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Plumbing Stench - Running toilet - Correlation?

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Forum topic by chrisstef posted 02-19-2013 03:47 PM 1026 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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chrisstef

10833 posts in 1660 days


02-19-2013 03:47 PM

A bit off topic here but ive got a plumbing question again for the esteemed panel of LJ’s.

Lately, well for the last 2 years or so, ive been getting a stink in the basement. At first i thought it was a dead mouse or sometihng along those lines but its just never gone away entirely. Its not a full time stench. Recently ive been connecting the dots and it always seems to smell bad when the first floor toilet is left running. Sometimes that little flapper just dont wanna flap ya know and it will run for a little while. The other night it was left running for a few hours and the basement smelled somethin awful. Worse than it ever has.

Im on a septic system and recently had it pumped so im sure that the tanks are not full. The house is a 2 story with a full basement and the bathroom are relatively stacked. Now the basement 1/2 bath isnt used at all or at best extremely rarely. The toilet in there has water in it to prevent any gases seeping back and ive got the water shut off to it.

Any thoughts out there on why it smells like death sometimes?

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty


32 replies so far

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OnlyJustME

1562 posts in 1030 days


#1 posted 02-19-2013 03:54 PM

What about the sink in the basement half bath? does the trap have water? is there a floor drain for the laundry room?

Check to see that the chain isn’t too long in the toilet and getting caught under the flapper.

just a few quick thoughts.

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

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superstretch

1504 posts in 1346 days


#2 posted 02-19-2013 03:57 PM

I hope its not what we had—

My dad and I hooked up the water feed to a second-story toilet.. the drain was already run and hooked up. I have 2 septic tanks outside and that toilet was the only thing that fed into one of them. About 2 years after living there—and shortly after finishing that upstairs bathroom, we started smelling “death” by the front door.. I thought a skunk had died under the front porch (again). A few months pass and we smell that on and off.. well the March quarterly water meter read card showed up in the mail box, so I went down into the basement.. a stone, unfinished basement that has had snakes and skunks in the past, so we tend to stay out of there.

I walked down the stairs to find a 3-6” of sewage -_-

Turns out the previous owner had crushed the clay tiles to that septic tank when they put in an extension of the pool deck.. On top of that, there was a line off of that sewage line in the basement that was uncapped .. so when the line outside the house started backing up, the path of least resistance was the uncapped line in the house.

tl;dr: see if any sewage is leaking in the basement.. check for any uncapped lines where sewer gasses might be leaking

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

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chrisstef

10833 posts in 1660 days


#3 posted 02-19-2013 04:01 PM

Im not sure if the trap has water in the sink Matt, ill have to check that. No floor drains to speak of, the laundry room is about 20’ away in the basement and from what i see, its discharges through the foundation wall into the footing drain (i think, its all underground, but could very well pipe to the septic tanks)

Stretch – I might open up the clean out that is in the corner of the shop and snake it. The system was installed 10 years ago and luckily theres nothing over top of the piping route to the septic tanks, so a crushed pipe is kind of low on my concerns. I suspect its got something to do with the basement bathroom. Like OJM was talking about, the sink trap, is now my number one suspect. Im thinkin a half gal of bleach down there wouldnt hurt nothin. I havent noticed any uncapped lines in the basement but will certainly double check.

Im in the basement almost daily, as thats where the shop is and the laundry room. I hope that i dont ever have to slosh through 6” of lump fish infested waters one day.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

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Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1812 days


#4 posted 02-19-2013 04:13 PM

Direct correlation to the flapper, it seems. Replace it. They get too soft and flexible over time. Easy fix.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

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ShaneA

5299 posts in 1252 days


#5 posted 02-19-2013 04:18 PM

Stef, for pete’s sake, replace the innards of the running toilet. Takes 10-15 minutes, costs $10. C’mon man…make sure all the p-traps have water, as suggested. The air vents/stacks are all clear/connected and working properly would be my only other thought…but I am not a plumber. Good luck.

