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Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

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  • Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

    I have a shower in the lower level (3-ft below grade) which I don't use and keep getting a noticible sewer-like smell from the shower drain. When I look down the drain with a flashlight I cannot see any water. If I run water into the drain the smell disappears for a time but eventually comes back. Why is this happening? Is this normal? What can I do to prevent the smell without having to remember to run water in the drain?

  • #2
    Re: Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

    What is happening is the water in your showers trap is drying out, and the sewer gases from either your septic tank, or city sewer main are coming back and into your bathroom.

    Yes, it is normal if you don't use a sink, or shower for this to happen.

    How hard is it to run water for a minute or two once every 2 weeks or so?
    Last edited by Aaron91; 05-26-2008, 12:59 PM.
    Proud To Be Union!!

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    • #3
      Re: Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

      I'm more likely to guess there's a slow leak on the trap or siphonage from lack of venting, where it's in the basement a leak can seep into the ground unnoticed.
      It all depends on how long it takes for the water to dissipate.
      If it takes months, then it's like Aaron says, if it takes days or hours..it's a leak.
      You can tell if it's siphonage by having someone flush a toilet while the kitchen & bath sink drain a full basin.
      Keep your flashlight down the drain, you should see little or no movement in the water at the trap.

      Telltale sign of siphonage - gurgling at the shower when a toilet is flushed.

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      • #4
        Re: Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

        You could pour vegetable oil in the drain. It will never evaporate. Plus if it dissapears it could tell you that you have a poor vent or your trap is leaking

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        • #5
          Re: Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

          The vegtable oil is a great idea, although, if you remove the grate, you can install a 2" dollar plug in the bottom of the drain.

          This is how wwe test shower drains when we have to locate leaks.
          sigpic

          Robert

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          • #6
            Re: Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

            Westcoastplumber - Are you saying that a plug in the drain is a good solution to prevent trap dryout between infrequent uses of the shower or to test the shower drain for leaks? What is a "dollar" plug and why couldn't a plug be put in at thet op of the drain?

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            • #7
              Re: Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

              Originally posted by jcmount2 View Post
              Westcoastplumber - Are you saying that a plug in the drain is a good solution to prevent trap dryout between infrequent uses of the shower or to test the shower drain for leaks? What is a "dollar" plug and why couldn't a plug be put in at thet op of the drain?
              No the plug would just seal the drain and prevent the sewer gas from entering your home. The idea with the vegetable oil (I prefer mineral oil) prevents the trap from drying out plus if some one wants to shower they still can as long as you add the oil to the trap when they are done.

              Don't forget though, if the level of the oil drops you have a leaking trap which needs to be replaced or your trap is siphoning for some reason. Then the plug will prevent the sewer gas but the shower is no longer usable.

              Mark
              "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

              I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

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              • #8
                Re: Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

                you try a back flow preventer/ Back water vale if you want to use the shower the odd time, but this will get stuck open with to much use because of hair and it will need to be cleaned


                http://www.watts.com/prod_images/BV.jpg
                Last edited by rombo; 05-26-2008, 05:08 PM.

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                • #9
                  Re: Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

                  running water for a couple seconds every week will keep the trap full. also it will prevent arthritis from settling in on the valve stems.

                  the oil is good too.

                  or you can put a flat bottom plunger sitting on top of the floor drain. you then move it to use it and return it when finished. you might need some vaseline to help fill the void at the grout lines.

                  rick.
                  phoebe it is

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                  • #10
                    Re: Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

                    The one important question hasn't been answered.
                    How long does it take to dry up?

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                    • #11
                      Re: Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

                      Originally posted by DuckButter View Post
                      The one important question hasn't been answered.
                      How long does it take to dry up?
                      "eventually"

                      Mark
                      "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                      I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

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                      • #12
                        Re: Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

                        Time to dry up enough to notice smell is a couple of weeks, more or less depending on the interior humidity level.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

                          install a primer in the drain it will send a little bit of watter into the drain every day keeping the trap full . or simply run your furnace or air con dishing hose to the shower to drain into it that will also keep it full. www.plumbing-help.com (bio clean)

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                          • #14
                            Re: Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

                            HEY JACK,maybe You missed this, It's all fixed ! He put 90 weight gear oil down the drain!
                            Guy from N.H. OR MAINE CALLED IN!
                            I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

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                            • #15
                              Re: Sewer Smell From Shower Drain

                              Originally posted by plumbing-help.com View Post
                              install a primer in the drain it will send a little bit of watter into the drain every day keeping the trap full . or simply run your furnace or air con dishing hose to the shower to drain into it that will also keep it full. www.plumbing-help.com (bio clean)
                              Isnt that a little over kill for a shower that doesnt get much use . If the problem is simple evaporation I usually recommend as rick said simply remember to run water in the shower a little once a week.
                              I have not tried the vege oil but sounds like a great idea. I will have to remember to try that next time I run into the dry trap situation again.
                              If you have a venting isue which is dring out the trap you will have to get some professional help .
                              If you house is relatively new you still may have caps on your vents going out the roof that were put on for inspection reasons and could be sucking your trap dry

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