Sulfur Smell

maverick_007June 7, 2009

Our home is 12 years old and we just recently remodeled it. For the past 3-4 months we've noticed a very strong sulfur/rotten smell coming from 1 of our bathrooms almost daily and our laundry room. Especially if we close all doors to the bathroom at night and then go in that bathroom in the morning. It will knock you out. This is not when the water is running. Does anyone have any ideas? We thought we may have a sewer problem but we don't have any smells coming from the other bathrooms at all. We have a septic tank out front that only appears to have the waste water running to it. The local utility company said since we live out on an island that we have 2 septic tanks, 1 water waste and another one somewhere within 5-6 feet of that one that holds the solid waste. We can only see the top/lid to the water waste. Does this sound logical? and if we find the other tank could it be full and backing up? Any help would be one seems to have any ideas...

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Your water heater has aluminum anodes that are made to deterioate over the years and as they do this they have a chemical reaction to iron sulfate in your water giving off sulfur dioxide(especially if you have a well or extra hard water). This chemical reaction gives off a strong sulfur smell from your hot water. Usually most present in showers, washing machines and dishwashers where large amounts of hot water are used. The telltale clue is the sulfur smell. Normally a septic smell will smell like strong sewage or a very bad bathroom smell.
Sounds like the anodes need to be replaced in your hot water heater. Below is a link to one of my blogs posted on "HubPages" that gives step by step instructions on how to change these anodes out.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to change anodes

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 6:00AM
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I don't think faucetman read your post properly, since you said the smell only occurs in two areas. Chances are you either have a vent stack that's not connected and the sewer fumes are leaking into the wall, or some quirk in the drains is causing the traps in that bathroom and laundry to lose the water in the p-traps that stop the odors coming in.

I would suggest you carefully run water into all the drains in the problem bathroom and laundry last thing at night, and make sure nobody runs any water/flushes elsewhere in the house, then check in the morning. If the smell is still there it's probably a leaking vent (might not have been cemented when your renos were done, assuming some plumbing work was done) or something else is causing the drains to lose their p-trap water. Might be a job for a plumber.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 7:08PM
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I assume the bath was part of the remodel... do you have access to the drain and soil lines under it? If so, it might be worth checking for dips. We had a bad odor in our master bath for several months. Everything in the bath is used regularly, so dry traps wasn't the problem. I eventually went into the crawl space to take a look; I had thought that perhaps the toilet was leaking into the subfloor. That wasn't the problem, but while I was under there, I noticed that a bunch of leftover aluminum fascia that I had thrown into the crawl space last fall was sitting on top of the soil line. There wasn't an obvious dip, but I removed it anyway and then checked to make sure the slope was OK. Then I went into the bath and ran some water through everything connected to the soil line at that point. A few hours later, the smell was gone, and it hasn't returned. Assuming that there was a dip in that line and that stuff was accumulating in it, I'm not sure how the odor was getting back into the room through the traps, but somehow it was managing to do so.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 11:49AM
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Unless there was a joint that wasn't properly glued, I can imagine the deflection in the pipe might have tilted the trap enough to leave water in it, but allow passage of air over the top?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 4:39PM
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Looks like they hit on most of the possibilities.
Something wrong with vent pipe or the air trap.

I will just throw this one out there thou. If you have been reading about all the bad sheetrock from china that was used in florida, and now there is one u.s. manufacturer that has been also busted. One of the tell-tell signs have been a terrible strong sulfur odor. Another sign of substandard sheet rock has been the corrosion of metal fixtures and copper wiring. I only mention this because you mentioned remodel.
best of luck chris

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 6:23PM
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