How to Get Rid of Sewer Smell From Your Basement

woman plugging nose because of sewer smell
If you’ve been in many basements, you are undoubtedly familiar with the moldy and dusty smell some cellars have. That smell may stop you from getting your Christmas decor out of the storage, prevent you from getting your fishing equipment, or simply disgust you so much that you avoid renovating your basement.
Whatever the situation, there’s no reason your basement can’t smell as clean and fresh as the rest of your house.
You may be asking: What’s the source of that bad sewer smell in the basement? Is there something I can do to get rid of the strange odor?
We at MT Drains and Plumbing always recommend starting by checking your basement plumbing. In most cases, plumbing is the main cause for that distinctive basement drain smell. We offer some DIY suggestions here, but if they don’t work—or you prefer to start with the professionals—please contact us at 905-761-9551.
At MT Drains and Plumbing, we provide both residential and commercial plumbing services in Vaughan, Ontario,and across the Greater Toronto area.Our plumbers will bring over 20 years of experience to you, providing a wide range of plumbing, waterproofing, and drain repair services.

Table of Contents

Five Possible Causes of Sewage Smell in Your Basement and How to Fix It

Having a basement that smells like sewage may be due any of several reasons. Here are the most common ones.

Unused Old Pipes

It is common to find homes afflicted by awful smells in the basement, especially if they contain old sinks or unused tubs. Each drain has traps that prevent sewer gas from slipping away. When a drain is not frequently used, the water inside the traps may evaporate and cause a bad smell.

Luckily, you can solve the problem easily. You can turn on the water in your kitchen or bathroom and pour cooking oil down the pipes. The oil will prevent the water from evaporating and help you get rid of the sewage smell.

Dirty or Greasy Drains

Cleaning and maintaining your drains goes a long way towards preserving a fresh and clean smell in your home. Not cleaning your drains can create a welcoming environment for bacteria and germs.

If it is too late—you forgot to clean your drains on time—and you can barely breathe because of the bad smell in the bathroom or kitchen, pour drain cleaner down the pipes multiple times a day. Do this for a week, and soon, you will hopefully get rid of the awful sewage smell in your basement, kitchen, and bathroom.

Clogged Drain? We Can Help

Check the Clean out Plug

Another possible reason you and your family may smell the bad odor coming from your basement is the lack of a properly installed clean out plug. To ensure that you have a plug installed, look inside your drain (you can use your phone’s flashlight to see better). Take off the top drain’s cover and check carefully to inspect the situation. If there is no plug, it means the sewer gas has been moving down your drains without barriers, such as a water trap.

While the problem may seem complex, there is a simple solution. Go to the local store and buy a new clean out plug. If you can’t install the plug by yourself, call professional plumbers to help you.

Floor Drain

Floor drains have a u-shaped pipe—also known as a P-trap—which creates a barrier and prevents bad smells. If you detect sewer smell in the basement, chances are that your P-trap is dry and needs refreshing.

To solve your basement floor drain problem, you can buy Mr.Clean or another effective cleaning solution that gives off a nice scent. If you don’t have Mr.Clean at home, you can pour a few gallons of water to clean the drains.

If this doesn’t help your problem, check whether there is a pump or ejector pit in the basement. Ideally, you should have two pits in the basement–one with a sump pump and one with an ejector that takes care of wastewater, debris, and dirt.

If you do have an ejector pit, check to see if it is sealed. Some ejector pits receive wastewater from a kitchen, basement bath, and laundry and don’t have a sealed lid strong enough to take care of condensate water. The best way to fix the problem is to get a new ejector pump.

Find an ejector lid with a high-quality seal kit. You will notice that most ejector pits come with two holes–one for vent and one for water discharge. Seal the new ejector by yourself or call professional plumbers to help you install the vent piping to a vent line overhead. While it may be a complex project for you, it surely will not be for a professional plumber who deals with basement floor drains on a daily basis.

Broken (Damaged) Sewer Line

If none of the above seems to be the cause for the unbearable sewer smell in your basement, chances are that you have a broken or damaged sewer line. The best way to diagnose whether a broken sewer line is the problem is to get a leak-tracing dye.

Fill up the bathtub and add some biodegradable tracing dyes to the tub and some to the toilet. Release the water from the tub and start flushing the toilet. If you have a broken sewer line, the dyed water will leech into the soil and come back to the pit.

Unfortunately, you can’t fix a broken sewer line by yourself—you will need help by a professional plumber.

Get Rid of Sewer Smell in Your Basement for Good

If you’ve successfully addressed the source of sewage smell in the basement and solved the problem, that’s excellent. A few other things you can do to improve the smell in your home is to increase air circulation. Open the windows or get dehumidifiers to deal with basement humidity.

If you weren’t able to determine the cause of the problem and are still dealing with bad odor, or if you have had trouble solving the issue, please call us at MT Drains & Plumbing and we will come out and be your basement-odor detectives!

It is frustrating to deal with a bad drain odor or awful basement smell. The good news is that you don’t have to suffer anymore. Call the expert plumbers, and solve your sewer smell in basement for good. Our plumbers from MT Drains and Plumbing can save you time and money from buying unnecessary cleaning products or equipment.

If you live in Vaughn, Ontario, or in the Greater Toronto Area, please call us at (905) 761-5551 or request a free quote on our website.

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Paul S

Paul has more then 20 years in basement waterproofing and plumbing projects experience. Looking for an advice from an expert plumber? Make sure to read Paul's articles about residential waterproofing and plumbing projects in Toronto.

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