Why Your Toilet Has A Sewage Smell and How to Remove It - Toilet Haven (2022)

Last Updated on January 10, 2022 by toilethaven

Why Does My Toilet Smell Like Urine/Sewage?

There are 2 barriers that prevent your toilet from emitting a foul sewage smell. The first one is the toilet wax ring and the second is the water at the bottom of the bowl.

A toilet wax ring is a a round piece of molded wax that is sandwiched between the bottom of the toilet and the top of the closet flange. A properly sealing wax ring is both watertight and airtight.

If your toilet is smelling like sewage, it is highly likely that the wax ring is not sealing therefore allowing sewer gases and wastewater to leak through it. It could also be caused by a clogged vent stack, meaning that sewer gases have nowhere to exit the drain line.

When you toilet is smelling like urine, the wax ring could be failing to seal around the toilet allowing urine to leak through it. In some instances, it could be caused by male members of the family especially young boys who miss the target while peeing. When the pee trapped under the seat dries, it smells horribly.

Replacing your toilet wax ring or unclogging a blocked vent stack/drainpipe will most of the time remove the bad smell from your toilet. Make sure also that the water level in the bowl is properly adjusted.

In a proper functioning toilet drain, the sewer gases are supposed to escape through the vent stack which runs out through the roof of the house. If either the drainpipe or vent stack are clogged, the sewer gases will build up inside these pipes.

When you flush the toilet, the waste displaces the sewer gases which are forced to break the water barrier at the bottom of the bowl and hence the bubbling/gurgling.

A clogged toilet drainpipe should be unclogged as soon as possible to prevent a backup. That will be a tougher and expensive repair.

(Video) How to Get Rid of Sewer Smell or Bad Smell in Your Bathroom

The following are some of the signs that you have a clog inyour drainage resulting in a toilet or bathroom that smells like a sewer:

1. Toilet Bubbles When Flushed

At the bottom of the toilet bowl, there is always a constantamount of water. This is possible because of the toilet’s P trap which isU-shaped.

This water prevents sewer gases from coming up into yourbathroom and entire house. Instead, the sewer gases move out through the ventstuck.

If the vent stuck is has a blockade, the sewer gases will pile up inside the stuck and when the pressure is more than the toilet P-trap water can contain, it starts escaping through the water inform of bubbles and you might hear a gurgling sound.

A clogged toilet drainpipe means waste cannot flow down tothe city sewer lines. As a result, toilet waste and sewer gases will pile upinside the drainpipe and eventually be forced out of the P-trap which lead intoyour toilet and bathroom smelling of sewer gases.

2. Bathtub DrainsGurgles When The Toilet is Flushed

Sometimes it is not only the toilet’s drain that is cloggedbut rather the main house drainpipe. The toilet and bathtub drain are connectedto the main house drain.

If this is the case, waste will not be flowing out of yourhouse but will pile up in the drain. Unlike a toilet bowl which has water atthe bottom to contain sewer gases, your bathtub drain doesn’t.

As a result, all the sewer gases in the drainage system willescape through the bathtub drain, often with a gurgling sound. The entire bathroomwill therefore smell of sewer gases.

3. Toilet Gurgles when the Bathtub Drains

When your toilet bubbles when the bathtub drains, it meansthe house’s main drainpipe is clogged and waste cannot flow out.

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A bathtub holds a large amount of water and when it drainsthe water displaces the sewer gases trapped in the drainpipes which are forcedto escape through the toilet bowl. Because of the water at the bottom of thetoilet, the toilet will be bubbling/gurgling as the sewer gases come up to thebathroom.

4. Toilet on a Septic Tank Smells like Sewer Gas

If a toilet connected to a septic tank smells like sewergas, it means the septic tank is either full or the drainpipe to the septic isclogged. Sewer gases are therefore trapped in the system under pressure andafter sometime overcome the water barrier at the bottom of the toilet whichwill be manifested as bubbling/gurgling when the toilet is flushed.

How Do I Get Rid of the Smell in My Toilet?

If your toilet smells like sewer gas or urine, you can get rid of the odor all by yourself but if you run out of success you can always call in a plumber.

