Nasty sewage odor in bathroom


Hello all !
We bought this great house last summer and have been experiencing sewage odors in the 2nd floor bathroom. Looking around the web, I've came to figure out this could be a venting problem, but would like advises before we try to climb on the roof (pretty high and pretty steep !).
The house is on a sceptic system, which is about 5 years old, and the tank was services just before we moved in. There are 2 bathrooms: one on the main floor - no problem - and one on the second floor, where we experience odors. The second floor bath is in an addition to the house, which is 5 years old. Odors come from the old clawfoot tub drain. It doesn't smell constantly, just sometimes, and only after we use either the toilet or the shower. I've found that running water for a few minutes in the tub after a shower generally prevent the odor from happening... but I hate to have to waste water this way! Finally, when we flush the toilet, we can hear guggling sounds in the bath drain...
Since I read similar stories talking about roof vent, I went outside to check if there was anything on the roof looking like a drain. I didn't see anything on top of the main floor bath - which is in the single-story part of the house; no odor problem there, but did see someting coming up the second floor bathroom. It is located close to the shower, while the bath is at the other end of the bathroom. Is this a venting pipe ? Please take a look at this photo :
http://img44.imageshack.us/img44/5889/pb143584copie9pj.jpg
Many thanks for your help !
Geicko
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"geicko"
I'm afraid you'll probably need professional help on this one. The plumber will have to figure out if the toilet is sucking the tub trap dry, or if it's actually forcing air back through it, into the bathroom. It probably is a venting problem of some sort, but the problem might be something like the individual vent for the tub itself being obstructed. It could also well be the that claw foot bathtub (which I love for the comfortable feeling!) isn't vented at all.
I'll bet you might have to tear apart the ceiling under the tub and do some repiping. Cross your fingers.
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that vent pipe is too short also.

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Hello Geicko,
Before calling a plumber to solve the sewage odor coming from the bath room, try this. Remove the drain cover to the tub/shower and see if there is any hair & other foreign material in the P-trap. If you find hair, clean out the P-trap and then use a small snake to clean out the pipe. After that, pour about 1 cup of bleach down the drain and let stand over night. Hopefully this will solve your problem.
You may want to try the same thing on the sink as well. An accumulation of hair will cause a sewage odor as it decomposes. I had the same problem and it stopped once I cleaned out the shower drain.
Hope this works for you!!!
geicko wrote:

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Um.... Just because you're name is "John" doesn't mean you know "crap" about them. Heh heh, I "crack" myself up.:>)
A hog smells when it decomposes. If your hair smells that bad when it is in the shower drain I highly recommend either washing it more often or immediately seeking the services of an exorcist. Please leave the advice to real professionals, will ya'?
Bob Wheatley
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Bob Wheatley wrote:

Bob,
What hurt did my suggestion do? Absolutely none other than challenge your plumbing ability. Read the posts in the web link below and you'll find I know more "Crap" than you and I'm not even a plumber. About the only things you know as a plumber are the following:
1. Fridays are payday 2. Water doesn't flow up hill 3. Don't bite finger nails
Outside of this, you don't know diddly squat.
http://www.askmehelpdesk.com/forum/archive/t-6319.html
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"John"

Your suggestion did no harm. I could have suggested that he try red food coloring in the drain. That would have done no harm either. I realize you think that being a non-plumber somehow qualifies you to diagnose these situations. And I also realize that you're literate enough to somehow surf to a DIYer website and find useless suggestions by other non-plumbers. And I also realize that you think that if you insult experts and boast of your brainpower, that somehow you think you'll win an argument, but it just all misses the mark.
I will try to tell you why you're wrong. I do this so that Bob W. doesn't have to bother. He's probably already feeling weary by writing you before.
The big clue was that the guy heard gurgling from the tub when the toilet was flushed. This alone, is enough to eliminate your "look under the cover and pour a little bleach" solution. Even an idiot would realize that the problem lies past the tub trap. It must be either a venting problem, or a drainage one. Exactly how to you take a tub trap apart when it's on the second floor? Do you have magic eyes? Are you assuming it's a drum trap with exposed lid? Or are you just sort of ignorant?
So instead of spouting off here, why not go to the brain surgeon's newsgroup and give your non-doctor's solution to cerebral tumors?
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Mike Grooms wrote:

Sit on it an rotate.
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"John"

Wow, I am defeated. I surrender. You are my better. I obviously don't belong on the same planet as you. Will you ever forgive me?
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there
of
about
in
What the fuck ? Bob is a real Plummer pal. I don't like that 6th grade ditty that YOU think you invented. Now say you're sorry to Bob and the Plummers here.
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WAIT ! Be careful you did not also use Draino before. I seen a blown up toilet from a guy who could not unplug it, so he axed people what to put in it. He ran out of his house when the stuff in the toilet began to boil.
He had Draino, Clorox and then tried Sulfuric Acid from a car battery and who knows what else in it. I think you can call it a shitty IED and the use of Poison Gas. Acid and Clorox makes Chlorine Gas and water. What made it explode is unknown to me. He told me when that funny noise he heard he looked in and slammed the seat cover down. He put something on it then ran for his life. He also was crying and his lungs were burned. Chlorine gas hits the water in your lungs and eyes, this makes Hydrochloric acid. Its what killed a few thousand troops in WW I. It will blind you for life too.
Stick to only one chemical, but best is like John said, take a look in the P trap , there is no need to make a WMD in a residential hood.

