Household sewer pipelines are generally made of either PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) or ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) hard plastic and, though tough and durable, may crack if accidentally knocked. Other waste spillage problems, such as broken P-traps and damaged closet flanges, must also be addressed. As sewer waste is a health hazard, all signs of spillage should be quickly dealt with.
Sewer Gas Smell
Sewer spillage is usually accompanied with an unpleasant smell that will build up in the home within close proximity to the pipe break. Close all doors to isolate the smell as much as possible, and pour water into each sink drain hole to make sure the home's P-traps have not run dry. P-traps have a U-shaped bend that stores water to stop sewer gasses from entering back up the pipeline into the room.
Look under each sink on the floor for damp patches, and run your hands (wear work gloves) around the sides and bottom of each P-trap's bend to make sure the trap has not cracked and is spilling sewage water. Though PVC and ABS P-traps are quite durable, chrome-plated traps can sometimes break if accidentally knocked.
Toilet Closet Flange
A closet flange is the first section of a toilet's sewer line. It is bolted or screwed to the floor and connects to the toilet with a vertical bolt on each side of the toilet bowl (a wax ring is positioned between the bowl and flange). If the flange's lip that holds the bolts in place breaks, the toilet is no longer stable. This results in both a rocking toilet when sat on, and also possible sewer leakage between the top of the flange and bottom of the bowl. Look for sewer waste or water spillage on the floor around the base of the toilet.
Cracked Sewer Pipes
Enter the home's cellar or buildup area, and look for damp patches on the ground under the pipes. In a closed-off area like a cellar, the spillage will probably be accompanied with an odor. Run your hands along the sides and bottom of the pipe where the damp patch exists to find any cracks in the sewer pipe. Mark the pipe with a piece of duct tape so that the broken area can easily be later found and repaired.
- "Home Improvement 1-2-3"; Benjamin W. Allen, Christopher Cavanaugh; 1995
- Ask The Builder: Sewer Gas Smell
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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