The method to use will depend on whether the problem is a wax ring that is not sealing or a clogged drainpipe/vent stack. Let us starts with unclogging a drainpipe or vent stack.

1. Plunge the Toilet

Why Your Toilet Has A Sewage Smell and How to Remove It - Toilet Haven (1)

A toilet plunger is a rubber cup with a stick handle that isused to unclog a toilet. It dislodges clogs by creating a pressure differentialthat forces the clog to either be pushed further in the drain or sucked intothe bowl.

Pick a good toilet plunger that will form a good seal aroundthe toilet drain opening. For the first plunge, do it slowly with a smallopening at the plunger to remove all the air hence creating a vacuum.

After the first plunge you can then plunge more aggressivelyand hopefully the clog will be dislodged.

2. Snake the Toilet with an auger

Why Your Toilet Has A Sewage Smell and How to Remove It - Toilet Haven (2)

A toilet auger is a long cable with a cranking handle and ahead which is also used to unclog toilets that cannot be unclogged with aplunger.

Unlike a plunger, the auger is inserted all the way inside the toilet through the P-trap and into the drainpipe where it acts on the clog directly. It will either shred the clog into pieces which flow down easily or it will pull them out.

(Video) How Long Will This BAD Sewer Smell Last?

Using a toilet auger can be a little difficult especially the first time. Read more on how to use it in this post.

3. Check and Unclog the Vent Stack

The vent stack is vertical pipe that runs from the toilet drainpipe to the roof of your house to discharge sewer gases. If it is clogged up, the gases will have no way of going out and will be forced to escape through your toilet, bathtub drain or any other house drain leaving behind a sewer smell.

To unclog the vent stack, climb to the top of your roof using a ladder and armed with a garden hose. Try to see if you can use your hands to remove out the clogs. Most of the time it is a bird’s nest, dried leaves, dead rodents or birds at the top of the vent.

If that’s not possible, use the hose to pour water down the vent. The water will unclog the vent and wash down the clog.

Sometimes you will need to use a plumber’s snake to unclog a vent stack if the clog won’t just come out.

4. Call a Plumber

When all of the above fails, call in a professional plumber.A plumber is without a doubt more experience and has more sophisticated toolsand equipment.

It will be expensive to use the services of a plumber but atoilet is such an important facility to compromise on. If the problem is notfixed in good time, a backup will be bound to happen.

A backup happens when the house’s drains are clogged and the sewage starts to flow back through the toilet, bathtub drain, kitchen drain or any other drain in the house.

5. Replace the Toilet Wax Ring

Why Your Toilet Has A Sewage Smell and How to Remove It - Toilet Haven (3)

Materials Needed

  • New wax ring
  • New toilet bolts (optional)
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Putty knife
  • Newspapers
  • Rubber gloves
  • Old rag/towel
  • Mini-hacksaw (optional)
  • Sponge
  • Empty bucket

How to Replace a Wax Ring:

(Video) bathroom smells like sewer gas

Step 1: Turn off Water to the Toilet

Look for the shut off valve located at the back side of thetoilet on the left-hand side. Turn it clockwise. If you have a push/pull valve pullit outwards.

Step 2: Drain the Toilet

  • Flush the toilet and hold the lever down toremove as much water as possible.
  • Remove the toilet lid and place it away in a safeplace.
  • Use the sponge to soak the water at the bottomof the toilet tank and squeeze out in the bucket
  • Utilize the same sponge to also dry out thewater at the bottom of the toilet bowl. Make sure you have your gloves on.
  • Disconnect the water supply line from the toilettank.

Step 3: Remove the Toilet

Why Your Toilet Has A Sewage Smell and How to Remove It - Toilet Haven (4)
  • On each side of the toilet you will find two bolts, sometimes covered with plastic caps. Remove the caps and loosen the toilet bolts using the wrench.
  • Sometimes the bolts and nuts are corroded and won’t just come off. Use the mini-hacksaw to cut off the nut being careful not to cut the toilet body.
  • Hold the toilet by the bowl, rock it about to break the wax ring seal then lift it off.
  • Place the toilet on its side on top of the newspapers.
  • Plug off the toilet drainpipe with the old rag/towel to keep sewer gases at bay.
  • Remove the old wax ring and trash it. Wax rings cannot be reused.
  • Using your putty knife scrape off old wax from the top of the toilet flange and the toilet outlet.
  • Check the condition of the flange too. If it is broken it will need to be replaced. Replacing a toilet flange is easy especially with the toilet is already removed.