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john = dick
wrote in message

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Wow... I didn't expect that kind of discussion to happen ! Beside, I'm a French speaker, so I kind of lost the essence of some replies but the main feeling I get is that some replies were not to bother with anyway, right ?
So... I will try to remove the bath drain cover and clean it. The Black & Decker Home Maintenantce guide I just got suggests 2 other recipes for drains cleaning. Can you comment ?
1- Weekly cleaning Pur 1/4 cup of this in each drain... 1 cup of sodium acid carbonate (grocery item) 1 cup of salt 1/4 cup cream of tartar
2- Before trying any chemical Pour 1 cup of sodium acid carbonate plus 1 pint of vinegar in the drain, wait for 15 minutes then pour 2-3 cups of boiling water.
Trying things progressively, I would assume recipe #3 to be the overnight bleaching you suggest John. Makes sense ?
Also, since the problem might be the venting pipe on the roof (to check if above doesn't work), can you confirm I can safely run water in it to check if it is blocked ? Should I wait for spring before I do so ? I mean, outdoor temperature is still above zero right now, but if water does not evacuate quickly form there... I believe I mau run into greater problems since it's going to be winter soon !
Thanks again for your help, and smile up everyone... !
Nathalie, alias Geicko ;-)
John a crit :

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& Decker Home Maintenantce guide I just got suggests 2 other recipes for drains cleaning. Can you comment ?>
Please don't waste your time with this nonsense. If drain line odors on the fixture side of the trap "could" be a problem, then the problem "would" be so prevalent that it would be common and world wide. Nor do you need to climbing up on your roof. What you need is a licensed professional to look at your situation. There are a number of things that "could" be causing your conditions and I'll list a few and take a guess at the most likely based on your original post.

sewage odors in the 2nd floor bathroom. > >
First, I can only assume that you actually are smelling sewer gas. Second, the only way sewer gas can get to you from the plumbing system is via an opening in that otherwise sealed system. That "opening" could be an evaporated trap due to limited use of a particular fixture (like a clawfoot tub). If it is more than 2 or 3 weeks between uses a trap can evaporate - depending the atmospheric humidity of your particular area. In your case you bought the house in the summer when there may have been an air conditioner being used and if so, it's trap and or drain destination needs to be looked at. The "opening" could be due to a trap this being siphoned dry because of improper venting or a vent that is stopped up or blocked. The "opening" could be a damaged pipe or fitting. The "opening" could be a broken seal such as the wax ring under the toilet.
Ultimately, there's no way for a plumber to properly diagnose your plumbing system over the internet or usenet any more that it would be for a doctor to diagnose your personal health.
Bob Wheatley
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Thanks for taking time replying Bob.
I understand it's impossible to diagnose without seeing and investigating, but just wanted to get some hints before I call a plumber. They charge me an hour just to get here... so it easily get pretty expensive to fix things we sometimes can do ourselves ;-)
That being said, we decided we could afford to waist some grocery ingredients first and see what happens before we make the expensive plumber's call. We poured the above mixture into both the bath and shower drains. It seemed it helped ! The shower drain really reacted as if it was blocked (we had to use a siphon) and we haven't experienced the bad odor since. The bath though, has started to do noise again when flushing the toilet about 2 days after we "cleaned" the drains. It's only been a week now and since the drain noise is back, obviously, it has not fixed the problem. But at least it looks like it minimized it. Now I'm wondering if what we smell really is sewage... by the way, we've only took one bath since we moved in 4 months ago.
Thanks anyway for your help.
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I have not re-read the original posts but I don't recall there being an issue with the shower in the first place. Right? I think I remember you saying the odor came from the clawfoot tub? Right?

As I pointed out in my previous reply "holes" do not fix themselves.:>) I cannot tell from my monitor here in Texas where that "hole" is or what is causing it, but you can rest assured no amount voodoo is going to fix it. If you are "hearing" sounds from the clawfoot tub when you flush the toilet that tells me that the tub trap is either dry or does not exist. One or the other.

LOL! :>) I'm not going to touch that (or you) with a ten foot pole.
Bob Wheatley
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