Close up shot of water splasing against a ledge

Can You Smell Sewage if it Rains?

Some homeowners can smell a strong sewage odor whenever it rains, and this can be a source of concern. Aside from the foul odor, you can start to worry about the state of your plumbing, and the problem doesn’t seem to go away as time passes. If this situation sounds familiar, it’s important to relax, there are a number of possible causes, and they can all be fixed by your local professional plumber.

A Bacterial Backup

The sewer system is designed to remove waste from your home, and this can include some nasty materials, such as soap scum, human waste, organic waste, stuff that’s washed into the sink, and dirty water. These materials are bad enough in isolation, but when they are mixed together in your drain, they make an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. The foul odor may be the least of your problems because this can be a toxic gas that can affect your health and wellbeing. Most modern homes have a sewer trap; this is a u-shaped part where the wastewater is located, and it acts as a water-tight seal. Essentially, this is the barrier between the sewer gases and your home. If the u-shaped trap is compromised due to a break or it has failed due to age, it will allow sewer gas to enter your home. A professional plumber can inspect this part and change it to rectify this problem in next to no time.

Septic Tank Issues

If the waste from your home is directed to a septic tank located on your property, there could be other causes of a foul odor. A strong odor after rainfall could indicate that the septic tank is beginning to fail and it needs a replacement. When the rain falls, it soaks the ground at the lowest point around your property, and this is usually the bottom of a septic tank. So, if you have a septic tank leak or a break in a connected pipe, it will cause the sewer gas to be forced to the surface where you can smell it.

P-Trap Problems

If you have a home with sinks, tubs, and showers that are infrequently used, you can experience foul odors when it rains. A p-trap is a plumbing fixture where water is held to act as a barrier against sewer gases that can be lurking in underused drain lines. When plumbing fixtures are not in regular use, the p-trap can dry out, and fixing this problem is easy. Simply run the water in those locations from time to time, and you can ensure that the water barrier is maintained.

Clogged Drains and Cracked Pipes

In many cases, a plumber will be called to a home where sewage odors have been reported, and the cause is a clogged drain or cracked pipe. The most common cause is a tree root intrusion under the yard which has created a clog, crack, or even a collapsed pipe. This can lead to a release of sewer gas back into the home and if can even cause a sewer backup. A simple drain clog is easier to deal with, and in many cases, it can be cleared with a cup plunger or a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar. But, a more persistent clog is harder to remove without a camera inspection and/or specialized tools.

If you’re worried about a sewer odor in your home, contact your local certified plumber today.