another what is that smell?

the setting: my own house of thirteen years. the intent: find a solution for our own problem and have this knowledge for future home inspections.


I built this home and did not leave access to the floor beneath a bathroom (we have a crawlspace) so I cannot go down and discover what’s up. Periodically, about once a week, the bathroom gets a smell of, er…trying to think of a good way to say this…<whispers> a womans ‘time of the month odor’. My two grown daughters (who do not live here) and my wife are the main complainers who bring it up. There is nobody living here who has <whispers> 'times of the month things> any more. If a critter died and rotted that would reek for a time and then be gone…not show up every week or so.
Solution attempts:
I have removed the toilet and installed new wax ring thinking there may be a undiscernable yet odorous leak…nope
I have poured bleach down the little used shower drain thinking maybe the trap dried out and sewer gas is the culprit…nope
We have done a major cleanout of the jet system in the whirlpool tub…nope
Set up fans to super ventilate the crawl space…nope

always comes back everyweek or so. I submit this because someone, somewhere, has had the same problem and found the solution

mike in MN

Figure a way to gain access and address what could develop into a really nasty problem

When you had your toilet off to replace the wax ring did you notice how the flange was mounted flush or below the finished surface?

Ihad to use a double wax ring(no filler) to fix one I had that when the top of the toilet flange was too far below the finished floor level.

Get on your knees and sniff around the toilet base and make sure the toilet is rock solid and cannot be wiggled.

I also recommend putting mineral oil in the unused shower and tub to prevent evaporation.

It is also possible the the venting on the tub or shower is not quite right and the trap seal is being sucked out by other passing drain water allowing sewer gas to enter the home.

Good luck.

I agree with Mike, I would suspect a trap being siphoned periodically. You may need access to the crawl or the wall to verify proper venting pipe installation. To begin with when the smell appears, shut the door and seal the bottom then turn on the exhaust fan. That will draw air in from any open trap if there is one and you can narrow down the source. You may also check the vent at the roof, is it clogged? Once a week makes me suspect a laundry drain somehow related.

good input as usual. flange was on top of the floor …I am going to try the mineral oil idea, or perhaps air tight seal since we rarely use it…there is inadequate venting (only a 1 1/2 pipe for the entire system) so I believe this may be the prime suspect though I don’t know why it would happen only off and on. thanks for the input
mike in MN

Had a similar situation where an odor was coming from the tub in a hall bath. The culprit is old soap scum, hair clogs, etc. emitting a very offensive odor. Bleach will NOT do the job. I used baking soda and white vinegar to dissolve the mess and then ran a garden hose into the bath down the hall. Full blast it dislodged whatever was causing the problem and have not had it since. It took several applications of the baking soda and vinegar (dollar store brand works just fine, not need for designer brands). Don’t scrimp but allow it to work for some time before flushing. Tub traps are notorious for clogging and are inherently built with tight turns that can trap or accumulate “plumbing boogers”.

BTW, keep your mouth closed when you blast it with the hose. Some of the stuff that comes back will gag a maggot. I have never used that tub but got the joy of cleaning it out.

Was the wind from the West on those particular days??? :twisted:

Just kidding Fargo! :mrgreen: