What do sewer gases smell like? This will be the focus of our discussion.

One thing is sure with sewer gas; it smells awful. This is understandable because such gases come from sewer systems where the decomposition of organic household and industrial waste happens.

Does sewer gases have a characteristic smell?

There are several reasons to ask such a question. Some people might perceive an awful smell around their home or environments but hardly can differentiate what or where such smell is or are coming from.

With the help of this article, you should be able to have an idea of what such smell is.

What Is Sewer Gas?

Sewer gas is comprised of multiple components that include carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and methane. Sustained exposure to large doses of sewer gas is dangerous to your health and shouldn’t be inhaled in large doses.

More importantly, sewer gas isn’t supposed to be readily perceived. When you perceive it, it could be due to problems with your sewage system which has to be checked and fixed immediately.

  • Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide isn’t so toxic. As a matter of fact, it’s what you release or exhales during respiration. This gas is a constituent of sewer gas. The smell you perceive includes this greenhouse gas.

  • Hydrogen Sulfide

The main gas contained in sewer gas is hydrogen sulfide. It has an awful smell and is toxic to your body when inhaled in large amounts.

Hydrogen sulfide will cause severe damage to your organs and could lead to death when inhaled in large amounts.

  • Ammonia

You’ve probably used ammonia in many cleaning chemicals. This compound will cause irritations when exposed to it. Common irritations include throat, eye, and nose irritations. It doesn’t stop at irritating organs.

Sustained exposure at higher levels can result in damage to organs as well as death.

  • Methane

This is an extremely flammable gas. It is fairly non-toxic.

However, it could lead to even bigger problems such as fire hazards when combined with ammonia which is also flammable.

What Sewer Gas Smells Like

Having provided information on the different constituents of this gas, it’s now time to face the main question; what does sewer gas smell like?

Sewer gas can easily be identified through its distinct smell. If you’ve ever perceived the smell of rotten food, combine that with a sulfuric-type smell and you should have an idea of how it smells.

Sewer Gas Causes No Problems When Inhaled In Small Amounts

Sewer gas will pose no problems when you inhale in small amounts as the gases are weak to cause any adverse effects. However, the opposite is true when inhaled in significant amounts.

This is even riskier when such inhalation is sustained as it can lead to organ damage and even death.

Reasons You’re Perceiving Sewer Gas Smell

As stated earlier, sewer gas smell isn’t meant to be perceived easily.

When this happens, it’s due to a problem with your sewer system. Now, there could be many issues such as loose toilets, clogged drains, dry plumbing, leaks, blocked air vents, cracked pipes, and bad wax ring on the toilet.

  • Loose Toilets

Toilets are meant to be firmly attached or fitted to the sewer system. Any loose toilet will readily let out sewer gas through the gaps formed. This results in the leakage of sewer gas which causes the awful smell you perceive.

Any issues you have with loose toilets should be fixed immediately to prevent an escape of this gas back into your home or surroundings. A thorough job should see the toilet tightly fitted back to the sewer pipe.

This should eliminate the sewer odor around your home.

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  • Clogged Drains

Clogged drains mostly result in sewage backup which is unsightly and shouldn’t be allowed to get to this stage.

Clogged drains are mostly caused by flushing the wrong items down your drain. Such items more often than not cause blockages.

When sewage backs up, it results in sewer gas smell which is released from the decomposition of organic matter that has been brought back up.

  • Dry Plumbing

There’s always a water barrier in sewage systems which helps block off the sewer gas coming from the reservoir or tank. Now, when a toilet or drain isn’t used for long, the water gets dried up. What results is a situation where sewer gas gets free passage into your home.

Luckily, fixing this problem isn’t so complex. All you need to do is to open up or flush water down the drain. This should create the water barrier needed to block off escaping sewer gas.

  • Leaks

Leaks in sewage systems are among the common causes of sewer gas smell.

These arise when a proper installation job isn’t done. Leakages may be due to improper pipe placements, or wrong vent positioning, or both.

Sewer gas will easily leak into your home when the vent is wrongly positioned (especially close to windows or other openings.

  • Blocked Air Vents

When your sewer air vents are blocked for whatever reason, it results in the blockage of the natural passageways for such gasses. What happens next is a situation where such gas finds alternative routes such as toilets or anywhere else.

Air vents need to be free to naturally dissipate sewer gases in ways they cannot be perceived easily.

  • Cracked Pipes

Sewer pipes play a vital function in channeling wastes from homes.

Apart from this important function, they help prevent sewer gases from leaking into your home. As such when these are cracked, you’re faced with a problem; sewer gas leakage into your home.

Such pipes must be fixed immediately if you will have the much-needed relief from the awful smell produced by sewer gases.

Symptoms of Sewer Gas Exposure

When exposed to a significant volume of sewer gas, certain symptoms emerge.

Now sustained exposure is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Symptoms will include poor concentration and memory, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and nausea, or vomiting.

Medical help should be sought immediately as delay could worsen the conditions.

Now you know what sewer gas smells like. We’ve also added some information on the causes as well as symptoms you’re likely to experience.