Don’t Let Plumbing Smells Be an Uninvited Guest This Thanksgiving
For many of us, thoughts of Thanksgiving evoke memories of delicious aromas wafting through our homes as we gather with friends and family. The scent of turkey roasting and other tantalizing smells signals togetherness, delectable food, and the onset of the festive season. However, when the scents filling your home are less-than-pleasant, particularly those originating from your plumbing, it’s crucial to quickly pinpoint and address the cause to ensure your living environment is both healthy and great smelling!
Plumbing Smells & What They Mean
- Sewage: As organic household waste decomposes, it emits a mix of foul-smelling toxic and nontoxic gasses. Drains typically have a trap to prevent sewer gasses from escaping from the drain into your home. Over time, the water within your traps will evaporate causing the trap to dry out and lose its seal, especially in drains that are not frequently used, such as in a guest bathroom or seasonal home. If a p-trap loses its seal, sewer gas can flow up and out of the drain. Exposure to sewer gas can cause nausea, dizziness, fatigue, memory problems, and general confusion. Experts also warn that sewer gas is highly flammable, increasing the risk of explosion or fire.
- Rotten eggs: A pungent, foul odor resembling rotten eggs or sewage is a red flag that can signal a gas leak. The unpleasant sulfuric smell may indicate an emergency, as a gas leak can result in fire, carbon monoxide poisoning, or other serious illness. If you detect a rotten egg smell in your home, immediately contact your gas company and vacate the house. Don’t reenter your home until the gas company rules out a gas leak.
- Chemicals: Sharp, chemical odors could mean that hazardous materials or substances have been improperly disposed of, or there may be a serious issue with your water supply.
- Musty or wet earth odors: Often indicative of mold or mildew, this scent suggests that there is persistent moisture in areas that should be dry. Mold and mildew most commonly appear in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms where warm, damp conditions encourage growth — such as behind toilets, under sinks, or in poorly ventilated, humid areas. Mold spores can cause serious respiratory and other health problems. Sneezing, coughing, headaches, fatigue, or worsening allergies or asthma, may be signs that you have mold.
How To Avoid Unwanted Plumbing OdorsAs discussed, odors emanating from our home’s plumbing can signal the presence of toxic gasses that can harm the health of your family and may increase the risk of fire, explosion, or asphyxiation. Of course, we’d all prefer to keep our homes safe and odor-free. The following tips will help you avoid, or at least minimize the risk, of unwanted plumbing odors.
- Be mindful of what goes down your drain. Never discard oil, food waste (even in your garbage disposal), or paper products, as these can cause unpleasant smells and may harm your pipes.
- Periodic flushing of your drains with hot water, small amounts of vinegar, and baking soda can keep things moving smoothly. The experts at Prime Plumbing strongly advise against the use of chemical drain cleaners which can severely damage your pipes.
- Conduct regular checks of visible pipes for signs of leaks, condensation, or corrosion.
- An annual inspection by a Prime or other professional plumber can be invaluable for uncovering hidden plumbing issues and preventing future problems.
- If you do smell an unpleasant odor in your drainage system, contact a professional plumber to diagnose and remedy the problem.
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