We had a heavy rain last night and woke up to an awful sewer smell
upstairs and it was almost unbearable to even breathe in the basement.
We have a septic tank that was just emptied late August. Second time
since we moved into house. When it was emptied the last time, there was
a very slight smell after the first couple of rainfalls but we have not
had a problem since until this morning. The smell was almost gone by
early evening upstairs. Do not know anything about septic systems except
we were told that we have to empty it at least every couple of years
which we have done. Other than that, there is nothing to look after.
Were we told wrong? We live in Canada in case cold weather may be a
factor. I searched the basement and can see no leakage anywhere. There
was very little smell outside and that could have come from our open
windows. The smell was strongest near where the tank pipes come into the
basement. The ground over the tilebed did not appear to be any wetter
than after any other rainfall. Any ideas what is the cause and how to
Thanks for any help
Look for a floor drain in the basement. If there is one, the trap may
have become dry. Pour a bucket of water into the drain every few months.
Not sure what connection the rain has unless downspouts/footer drains
are connected perhaps to a floor drain (and not to the septic).
Finding the origin of the odor in the basement will be the biggest clue.
OK. What else is in the basement? Washing machine drain? Or a sink
it drains into? Check that there is in fact a trap provided.
Any chance it could be an animal smell? I've been fooled a couple
of times by the skunks around here.
Was it windy during the rain? It could be a function of wind rather
There is nothing downstairs except all the pipes from the sinks, toilets, washing
machine, etc. upstairs that lead to the septic tank. The smell was strongest right
near where the pipes go through the exterior wall out to the septic tank. There is
no apparent leaks. An animal smell would be stronger outside. I don't know if it
was windy because it rained during the night and we just woke up to the smell.
On 11/30/2004 12:58 PM US(ET), Carl D took fingers to keys, and typed
my former neighbor had a similar problem and I could smell it from my
house. It seems his leach fields were in a low area of the back yard and
the yard was kinda like a shallow bowl. When it rained hard, the
rainwater pooled over the fields and perhaps it mixed with and diluted
the underground septic water to where it was all one big swamp.
I never saw any construction going on in his yard, and I haven't smelled
it in years, so I don't know what, if anything, he did. New neighbors
live there now.
Don't know if it makes any difference, but there were 5 adults in that
house before (parents + 3 older girls), now there are only 2 adults and
2 young kids.
You might want to call in a septic company to check out the condition of
your tank and fields.
Nothing has changed around here for it to start smelling and the tilebed was not
any more wet than anywhere else. It was inside the house not really outside. I
just would think if it was something like the tank or tilebed it would have
developed over time not so suddenly. Three kids in school here, I can't afford to
have everything ripped up right now so I hope it isn't anything major.
Do you have a sump pump? We had the same type of problem - smell in
the house with heavy rain, but not outside. It turned out that the
sump pump was pulling in water from the leaching field, and it doesn't
take much sewage to create a horrible smell.
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