FAQ: We get sewer odors in the basement of our office building. What could be causing this?

Before we discuss what could be causing sewer, sewer gas smells released into a basement, restroom, or any other area of a home or facility can be dangerous.  According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, inhaling very high levels of hydrogen sulfide¾a poisonous gas often found in sewer gas smells¾can lead to loss of consciousness, breathing problems, asphyxiation, and even death.

As to why you have sewer odors in the basement of your office building, there are a variety of reasons why they may be entering a home or business’ basement.  These can range from inadequate ventilation and a moldy or rotting sub-floor to toilets that are not properly sealed to the floor.  As to the toilet, just grab the fixture and slide it from side to side.  If it does not move, this is likely not the problem.  If it does, you may have found the sewer gas smell culprit.

However, very often the cause of this problem is dried out pipes.  And, since you said the sewer gas smells are in the basement, dried pipes may very likely be the cause.  You see, under every drain there is a “P” pipe.  The purpose for this “P” pipe is that as a faucet or floor drain is used, it fills with water.  This water is what blocks sewer odors from escaping into the room, in your case the basement.  But, dried pipes will not have this barrier to prevent sewer odors from escaping.

Steps You Can Take to End Sewer Odors

Fortunately, there are solutions, such as EverPrime, for these issues that we will discuss later in this article.  Before we discuss how to deal with sewer odors, let’s discuss what not to do. 

Many people pour a half cup or more of bleach down floor drains when they detect sewer odors.  Yes, this will likely address the problem and prevent sewer odors, but this is an environmentally unsafe way to handle the situation, especially with dried pipes.  Bleach should always be used with care; there may be chemicals lining the dried pipes that may negatively react with the bleach.  The bleach may cause corrosion in the pipes.  And bleach can also negatively impact waterways once it is released into the sewer.

Here is what you can do to prevent sewer odors and protect dried pipes.  Try to determine which drain(s) the sewer gas smell is coming from.  It is often a floor drain or a sink drain, etc.  Pour about a half cup of water down the problem drain.  Now, ventilate the room for up to 24 hours if possible.  Within that time period, the sewer odors will likely have dissipated and the sewer gas smell stopped.

However, this is a temporary fix.  If this has happened once, it is very likely to happen again.  A more permanent fix is to use a product such as EverPrime, manufactured by Waterless Co.  With EverPrime, first pour about a gallon of water mixed with just three ounces of EverPrime down the problem drains.  Then once again, ventilate the room for about 24 hours.

EverPrime will prevent the “P” pipe from drying out for months.  Using EverPrime is a far more permanent fix and safer on dried pipes.  Further, EverPrime is not impacted by heat or cold weather.

Because you said these sewer odors are in your basement, it is possible that warm weather in the summer or cold/freezing weather in the winter are also contributing to your dried pipes problem.  Product solutions like EverPrime could resolve your sewer odors and dried pipes issue in a safe and effective way.  

For more information on how to reduce water consumption, waterless urinals, and use water more efficiently, please contact a Waterless Co representative.