Step 4: Replace the Wax Ring

Why Your Toilet Has A Sewage Smell and How to Remove It - Toilet Haven (5)
  • Slide the wax ring gently into the toilet outletbeing careful not to deform it. An easier way to do it is to leave the wax ringoutside in the sun for a while or dip in warm water for a few minutes. Thishelps it slide in easily.
  • An alternative to using a wax ring is installinga rubber gasket seal. The rubber gasket is not as messy as a wax ring and worksas fine if not better.
  • Slot in the toilet bolts and washers in thetoilet flange.
  • Remove the rag/towel from the drainpipe.

Step 5: Install the Toilet

  • Lift the toilet and align the two holes on its base to the two bolts. Once aligned, lower it down gently. A toilet is heavy and controlling its weight and aligning with bolts is not an easy task. Have someone help you with this detail.
  • Push the toilet down gently to engage the wax ring fully.
  • Slot in washers and nuts in each bolt and tighten with the wrench alternatingly. You are advised to tighten the bolts alternatingly to keep the toilet level. Don’t however tighten too much to avoid cracking the bowl.
  • If the bolts are protruding out too much cut the off with a hacksaw and cap them off.
  • Connect the water supply line to the toilet tank and turn on the water.
  • Place the toilet lid back on.

And that is how to fix a toilet that smells of urineand/sewer gases. If you however encounter challenges anywhere while fixing itplease feel free to call in a plumber.

Should You Caulking Around your Toilet?

Why Your Toilet Has A Sewage Smell and How to Remove It - Toilet Haven (6)

To caulk or not to caulk around your toilet is one area evenplumbers don’t agree on. Those who oppose it says it is easier to notice when yourtoilet is leaking.

Should you caulk around tour toilet then? The best way to goabout it is to caulk around the toilet and only leave a small opening at theback of the toilet. This way you can notice any toilet leaks and it is alreadyhard to caulk the back of the toilet in any way.

A caulked toilet is easier to clean and also prevents the toilet from rocking/wobbling. If a toilet is not caulked, spilled urine will flow and dry up from below the toilet leaving a foul smell. This is even worse when the toilet has been shimmed. Find more on this topic here.

Conclusion

A toilet that smells like sewer gases or urine can greatlycompromise the joy of being at home. Home is the one place you go to relaxafter a long day at work. If it however turns out to be a place where sewer gasand urine smells reign strong, it stops being a home.

FAQs

  1. Why does my toilet smell even after cleaning it?

Two things: The toilet wax ring might not be sealing properly which means sewer gases are coming out to your bathroom or the toilet drain/vent stuck are clogged making the sewer gases backup through your toilet or bathtub drain.

2. Why does my Toilet P-trap smell?

A toilet P-trap is the U-shaped part at the bottom of thetoilet. It retains a little amount of water which prevents sewer gases fromcoming up to the bathroom. If the toilet drainpipe is clogged, sewer gases willforce their way through the P-trap and you might notice your toiletbubbling/gurgling.

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If the toilet has not been used for a while, the water can also dry up. Sewer gases will hence start moving up to your bathroom through the P-trap resulting into a foul smell.

3. Why does my toilet smell like rotten eggs?

A rotten egg smell in a toilet is an indicative sigh of the presence of hydrogen sulfide. The hydrogen sulfide gas is as a result of bacteria growing in drains. A clogged toilet drainpipe is therefore a perfect environment for the bacteria to multiply and hence the smell of rotten eggs.

FAQs

How do you get rid of sewer smell in toilet? ›

The trusty non-toxic combo of baking soda and vinegar can clean drains naturally. Add one cup of baking soda to the clogged toilet or slow drain, then wait a few minutes. Follow with two cups of vinegar. Listen for bubbling and sizzling noises to indicate that the mixture is working.

What causes a toilet to smell like sewer? ›

Common Causes of Sewer Smell in House

evaporation of water in the P-trap piping. broken seal around the toilet in the wax ring or the caulk. A burst pipe.

