No, not that kind of smell.
I bought this house about 6 months ago and sometimes in the master bathroom
toilet there is a funny smell. Its kind of like paint drying, but somewhat
more like chemical smell. Its not always there but I do smell it several
times a week, and it is fairly strong. Strong enough that if I try to sniff
it out to try and find out where its coming from then it makes me a little
nauseous. Its been there on and off the entire 6 months Ive been here. I
have no idea what to do about it or who to call. It doesnt really smell
like electrical burn, but thats the most dangerous possibility I think.
Should I call an electrician to be sure?
Does it have a separate tub & shower ? What I'm getting at is if there is a
drain in the room that itsn't being used much if at all (our "tub" never
gets used, we are showerers). If so, pour some water down the unused drain
from time to time. If what's in there evaporates, it opens up the
drain/room to sewer gases which will at times (not always) be drawn into the
room. Also, you might check closely around the base of your toilet to make
sure the seal hasn't allowed any 'seepage'. There could be a hidden leak
letting water etc to seep into your floor around the wax ring (seal) of the
This may be a long shot, but maybe a previous owner put something in
there as a "deodorizer" - like those in-tank cakes (Tidy Bowl) or a
plug-in gizmo in an outlet -- have you tried looking around for those
sorts of things? -- H
I don't have any bathroom smell problem, but when you mentioned the
seepage above I thought of one of my bathrooms.
What you describe sounds like my situation.
Just where the toilet meets the floor there are two damp lines in the
tiling. They stay there pretty much most of the time.
And its been this way for years and years (more than 8 years).
Is it necessary to correct?
I wouldn't want to do it myself if it needs to be corrected.
How much would something like this cost to be fixed?
First determine the problem. It might be condensation running down the
outside, or a veerry slow leak in the water supply system. Tighten up all
Put some blue food coloring in the bowl. Use a lot. If the water on the
floor is blue, the leak is down there. Put some red dye in the tank. Look
for red water. (Worry about whether the dye will make a permanent stain.)
My handyman rate is $40/hour. It would take me 1 to 8 hours to remove and
replace your toilet, depending on the condition. I can do a new toilet in
10 minutes, but I'm never asked to work on those, for some reason. :)
Wax ring: $2.00 (alternative no-wax insert: $5.00)
New bolts: $3.00
* The bolts might be corroded to the point you have to saw them off.
* The top of the stack might be degraded to the point you have to grind
it down and put in an expansion replacement.
* If you're going to the trouble of replacing the wax ring, go ahead and
replace the tank bolts and gasket. Another 30 minutes and $8.00.
Adam, probably a bad toilet seal. This is a little cumbersome but easy
normally to fix yourself. The only time when it's 'a bit hard' is when you
have copper pipes.
Detach the feeds and unbolt the toilet. Lift and replace the wax seal. Put
it back together.
If the bolts are corroded (not uncommon with a bad seal if it's been going
on a long time) it can be hard to get the toilet base off without breaking
it. Best thing is to measure really well at the base and check a local
hardware store for a replacement unit that will be the same size or slightly
larger at the base. Don't buy it, just be prepared if you have to.
*IF* that happens, here's how to handle it. To measure the base out really
accurately (so you wont have a problem with gaps in the
linoleum/tile/whatever floor) the 'easy way' use wax paper. Take 2 pieces
and some masking tape. Lay them on the floor along the sides (front to
back) then scrunch them in til the bottom and top edges meet. You may want
to trim some of the center out first but less than the size of the base.
Tape the front and back well so it doesnt come apart. Next, using a sharp
razor knife, trim the wax paper to as close to the base as you can. Tape
any little tears. Now it's surrounded and just the right size. Cutting
open on one side, lift it away. Use to measure a new toilet so you get the
right base size and shape. No messing with 'the new one left uncovered
edges and now we need to redo the floor'.
(Wax paper is easier to work with and wont split like regular paper will).
The gasses you describe which 'make you nauseous' are literally quite
dangerous in concentration.
Here are the bathroom smell sources that come to my mind:
* Sewer gas -- Check for leaky pipes or water evaporated from traps. Be
sure to check the vent stack; it might be leaky or even plugged.
* Sulfurated water (rare) -- Get on city water or buy a filter.
* Contaminated water (*very* rare) -- Get your water tested, then get
ready for long-term trouble.
* Something in or on the wall -- Check the other side of all the walls,
in the attic, and in the basement. Maybe someone spilled a little gasoline
in the garage.
* Personal care or cleaning products (*very* common) -- Check the bottom
of the sink cabinet. Maybe someone spilled some hair coloring or cleaning
* Pesticides -- Did you have an exterminator in recently? Sometimes the
smell comes back with weather changes.
* Dietary issues -- Human smells can be surprisingly varied. You're on
your own with this one. :)
I don't think anyone mentioned the vent stack yet, so there's something to
check. You can run a garden hose down from the roof.
My insurance agent insists that I point out that I'm not a plumber, just a
handyman. Plumbers need licenses, which I don't got. :) I'm allowed to do
minor repairs, like fix leaky toilets. I also clean out the occasional
plugged up drain. If you want complicated stuff done, I can give you some
Sewer gas odors vary *a lot*.
Remembering back to the chemistry degree I never used:
-The major part of sewer gas is methane, which is odorless.
-Hydrogen sulfide is the rotton-egg smell (it's poisonous).
-Ammonia is in there, too, and you know how that smells.
-Methyl mercaptan is one of the major smell producers in human waste; it's
what the gas company adds so you notice a leak.
Then there's the devil's mix from people flushing cleaning chemicals and
stuff they aren't supposed to flush. They react with each other, producing
only heaven (and a sanitation engineer) knows what. The gas that comes out
of a faulty drain in your house could be from some other house miles
I still think you should check the vent stack. Its purpose is to send all
those nasty gasses up to your roof so they can blow away. If it's blocked,
the gas comes out your drains. Run a garden hose down from the roof, or
call a drain cleaner.
Grin, thats ok! I'm mostly a self defense sort of 'handyman'. I'll be
looking into an estimate for my brick BBQ before we try to tackle it
ourselves. It might not be that expensive.
A handyman with bricking experience would be suitable (this is not a major
job, just a repair job of some 10 bricks or so). We 'can' do it, but they
might be neater.
Yup. My experience with them is Navy shipboard driven. It's also the salt
water lines with lots of tiny dying and dead algae. Popped a leak once in
the AFFF lines and we lost a sailor. Apparently overcome by the gasses.
Hadnt thought of that one!
Yeah, that seems another one! Hadnt thought of that either.
In additions to what others suggested, look for mold growing someplace. It
could be the back of the toilet, under a heater, inside some cranny. Wipe
things down with a bleach solution. Especially the walls around the toilet
where urine may have splashed over the years.
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