Author Topic: bad air coming through bath tub drain  (Read 8420 times)

Offline surfivor

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bad air coming through bath tub drain
« on: September 14, 2016, 06:49:40 AM »
 I started having bad air coming through the bath tub drain probably a couple of months ago. I live in kind of a suburb, but am on city sewer. When houses where put in down the street, the builder agreed to put everyone on the city sewer. My neighbor told me I have an unused and disconnected septic system in the backyard someplace. The town I live in is technically a very small city, but I am not near the downtown city area.

 Anyway, because of the smell I have to keep the drain cover on except when I take a shower. When I take a shower, I leave it on until the water fills up and after I am done I let it drain. The water goes down fine. I always keep a screen over the hole when it drains so no hair or anything can go down. A few years ago, the roto rooter guy used a snake to clear it and he said he had a hard time.

 My neighbor said probably the catch is not working, but why would that be ? I live in a slab house which means getting at the pipes could be a problem. I put some enzyme pipe cleaner down there as the guy at the hardware store recommended. But a few times doing that did not help. Someone else told me to use an RV deoderizer which I have not tried yet. The sink in the bathroom does not have this problem, only the tub

 The bathtub is towards the backyard side of the house. In the front yard on the corner of the house is a juniper tree growing right next to the house. This is perhaps 25 feet or so from where the tub is. I would cut the tree completely but it provides shade and I also stick some mushroom logs under there. I prune the tree every year to keep it from getting too big but I don't know if having a tree right next to the house like that is not good ? Should I prune it even more I wonder ? It seems to grow fast even though I pruned it within a year it has grown. Soon I will prune it again

 Any ideas on the drain problem ? Should I be concerned that the pipe has deteriorated ?

 I think the house was built in 1962. I have lived in it for 3.5 years

endurance

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2016, 08:21:58 AM »
Sounds like a bad trap. A trap is a J-shaped section of pipe that's designed to stay full of water to prevent sewer gasses from backing up the drain. If you look under your kitchen sink, you'll see what I'm talking about. Your shower trap is probably cast iron and in the concrete and has rusted out, meaning you've lost that low point or gained a shortcut for gasses as the metals have rusted away.

It's actually a hazardous situation as hydrogen sulfide is toxic and methane is flammable. Odds are you'll have to jackhammer that section of slab out to replace the plumbing. It happens.

Offline surfivor

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2016, 09:10:38 AM »
Quote
It's actually a hazardous situation as hydrogen sulfide is toxic and methane is flammable

 What could cause it to ignite if it's in the pipe ? How much would be in there and wouldn't the entire city sewer system have the same issue - all the pipes running up and down the street ? Perhaps those pipe are connected to the drains where the water drains are on the street

Offline xxdabroxx

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2016, 09:15:47 AM »
The danger would be when it fills a room like your bathroom then you flip on a light switch.  I'd worry more about the toxicity than the flammability.  I agree though, something is wrong with the trap, or it is missing in general.   

Offline I.L.W.

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2016, 09:48:31 AM »
There's another possibility. The trap works like the bubbler you would install in a brewing kit. There's a water barrier that provides a 1-way gas seal. However, just like the bubbler, if the gas pressure exceeds a certain level, it will push the water down and escape the trap. If it's a double-vent trap, that shouldn't be a problem, but if it's just a "J" or "S" shape single vent, this can be a problem. Depends on when the house was built.

The trap in the house only works because the gas in the pipe has a regulated pressure outside the house. If it gets high enough it should blow off further down the municipal line. If that blow-off is flooded due to rains (a common problem with older neighborhoods), it can back up. In extreme cases, it can even pump sewage back up through the drain.

Get a $50 Harbor freight inspection camera. It's a useful tool to have. Then you can see down the drain and figure out what's happening before tearing it up. It's cheaper than having a plumber inspect it, and you can keep the tool. Either way, the problem can be remedied on your end, but the source may be down the line. You won't know until you see what's happening.

Ignoring the dimensions, just look at the designs of traps.

Bad for Showers or low drains:


If the gas here increases in pressure, it can push down 4" of water and bubble up through the vertical end.


Good for showers:


In this design, the gas is vented through the roof (labeled here as the "dry vent") with a vertical pipe before the bend, so it cannot build up the required pressure to pass through the trap. These traps only falter if improperly installed or they've completely disintegrated. Installing a double-vent trap can fix your problem.

It's pretty easy to do yourself, but you'll have to take out the shower, and possibly run a vent pipe through the roof.