What kills the smell of sewage? ›

Fill a plastic spray bottle with undiluted white vinegar, and use it to neutralize raw sewage odors in your home. Hold your spray bottle 6 inches away from your furniture, and spritz to reduce sewage smells and other odors. In addition, mist hard surfaces in the same way to get rid of odors.

Can sewer smell harm you? ›

This gas smells like rotten eggs, even at extremely low concentrations. Exposure to high concentrations can interfere with the sense of smell, making this warning signal unreliable. At extremely high levels, hydrogen sulfide can cause immediate loss of consciousness and death.

Why does my toilet smell like rotten eggs? ›

In technical terms, sewer gases are the result of the “breakdown of human waste and are made up of a mixture of gases including hydrogen sulfide and ammonia.”1 The rotten egg smell coming from your toilet is telling you that a part of your plumbing line is not functioning properly, and you should listen.

How do I stop my bathroom drain from smelling? ›

A baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water combo can add extra power for breaking up the buildup in your drain's pipes. Periodically adding baking soda down your drain can keep the sink fresh and odor-free. Changing the filters eliminates the bad smells from a contaminated water softener.

Will bleach get rid of sewer smell? ›

Pour Some Bleach in It: Bleach, like other disinfectants, kills almost every species of odor-causing bacteria commonly found in drains and sewer lines. So, an easy DIY step to reduce drain odor is to use bleach.

Does vinegar help with sewer smell? ›

You can also add a mixture of baking soda and vinegar along with hot water to help get rid of the odor. Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain followed by one cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture sit for about 10 to 15 mins and flush with hot water. After this you should have an odorless clean drain!

Why does my bathroom smell like sewer at night? ›

Why does my house smell like sewer at night? Some of the top reasons for sewer smell at night may be due to a broken drainage pipe, a cracked vent stack, a clog, a problem with your septic tank, and many more.

Why does sewer smell come and go? ›

Clogged drains

One of the most common causes of sewage smells is a clogged drain. When your home's wastewater has nowhere to go, the odors will come back up the drain they should be going down.

How do you know if you have a sewer leak? ›

One of the most telltale signs of a sewage leak is an unpleasant odor. If your have sewer issues, you may notice the actual smell of sewage. This is usually found in the basement, but can also be present outside. Also pay attention to smells coming from walls.

How do you clean the inside of a toilet tank? ›

Turn off the toilet's water valve, usually located near the floor. Flush the toilet again to completely drain the water from the tank. Using a scrub brush, clean the inside of the tank's walls to eliminate gunk and buildup. Wipe down the metal parts with a sponge to remove any rust.

Why does my toilet smell? ›

Even the cleanest homeowners occasionally encounter this toilet problem – an obnoxious odour that leaves you asking, “why does my toilet smell?” These toilet smells can come from an unused toilet, bacteria, mold, clogged drain, broken toilet seals, blocked vent pipe or cracked toilet bowls.

How do you stop sewer gas? ›

To protect yourself from a leakage of gas from the pipes, toilets should always be tightly fitted to the sewer lines. A loose toilet can cause a gap in the pipes and lead to a leakage of sewer gas into your home.

How do I stop my bathroom from smelling like my septic? ›

How do you get rid of a sewer smell? Pouring hot water mixed with vinegar and baking soda down your smelly drains is an effective way to get rid of the sewer smell. Leave the mixture for about 10 to 15 minutes before running any water through the pipes.

Why does sewer smell come and go? ›

Clogged drains

One of the most common causes of sewage smells is a clogged drain. When your home's wastewater has nowhere to go, the odors will come back up the drain they should be going down.

Why does my bathroom smell like sewer at night? ›

Why does my house smell like sewer at night? Some of the top reasons for sewer smell at night may be due to a broken drainage pipe, a cracked vent stack, a clog, a problem with your septic tank, and many more.

Why does my toilet smell? ›

Even the cleanest homeowners occasionally encounter this toilet problem – an obnoxious odour that leaves you asking, “why does my toilet smell?” These toilet smells can come from an unused toilet, bacteria, mold, clogged drain, broken toilet seals, blocked vent pipe or cracked toilet bowls.

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