the plumbing that is exposed except for about the last 4 feet of the vent pipe. Everything else is behind walls.

In other string not cited above you referenced installing underlayment and finished flooring in a new bathroom - assume this was not done by the contractors your husband hired to finish the basement bathroom and that you had a flooring elevation change in the vicinity of the basement toilet. No again. No reference was made to a new bathroom or to new flooring in the basement bathroom. This was done in an existing bathroom...the one UPSTAIRS. The contractors who did the basement bathroom haven't been in this house since 1990. I replaced the flooring in the UPSTAIRS bathroom myself. Common sense told me to go back with the same thickness I took out so I WOULDN'T change the elevation of the floor and cause issues with the toilet not sealing properly.

You have made no mention of auxiliary venting in any of your posts. Is there any venting branches (even if they are integrated to the main stack vent before the attic but above the highest flood level of the highest fixture? Don't have a clue. As mentioned above, all of the plumbing/venting is behind walls where I can't see any of it.

In other post strings you mentioned you were the last home before the treatment plant on the other side of the road, your last update to this string says you are now next to last: Is there another sewer connection before the plant now (or not?)? When did this (if) change? For the first 10 years my husband owned this home (as stated in the post you cite) he was the last house on the block. About 10 years after he bought the house, another house was built and then an apartment complex, in that order. Sewer smell was present before these structures went in, and the apartment complex was torn down this year. So, we are now the next to last house.

If you have added fixtures (basement bath group, dishwasher, etc.) plumbing and venting calculations needed to be done to assure you have not exceeded the capacity of the systems. No fixtures have been added.

How is the basement bathroom group vented? As referenced above, I can't see any of this.

Can you diagram the plumbing and venting systems completely and post it? See above.

If I understand you correctly (and my limited knowledge may prevent this), my problem could either be improper installation by the contractor who did the basement bathroom in 1990, OR a nail hole caused by myself or my husband. Since neither myself or my husband have done anything structural, let alone anywhere near the vent, (and the smell has been around for at least 15 years) then, according to you, I have to assume improper installation is the problem. I'd be okay with that EXCEPT, the contractor's work had to be inspected and signed off on BEFORE the bank would release the funds for my husband to purchase the house in the first place. So, (and I may be too trusting here)I'm going to have faith that the contractor did his job correctly and that after all this, I'm still at square one.

Again, I realize I'm not a plumber, and again, that's why I come here. Some people assume that folks like me just do stuff without thinking it through, planning it out, or taking advice given by people who ARE licensed. I'm sure many do, but I'm not one of them. If I'm not sure I'm capable of doing something, I don't do it. If I haven't done it before, I ask and/or research before I attempt it. As for this problem, as you've pointed out by way of citing previous posts, I've been asking the experts for quite some time now, and have even had a plumber in my home to try to figure this problem out. So far, I don't have an answer. So, I'll keep coming back and asking questions. In the meantime, if anyone else wants to chime in their 2 cents worth, I'm all ears! Thanks again. Oh, and by the way, just to reiterate: I'm in central Missouri.

havanagranite
Re: Now What?

don't let that poster get under your skin, you may not be a plumber but neither is that poster. its not rocket science its plumbing. if it was impossable for home owners to do any of it code wouldn't allow it. sometimes to fix problems of sewer gas smells its kind of a hunt and peck sort of thing.

gbecki49
Re: Now What?

Thanks havanagranite. I don't usually let folks like that bother me, but I'm so darned frustrated over this issue to start with, the last thing I needed was someone giving me grief. I appreciate the kind words!

JLMCDANIEL
Re: Now What?

gbecki49,
You might want to check with the local tool rentals and see if they have a sewer camera and display. You can feed the camera down the vent and check for nails, holes, disconnected joints, or blockage. If they don't many plumbers do but there will be a charge involved.

Another thing you might try is closing all the windows and doors and installing a fan in a door or window to create negative pressure. If you don't smell the gas outside and you do this and can smell gas it will at least let you know the problem is internal.

Stay with it, some posters just know how to cut and paste, often have no idea what they are talking about, but represent themselves as experts. Most members are avid DIYers, many are professionals and are here to help.
Jack

gbecki49
Re: Now What?

Thanks Jack! I hadn't thought about the camera. What a fabulous idea! No worries on me sticking with it. I'm not one to let her butt be kicked by something like this. Like havanagranite said: it's not rocket science, it's plumbing! I only give up when I've exhausted ALL possibilities and I'll keep trying as long as folks keep suggesting. Thanks again for the idea and for your support!

Becki

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