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 Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: jcramer (OH)

To whom it may concern:

I have recently purchased a 1922 home that has almost every system replaced - except for the plumbing beneath the house... which i suspect may be the problem here, but I'm not sure...

The issue is that the traps on all 3 floor drains are drying out and letting sewer gases back up into the living space. I've tried flushing the drains, but it only fixes the issue for a short time. Last night I went to Lowes looking for a cap for the drains. I found a 4" pressure tester cap, but my drains appear to be 3" or perhaps 3.5" (I havent yet measured)

I guess my question is, what is causing this and is it possible to obtain those caps for drains smaller than 4"? Is there a possible leak in the main to the street?

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: e-plumber (NY)

A Plumbing supply house should have a plug to fit the floor drain opening, even if it's a 'fit-all' type of a plug but you'll be defeating the purpose of the floor drains...

For the time being, try pouring a half pint or so of mineral oil into the floor drains, IF evaporation is your problem, the mineral oil will slow down or stop the process.

e-plumber
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"The society which scorns excellence in Plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an
exalted activity will have neither good Plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water." -
John William Gardner 10/8/1912 - 2/16/2002

Repair your leaking Plumbing fixtures ASAP [www.theplumber.com]
This slow drip will waste 7+ gallons of water per day.

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: jcramer (OH)

Thanks for the reply.

Yeah, I should clarify that 2 of the 3 drains are never really put to the test so to speak as I have a dry basement - and I'd much rather have to pull a plug if need be than have to endure the stench. The third is used as overflow and/or condensation release for the furnace, so I couldnt plug that one either way.

What could be the root cause of this? Why is it that when I put water down the drains the odor subsides for a while and then returns, perhaps an hour or 2 later?

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: lefty75 (ID)

poor venting maybe, plugged vent? something pulling the trap seal. Its hard to say without looking at it, its weird that all three do it.

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: jcramer (OH)

That's exactly what I was just told by a plumber buddy of mine, that all three doing it is strange... What makes even less sense to me is why there would be a venting issue as every section of pipe in the basement and above is brand new stuff - seems unlikely there would be a plugged vent.

That said, what could be "pulling" the trap... Does weather come into play for any reason? Could just be my imagination but the smell always seems to coincide with a 'weather event'. Last time it was 2 days of heavy rains - this time its been about 15 degrees since the New Year.

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: redwood (CT)

Do these drains have a trap? When you look down the pipe do you see water standing in the trap?

Many Times I have seen people that have lost the cover to a floor drain that had a bell trap where the cover was an integral part of the trap.



I have also had great difficulty in explaining to a customer that their cleanout was not a floor drain!

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: jcramer (OH)

Thats a good question... Obviously, I am not a plumber - I've been operating under the assumption that all drains had a trap, or at least the typical ones most are. I'm at work right now and can't look for the standing water, but I will at lunch in a couple hours. I can confirm that the drain covers appear original and they do have quite a bit going on underneath them (when you pull them out they have a contraption underneath that could be described as the 'bell' your referring to).

Let me look into it at lunch and get back to you this afternoon.
Thanks for the assistance.

J. Cramer

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: jcramer (OH)

By the way, what do you mean by the 'cleanout'. Are you suggesting that these are not drains?

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: jcramer (OH)

Well, it would appear that 1 of the 3 'drains' is a cleanout as it does have the bell underneath the drain cover. I cleaned out around the seat and re-set the bell down making sure it had total contact to re-create the seal.

I think this 'drain' was the primary culprit out of the 3. The other main drain is def. that as the furnace runs condensation overflow down into it. Looked in that one and do not see standing water - more like dampness and dirt.

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: redwood (CT)

A cleanout is where a drain line has access for snaking a line. Usually there are threads for a cleanout plug to thread into to seal the opening. A cleanout would not have a trap and would be a source of sewer gases if it was open. The bell trap needs to have water blocking the path for gases as shown in the picture I posted above.

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: Wheelchair (IL)

Recently while talking with a tech from JR Smith about bell traps they mentioned a company that makes a check plug for just that application.
It continued to all water to pass thru it but prevented vapor and back flow. I don't have the name of the manufacturer at this moment, but if you are still interested.... please advise.

Best Wishes

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: jcramer (OH)

Thanks for the reply and I most certainly am interested, although I think the problem may have been resolved given the diagram advise from another member. I cleaned out the area where the bell trap sits and filled water in the 'moat' area... Havent smelled anything since and that was Saturday morning... Then again this problem has a funny way of fixing and breaking itself as it sees fit :)

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: redwood (CT)

If it turns out the bell trap was the culprit pour mineral oil into the bell trap to cap the water and slow the evaporation process. The trap will eventually dry out again and lose its seal.

I know what you mean about it fixing itself... Sometimes it literally depends on which way the wind blows.

Have you checked the other drains to see if they had a p-trap or, a working bell trap?



Edited 1 times.

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: jcramer (OH)

I have checked the other 2 and it appears i've got the same situation in all three. The bad news is that the other two dont have bells welded to the bottom of the cover, so... but one of those two is constantly being fed overflow from the furnace. Obvioulsy, never a torrent of water, but must be just enough to keep the gases down?? The third is in a small room that used to be used for coal depository and I can seal off the entire rooom if need be to keep that one at bay...

I'm at the point of wondering if this even meets code and if not - is it grandfathered in? How did I pass inspection 3 months ago?

Also, does the mineral oil float to the top of the water to 'seal' it in?

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: redwood (CT)

In the third room if the drain is not used you could just put a test plug in it.
[www.plumbingsupply.com]

The one by the heating unit you probably want to get a trap on or, somehow find a bell trap cover for it... good luck you'll be scrounging for that one they are not available anymore.

The mineral oil floats on top of the water slowing the evaporation process.

Sometimes home inspectors miss things.... :laugh: sometimes? :laugh:



Edited 1 times.

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: jcramer (OH)

Thanks for the advice, and I look forward to the scavenger hnt for a bell trap...

... yeah imagine that - inspectors missing things :)

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: redwood (CT)

Hey, Where did my drain cover go? I smell poo!:laugh:

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: jcramer (OH)

Man I knew the smell was strong, but I had no idea you;d be able to catcha whiff all the way out wherever in the country you are! :)

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 Re: Sewer stench from basement floor drains
Author: Wheelchair (IL)

Consider a product called "Trap Guard" It is available thru
ProSet Systems

Best Wishes

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