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August 25, 2012

Foul Air Within

DIY: Master Bedroom BathroomBernie Goldbach in Tipperary | Photo Shot Before First Fixing  

I'M LOOKING BACK on photos that document the construction of a new home, trying to figure out where to start investigating a leak.

Foul air is leaking from a home sewage system, under floors and in toilets.  The en suite toilet (shown before it was finished) and the attic air admittance valves don't smell. Part of the investigation centres on a review of pipes as documented in photographs because the home has no blueprints. After spending a half day mucking around (literally opening and spraying high pressure water into the outside access pipes), some of the smell has subsided. This suggests problems with the outside sewage lines.

In the past, we've received helpful advice when I've posted issues on my blog and on Google Plus. If you're a reader with an idea, please drop me a comment wherever you spot this foul blog post.

Links I discovered when asking Google the plumber:

Foul air from improperly sealed toilet pipes

Sewer smell in laundry room

Bernie Goldbach curates DIY links.


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The first thing I'd check are the sewer vents. They look like sewer pipes, 100mm or so in diameter, on the outside of the house with a grill on top, above eave level so that smells are taken away on the wind. Sometimes, they are missing and the same smells will find their way through your drains/toilets. Worth a check.

We live in a home where the architect approved the installation of inside sewer vents. They exhaust into our attic and are capped with fully-functioning air admittance valves. They aren't clogged. We have thought about cutting holes into the roof and exhausting them outside.

My belief was that the in attic vents are to allow air in so there is not a vacuum when you flush the loo. Otherwise you would be venting methane into the attic. extending one through the roof would probably not be too expensive.

It could be a disaster but here's another option. You can get rubber stoppers for the four inch pipes from plumbing supply shops. They cost about 7 euro and have a hose pipe attachment. You could try sealing both ends of one section of pipe and feed in some compressed air. You probably would not need much pressure to be able to hear or feel the air escaping through a crack or bad seal. If you have a gauge on it then you could also see how quickly the pressure drops and find a problematic section.

We've had a plumber in and he was suggesting rubber stoppers. But he also believes there may be problems with the big waste pipes running between floors in the house. There's definitely methane seepage.

Hi, I believe your problem was already sorted but, we just want to let you know that we created a beta website supplier.ie where you can find advice and qualified plumbers in Ireland which can help you with any problem. John

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