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Smelly Basement Drain

Hello,

We have a smelly floor drain in our basement floor. It smells like it is leaking sewer gas. I have done a little bit of research how to remedy this - pour water down the drain if the water trap is dried up, check the "clean out plug"... I have tried these and I am stumped. I can see water when I look down the drain. I don't see any clean out plug in the side of the drain, my drain just looks like a pipe going in to the floor. I tried feeling around the drain for a spot where a clean out plug would be, but don't feel anything. House was built in 1952 - does anyone have any suggestions? The smell is terrible!! Thank you -

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Posted 2015-04-08T22:47:37+0000  by jtodaro jtodaro
 
You're not likely to find a clean out for a floor drain but there should be a trap under the drain.  Just like a trap under a sink, water keeps sewer gases from coming up.  I'd add a little bleach to the water (1/4 cup per gallon) just to kill any nasties.  It may take a couple of gallons but you should see water standing at the bottom of the pipe.

Try that and report back please.
Posted 2015-04-09T00:44:59+0000  by Adam444
Hi jtodaro!

It is apparent from your statement, that you have several good ideas about solving your problem.

Historically, I have seen drains that are below grade and the sewer backs up into the homeowner's drain line.

In the case of septic systems, higher than normal rain can lead to water levels that prevent the system from properly leaching.

Roots growing into the drain system are another common source of backup.

Treating the odor is a great first step, but looking beyond the drain at the entire system will likely lead you to the source.

Continue treating the symptoms to ensure your home is livable.

But look beyond the house to first find your clean out and then work to verify that the drain is clear.

FINALLY:
If you find that area sewer lines have changed since 1952, the new construction may have adjusted the grade ... making your home lower, relative to the new lines.

If you find this, you may need to consider installing a sump pump to prevent backup.
Posted 2015-04-09T15:20:42+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL

Hi All, thanks for the comments. I tried the bleach and water down the drain and that reduced the smell significantly. It did not get rid of it completely so I think I might try doing it again today. I noticed there was some bubbling or fizzing when I poured the bleach down the drain. Is this normal? Regarding the comment about blockage, we got our main sewer line snaked about a year ago because there was a blockage, so I think the drain is clear. We also had a backup recently because of lint from our laundry tub which caused this smelly drain to overflow. When we found it, there was no longer standing water around the drain, but a lot of debris from the over flow. We called a professional and he snaked the line that was clogged there. Also, I have poured quite a bit of water (few gallons) of water down the drain and the water level doesn't rise, so I'm thinking there is no clog. Thanks again for all the help, ill let you know how the second treatment of bleach water goes!

Posted 2015-04-12T15:36:37+0000  by jtodaro
Hello again jtodaro,

Anytime a drain bubbles or fizzes, that is not normal.

This can be a sign of a simple clog or the beginning of a more extensive problem.

First, you should be able to fix the lint trap on your washer to prevent lint from entering your drain.

Next, think about having all your drains cleaned ... as often as these problems are occurring, your drains will benefit from a thorough cleaning.

Finally, a year is a long time in the life and use of a drain.

If you would like to quit chasing one problem at a time, this thorough approach should eliminate most all in one pass.

If we can assist you further, don't hesitate to follow up in the thread.

Posted 2015-04-16T15:22:01+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL
I wouldn't worry about a little fizzing with the bleach, it's probably just reacting with something.  Make sure you're diluting it in water first, not pouring it in straight.  It may take a couple of applications to kill whatever nasties and then regular applications (maybe monthly) after that.

Drain problems in older homes are common and it can be difficult to pinpoint the source of the trouble.  The only surefire way is to scope the lines.  A plumber can run a camera down an see exactly what's going on, but it is a little expensive.  If you have problems with tree roots getting into the line, then you may need regular maintenance (or replacement).

We have an older home too and have had some troubles with the sewer line.  As Pat said, make sure you're using lint traps for your washing machine.  Never flush anything but toilet paper, including any items that are advertised to be "flushable" like personal wipes or feminine hygiene products.  No cooking grease down the drain either.

You might consider hooking up a garden hose and really flushing the floor drain on a regular basis (1-2 months).  Run the water full blast for 5-10 minutes.
Posted 2015-04-19T12:59:17+0000  by Adam444
After your drains are open, jtodaro, add a few ounces of ZEP Drain Care each month.

This enzymatic product work to remove build up and will not damage drains, toilets, or septic tanks.

Posted 2015-11-05T19:58:59+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL
 
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