Offline surfivor

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2016, 10:32:43 AM »

 Well for now I leave the drain covered so no gases can get in to the house. When I take a shower, I let the tub fill up. After I am done, I let the water drain and put the drain cover back on so very little or hardly any gas gets into the house. If I cover it up immediately practically none would get into the house. The water goes down fine. Hopefully it's just the catch

Offline Carl

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2016, 02:44:53 PM »
The roof vent tube is likely plugged with something as normally it vents bad air and swamp gas developing in the pipes.

Offline Fixit

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2016, 04:48:16 PM »
What Carl said . Check the vent pipe in the roof .

Offline Carl

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2016, 07:06:30 PM »
What Carl said . Check the vent pipe in the roof .

Crap, I am gettin' good at this stuff... :P

Offline never_retreat

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2016, 07:43:53 PM »
First off look down the drain and make sure it is full of water after I sits for a little while. If the water is disappearing it might just be leaking out the bottom if it rusted away.
Even in a slab house there is usually a void in the cement in the area of the tub drain.  So chances are the plumber made the final connections to the drain by reaching through the wall at the drain end before the sheet rock was put up. You may be able to remove some drywall (assuming there is no access panel already) and access the trap.

Offline Sailor

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2016, 05:50:32 AM »
Just had this problem, happens every time this year.  Gurgling noise from tub drain, and sewer gas.   My problem?  My wife only uses the tub in the winter.  All the water in the tube trap has evaporated.  Run the faucet problem solved. 

Could have saved me all that time snaking the drains.  lol. 

Offline bradleypaul75

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2016, 07:03:46 AM »
Does the vent go to the roof?

Some plder homes were built with the vent pipe only into the wall space. You need to investigate the terminal end of the pipe. (it also could be blocked by a birds nest or a dead squirrel...)

Offline surfivor

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2016, 10:20:18 AM »

 There seems to be a vent pipe on the roof, but it is more over the area where the sink is rather than the tub. The sink is 5 or 6 feet from the tub.

Offline Carl

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2016, 05:46:12 PM »
There seems to be a vent pipe on the roof, but it is more over the area where the sink is rather than the tub. The sink is 5 or 6 feet from the tub.

The VENT is for your whole house's plumbing,there is not a vent for every drain,I would say to run water down it from above ,
but you might be looking at the stove or heater vent so that's not a good idea.

Offline surfivor

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2016, 07:43:25 AM »

 The stove is more towards the other side of the house and the furnace is more towards the front door or a bit back from that in the middle of the house. The bathroom is more towards the back on the side. I will have to look at what other pipes I see tomorrow

Offline surfivor

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2016, 06:31:48 AM »

 I was on the roof, the pipe seems long and I can't see into it. I might have to find a strong flashlight, not sure even then. I am not sure if I could put a wire or something down there. It must be 10 feet long or something

Offline Carl

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2016, 06:37:25 AM »
I was on the roof, the pipe seems long and I can't see into it. I might have to find a strong flashlight, not sure even then. I am not sure if I could put a wire or something down there. It must be 10 feet long or something

IF it is the plumbing vent,you can push your water hose ,with water running ,down it to clear almost any obstruction

Richard (richard)

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2016, 07:40:36 AM »
Fill the tub, pull the plug and listen as the last of the water drains. If it makes a gurgling sound that means that the vent is plugged and all the water is being siphoned out of the trap.
This should be corrected immediately, I suggest you call a plumber.

Offline surfivor

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2016, 08:30:58 AM »

 I called the plumber and he said put bleach down the drain and to try that first. I did that and perhaps it helped a little but I have not used the tub since I did that so I will have to see but I just bought a big bottle of bleach. The plumber said t hat residue can build up in the pipes and to try that first

 I also realized that on the other side of the wall inside the closet is a trap door and under that I can see the pipes coming out of the tub. I had forgotten about that but two years ago the roto rooter man had put a snake down in there to clear a clog. There is a large opening that can be opened up using a wrench on a square type plug. I opened it and there is brown colored water in there as I believe it is the catch. I ran a small snake a few feet in both directions but did not see any indications of any gunk in there etc.

Offline xxdabroxx

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2016, 08:57:36 AM »
Does the funky air only come in when it is in use, or at any time?

Offline surfivor

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Re: bad air coming through bath tub drain
« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2016, 09:42:08 AM »
Does the funky air only come in when it is in use, or at any time?

 The bad air was coming in when drain cover is removed from the bathtub drain for a short time. When I opened it and poured some bleach in it seemed not as bad or better but I have to try running several gallons of water through there and see if it is still ok. Perhaps I need to keep adding bleach every time after I take a shower and see if it eventually helps it to clear up