Plumbing in the Home/Bad smell in house

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QUESTION: Hello. We've had a really strong smell in our house ever since a plumber came and installed a new toilet. It literally smells like feces in our house! We live above an old shop and I can also smell it very strongly down in the shop as well. The smell is driving us nuts and with the holidays coming, I do not dare to have company over when our house smells like poop. PLEASE HELP. Thanks in advance!

~Allison

ANSWER: Allison, I answered your question but apparently the server dumped it because of some type of error. I apologize and will try again.

The issue you have is sewer gas is escaping from your piping system before it can be vented to the outside. Have your plumber come back and check the wax seal if the smell is the strongest in the bathroom. Since you are noticing the smell in other parts of the building, it suggests a crack in the piping or perhaps the trap seals are dried up. All traps have a certain level of water in them to stop gas and smells from escaping, be sure to pour water in all floor drains and fixtures that are seldom used. As for cracks, cast iron pipe is notorious for splitting when the are old and especially on horizontal runs. Take a mirror and a flashlight and check all exposed piping for splits and cracks in all exposed pipe. It is very possible to have a split pipe and no water leaking out to indicate trouble. If you find a split or crack, obviously it will need to be replaced, a little duct tape will get you by and stop the odors until you get it repaired, wrap it tightly. Sewer gas contains high concentrations of methane gas and is not only a nuisance it is dangerous. I would call the plumber back and have him/her investigate to origin of the smell. It is also possible a pipe joint has separated in the vent piping and allowing gas to be released into the building.

J

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks you for all of the detailed advice, Jay. We requested that the plumber put a new wax seal when he installed the toilet. Could it possibly require two seals? We never had any smell before the plumber came, although, I suppose it could be coincidental that it started happening afterwards. The smell isn't present all the time...it comes and goes. I noticed the other day, after having to shut the bathroom door for an extended period of time, that the smell inside the bathroom was very strong once I opened the door back up, but we can smell the odor throughout our home. We didn't watch the plumber install the toilet, but I'm assuming he put a new wax seal as we requested that. We do have carpeting in the bathroom and it appears there's a few layers of flooring because the plumber had to tear part of the carpet away when he installed the toilet which left an opening to view the lovely old flooring below, LOL. I'm just wondering why I can smell the same odor downstairs in the back room of the shop that we live above if it were the wax seal.

ANSWER: Allison,
Toilets are bolted down to the floor  to a closet flange. This flange is screwed to the floor thus giving you a solid connection to the drain pipe. The wax ring or seal separates the flange from the toilet. Properly installed, the flange is set on the finished floor. Over time, people replace floors and just cut around the flange thereby lowering the flange below the newly replaced floor. Now when the toilet is set, the wax seal has to cover a larger gap. The water from the toilet flush will usually pass through with no leakage but if the gap is too great, the seal is not made between the toilet and the flange and sewer gases and smells are allowed to enter the room and often times get in between the floor and ceiling below or basement below. This is how the smells permeate throughout the home and are not just localized in the bathroom. Ok.. with all that being said(I'm rather talkative this morning!)a double seal is one possible way to fix this. They also market extra thick wax seals. I often times use a foam rubber seal instead of wax because the rubber will flex  back when compressed whereas the wax flattens and stays flat and will often squish out when one wax isn't enough and a double is too much. It is my opinion that your toilet has to be pulled and reset using the proper seal and thickness.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Jay,

Thank you so much for all of your input and advice. I'm sort of afraid to tell the plumber about your suggestions, LOL. He gets a little grumpy. He's the one that installed our toilet recently so it concerns me that he didn't know to double up the wax seal or use the foam rubber seal due to the flooring around the toilet.

Answer
Your welcome, Allison. If he cares about his customers and his reputation, he will make this right.
Again, sorry  for the late response. I am not getting my emails from all experts for some unknown reason. They send a reminder if the question is not answered in an allotted time, that's how I knew of your follow up.
Happy Holidays

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Jay Nicholas

Expertise

Plumbing & Heating (warm air, hot water & steam heat)

Experience

40 years in the business, 35 years as a lic. master plumber in NY State. Retired

Education/Credentials
Graduated Magna cum laude at the School of Hard Knocks

Past/Present Clients
Commercial, residential and light industrial. You name it ...I have probably worked on it

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