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chrisstef

10833 posts in 1660 days


#6 posted 02-19-2013 04:20 PM

Jay – its not so much the runnign water that concerns me but the stench is causes a floor below, which im assuming is sewer gas. Even when its not running ill get an occasional stink, but when it does run it smells somethin awful. Ill definatley replace the loose flapper b/c its not really good for the ole well pump to be workin double time like that. The little chain broke about a week ago and i got it all jury rigged with some tie wire ;). I know, i know …. stop bein lazy. Ill hit the borg today.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

1336 posts in 1023 days


#7 posted 02-19-2013 04:20 PM

Agree with replacing the flapper, but still need to address why the smell is coming into the basement. Does the basement have floor drains? We have one in our garage and one in our laundry room. If the floor drain has dried up, it could be allowing gases back into the house.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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chrisstef

10833 posts in 1660 days


#8 posted 02-19-2013 04:26 PM

BE – no floor drains to speak of. There is one outside but its pretty far away from the stink. Ive got a serious hunch that its the basement bathroom sink and a dry trap. Plumbing in the house is seriously funky and i know its been messed with by the fact that it goes from copper to pvc in a bunch of areas.

Would pouring water into that sink cure a dry trap? Should i do it often? Bleach? Dissconnect and cap it off?

My turd chasing abilities are obviously lacking.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View IrreverentJack's profile

IrreverentJack

724 posts in 1496 days


#9 posted 02-19-2013 04:33 PM

Like said above, check that your traps have water. I don’t understand how a flappers could cause gases to leak, but if the toilet is running it was flushed and that could cause it. If you have cast iron soil pipe running horizontally, check the top of the pipe for perforations caused by rust. If you have a vacuum breakers/air admitance valves on the drain lines make sure they are working. Good luck. -Jack

Christef- Any chance the vent pipe on your roof is covered with snow?

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489tad

2324 posts in 1665 days


#10 posted 02-19-2013 04:37 PM

Chirs, I’m battling the same thing. The bathroom shared between son and daughter was getting pretty stinky. Previous owners had two girls sharing the bathroom. One sink would drain slow and smell. I disconnected the trap and pulled out a cats worth of hair from the pipe going into the wall. Fast forward to today. Bathroom smells. No leaks. Smell seemed to be coming from the tub. I cleaned the trap and poured a foaming drain cleaner. Smell is all but gone. I was told methane gas can travel back up hair in the trap. Not a plumber, what do I know. I agree with cleaning the dry traps. I was told about once a month to keep water level up. There are many home made recipes on the web for cleaning pipes. Bleach is good.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

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489tad

2324 posts in 1665 days


#11 posted 02-19-2013 04:42 PM

Sorry, you said smell in the basement. Parents house had a bad cast pipe. Replaced it with PVC. No smell and no more centipedes.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

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AnthonyReed

4656 posts in 1093 days


#12 posted 02-19-2013 04:46 PM

The running water would displace the gases and force them out the dry trap. That might be why the smell is more prevalent after the toilet has been running.

-- ~Tony

View OnlyJustME's profile

OnlyJustME

1562 posts in 1030 days


#13 posted 02-19-2013 04:48 PM

Bleach not so good on a septic system. It kills the bacterias that break down the sewage in the tank. Just undo the trap under the sink to see if it’s clogged/dry and if it is clean it out or just run the water after you put it back on. Depending on how dry it is in the basement or if you run a dehumidifier down there you should run the faucet every few days or weeks. I have to do the same thing in my basement full bath with the shower, toilet and sink.

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

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BinghamtonEd

1336 posts in 1023 days


#14 posted 02-19-2013 04:52 PM

Tony : Best plumbing schematic ever.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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chrisstef

10833 posts in 1660 days


#15 posted 02-19-2013 04:56 PM

Ill bleach it, foam it, and run some water through it. Thanks for all the insight fellas. What would i do without you guys?

Edit: +1 on Ed’s comment on Tony diagrams. All ya need is a pic of my ugly mug over the stink pipe. Also, maybe ill scratch the bleach, but im only talking like 1/4 gal of bleach. We’ll see what the water does.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

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