Weird shower smells? It might be a sewer clog.
Call us any time at A1 Sewer & Drain Services for sewer cleaning and sewer repair in NJ, at 201-645-0888.
Several months ago there was a smell that was coming out of my shower, that I was thinking was sewer gas. I cleaned the drain pipes and the drain but the problem is, that smell slowly started coming back over time, even though we are keeping the drain clean and everything else.
So, that took me back to investigatory mode. I’ll let you know what I was able to find out and I was able to take care of the problem. Let’s get to work!
The drain type that we’re working with is a tile shower with a mud pan.
Now, we took this off and went through a whole process on cleaning it out. But with that smell, that sewer smell coming back out of the drain, I had to do some investigating. It was obvious that there was more to it than just the cleaning of the pipe. It’s important to understand what this draining apparatus looks like and how it works.
Basically, all you see is this little plastic thing and this silver tray. But the whole thing put together actually looks like this: There’s three pieces: You have the top that holds the drain. Then you have this centerpiece that actually seals the rubber against this, which is cut into the sub-floor.
It’s really important that you understand how these pieces work together and how I decided where the smell is coming from in this tray.
The first piece that’s installed through the floor. It goes right down and gets pebbled right into the plywood. Now, your drain pipe is hooked to it right here and it’s usually 2 inches for a shower drain.
Now, since concrete base and tilling are porous, which basically means water can soak in and through it, how do they protect that plywood? Well, they cut a piece of rubber and put a rubber base inside the shower and then what they do is they take the second piece of the drain apparatus, slip it over the rubber, locking it into these grooves here.
And what they do is they tighten these four bolts here, which creates a watertight seal from plastic to plastic down to this rubber.
Now, a real important thing to see in this second apparatus here are these holes that are actually built into it. Now, what those holes do, is if the water gets saturated into the base, into the concrete base enough that it builds up on this rubber, when the tile man puts his tile around this little apparatus right here what he does is he puts a little bit of grovel here so that they don’t block these weep holes.
Then the water can soak through the mud pan, into these weep holes and then down back into the drain pipe through the little gap.
Now, all that having been said, what does that have to do with sewer gas smell coming out of your shower? The mud base is hand-laid in there with a slope to it, so that it goes to the drain.
It’s put in something like this. Then the tile is laid right up to the edge, so that you have a nice, flush tile and then of course they grout the tile. Now, what I believe is happening is that moisture is seeping through that tile grout and is being saturated down into this mud base. Eventually it gets down onto the rubber that’s on the bottom and it drips back into the drain pipe.
So what causes a sewer gas smell? Organic material. And what is organic material? Anything that’s living, or that was previously living that’s dead. Such as blood, sweat, skin cells, all of these things. Now, it’s my belief that the smell, the sewer gas smell that I’m getting from my drain-although my drain is working properly, the trap’s holding in water and everything else- is actually the smell from the organic matter that’s dying inside my mud base and then, as the water is running into my drain, it’s drawing that smell through the weep holes and accumulating the smell inside my drain.
Which makes this smell exactly like sewer gas, although I know for a fact that sewer gas is not backing up in this pipe. I’ll show you the solution we found to take care of that.
The first thing I did is I went to my local superstore. And I wanted to find a cleaning product that would kill everything.
I wanted it to kill bacteria, fungus, viruses, just about anything. Well, in going to their cleaning department basically I talked to this fellow who told me that one of the local hospital cleaning people come over every week and they buy this particular product that kills just about every fungus, bacteria, virus under the sun.
I figured if this is what my local hospital uses to kill diseases that could possibly spread inside the shower, this is what I wanted. Because I wanted something to get into that mud pan that was going to kill what was making that funky smell.
Although I’m sure that just cleaning with this product once a week would have eventually taken care of my problem, I realized I had a build-up of nastiness that’s already in this mud pan. So what I wanted to do was come up with something to really soak it and make sure it gets in there and kills all this stuff in the mud pan.
So what I did was, I took the screws out of my cover, I wrapped the backside of my cover with this duct tape, but I’m going to use this to put in as a seal to put it back down the drain temporarily. I punched a couple of holes on that duct tape and put the screws back in.
The next thing I did, was mixing the cleaning product up as the instructions said, with this duct tape in place. I went ahead and filled the majority of my shower pan area and put my mixture in on top of it. Now, it’s not draining down because it’s obviously holding water.
Now, what I did next was really hard to do: I went to bed. I went to sleep and didn’t take this out till the next morning, allowing this fungus-side and everything else to soak into the mud pan to kill anything in there that could be growing and smelling.
It’s been about four months since our initial treatment, where we actually allowed our solution to soak overnight. But with regular weekly cleanings with the same product, where you just rinse it down like you normally do, we have yet to have one day where we had a sewer gas smell coming out of the shower.
I love taking a nice, hot shower. And something about taking that nice, hot shower in a place where it smells like a sewer isn’t something that was quite as attractive to me as it is now. So, I hope this will be the solution to your problem.
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