Sewer gas, as you can guess from its name, is a substance that’s produced in your home’s sewer lines. It’s not actually a single gas but is rather a mixture of several substances including ammonia, methane, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide. Among all of these, hydrogen sulfide is usually what causes the unpleasant smell when you have problems with your plumbing system. This type of gas can be dangerous since it can cause headaches, dizziness, and memory loss and can even lead to respiratory infections like pneumonia.
You’ll most definitely notice sewer gas when it’s in your home because the smell is unpleasant and oftentimes unbearable. However, you don’t really have to wait until your entire house becomes engulfed in bad odors since there are ways to detect this gas before it becomes a full-blown problem. These include:
1. Checking Your Plumbing Fixtures
Make it a habit to inspect your toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and pipes every now and then. Doing this will take only a few minutes but will save you a lot of money and hassle in the future since you can spot plumbing issues at their early stages. When doing your inspection, take a close look at these fixtures and see if they have any leaks. Don’t forget to take a sniff; a whiff of sewer gas — no matter how insignificant it may seem — can actually signal an impending problem and should prompt you to take action ASAP.
2. Taking a Look At Your Drains
Sewer gas commonly enters the house through drains, so make sure to inspect these areas on a regular basis. Check if water flows freely through them or not; a slow-moving drain signals either an isolated clog or a blockage in the main drain line. The former may not cause a lot of problem in terms of odor (though it can make it difficult for you to use that certain drain), but a clogged main sewer line will most likely cause waste water and even raw sewage to back up and stay in your house. These, in turn, can result to the presence of sewer gas in your home. So, if you notice that your drain isn’t functioning properly, fix it using DIY methods (like using a plunger or vinegar and baking soda) or have a plumber repair it for you.
Aside from checking for clogs, you should also find out if your drain’s p-traps are still in good condition. P-traps have a water seal that keeps sewer gas away; if this seal dries up, hydrogen sulfide can freely enter your house and cause havoc.
3. Inspecting Your Vents
The vents in your plumbing system allow sewer gas to escape your house so, if they’re blocked, you’ll most likely notice an unpleasant odor in your home. Check if your vents are in good shape by stuffing them with towels that are soaked in peppermint. If you can smell peppermint in your bathroom or any part of your house, this means that your vents have a blockage and must be fixed ASAP.
Take these steps now to detect sewer gas in your home!