Why Does Your Basement Smells Like Sewage? (Common Causes and Solutions)

A foul odor in your home can be both unpleasant and concerning.

Homeowners may wonder why their basement smells like sewage and what can be done to eliminate the odor.

In this article, we will explore the answer to the question “Why does your basement smell like sewage?” and provide insight into effective strategies for identifying and resolving the issue.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the source of the sewage smell is crucial to finding a solution
  • There are both professional and DIY solutions available depending on the cause of the smell
  • Taking preventative measures can help avoid the issue from occurring in the future.

See Also: How Much Does It Cost To Add A Basement To A Mobile Home?

Understanding the Smell

If you’ve noticed that your basement smells like sewage, it’s important to understand what’s causing the smell.

Sewer gas is a common culprit, and it can be harmful to your health.

Sewer gas is a mixture of gases that can include hydrogen sulfide, methane, and other gases.

Hydrogen sulfide is the gas that gives off the rotten egg smell that is often associated with sewer smells.

Health Implications

Exposure to sewer gas can have negative health effects.

Some of the symptoms of exposure to sewer gases include headaches, dizziness, irritability, and fatigue. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to take action to eliminate the source of the smell.

In addition to these symptoms, long-term exposure to sewer gases can have more serious health implications.

For example, exposure to hydrogen sulfide can cause respiratory problems, including bronchitis and pneumonia. It can also cause eye irritation, nausea, and vomiting.

Methane, another gas that can be present in sewer gases, is also a health hazard. It is flammable and can cause explosions if it builds up to high levels.

To protect your health, it’s important to take action if you notice a sewage smell in your basement.

This may involve hiring a professional to identify and fix the problem. In some cases, you may need to install a ventilation system or make other changes to your home to eliminate the source of the smell.

If you are experiencing symptoms related to exposure to sewer gases, it’s important to seek medical attention. Your doctor can help you determine the cause of your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment.

Health ConcernsSymptoms
HeadachesPain in the head
DizzinessFeeling lightheaded or unsteady
IrritabilityFeeling easily annoyed or agitated
FatigueFeeling tired or exhausted

FIVE Common Sewage Smell Causes

If your basement smells like sewage, it could be due to a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most common causes:

Dried-out Plumbing PipesIf your basement smells like sewage, it is likely due to dried-out plumbing pipes. Water in any trap under unused drains will eventually evaporate, allowing sewer gas to come up through the drain into the room.
Clogged Floor DrainA clogged floor drain is a common reason for a basement to smell like a sewer. Debris can become lodged in the U-shaped trap within the drain, leading to a build-up of sewer smell.
Broken Wax RingIf you have a basement bathroom, a broken wax ring can cause a sewer smell. The wax ring seals the base of the toilet to the floor, and if it is damaged, sewer gas can escape.
Missing Cleanout PlugA missing cleanout plug in a basement floor drain can also cause a sewer smell. The cleanout plug is designed to seal the drain and prevent sewer gas from escaping.
Clogged VentsIf your plumbing vents become clogged, it can cause sewer gas to build up in your pipes and escape through your basement drains.

It’s important to address a stinky sewer-y basement promptly. Sewer gas odors are not only unpleasant, but they can also be dangerous. Sewer gas is flammable and can cause health problems, including eye and lung irritation, seizures, coma, and even death if exposed to these gases for a prolonged time.

To prevent basement smells like sewage, consider pouring a gallon of water down unused drains to refill the trap and prevent evaporation. You can also try running hot water down the drain to help break down any build-up. If these measures don’t work, it’s best to call in sewer cleaning services to inspect and clean your pipes.

FOUR Reasons To Seek Professional Assistance

If you have tried all the DIY methods to get rid of the sewage smell in your basement, and nothing seems to be working, it’s time to call in the professionals.

A professional plumber can diagnose the problem and provide you with the best solution to eliminate the foul odor.

Here are some reasons why you should consider hiring a professional plumber:

Reasons to Hire a Professional Plumber
They have the right equipment and tools to diagnose and fix the problem.
They have the necessary expertise and experience to handle complex plumbing issues.
They can provide you with a long-term solution to prevent the problem from recurring.
They can save you time and money by fixing the problem right the first time.

A professional plumber can inspect your sewer line and identify any clogs or blockages that are causing the sewage smell.

They can also check for any leaks or cracks in your pipes that may be contributing to the problem.

Once they have identified the source of the problem, they can provide you with a detailed estimate of the repair costs.

If the problem is beyond the scope of a plumber, you may need to consider hiring a sewer cleaning service.

These services specialize in cleaning out sewer lines and can help eliminate the sewage smell in your basement. They use high-pressure water jets and specialized equipment to remove any clogs or blockages in your sewer line.

SIX DIY Solutions To Basement Sewage Smell

When you notice a sewage smell in your basement, there are a few DIY solutions you can try before calling a professional. Here are some things you can do to get rid of the odor:

1. Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar can be used to clean and deodorize your plumbing system. To use this method, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, and then flush the drain with hot water. This will help to remove any clogs and eliminate the odor.

2. Snake

A snake can be used to remove any clogs that are causing the sewage smell. To use this method, insert the snake into the drain and turn the handle to move it through the pipes. This will help to break up any clogs and remove them from the system.

3. Bleach

Bleach can be used to kill any bacteria that is causing the smell. To use this method, mix a cup of bleach with a gallon of water and pour it down the drain. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then flush the drain with hot water.

4. Check Your Bathrooms

Check your bathrooms for any leaks or issues with the plumbing system. A leaky toilet ring or a missing cleanout plug can cause a sewage smell in your basement. Make sure everything is properly sealed and in good working order.

5. Odor Eliminators

Odor eliminators can be used to mask the smell until you can fix the problem. You can use commercial products or make your own using cooking oil and essential oils. Mix a few drops of essential oil with a tablespoon of cooking oil and place it in a dish near the source of the odor.

6. Wrench

If the smell is coming from a laundry tub or wash basin, check the trap for any clogs or issues. Use a wrench to remove the trap and clean it out. This will help to remove any clogs and eliminate the odor.

By trying these DIY solutions, you can get rid of the sewage smell in your basement without having to call a professional. However, if the problem persists, it may be time to call in a plumber to assess the issue.

FIVE Basement Sewage Smell Prevention Measures

To prevent basement sewage smells, you can take several measures. Here are some of the most effective ones:

1. Install a Water Trap

A water trap is a simple and effective way to prevent sewer smells from entering your basement.

It works by holding a small amount of water in a U-shaped pipe, which creates a seal that prevents sewer gases from escaping into your home. Make sure to pour water down unused drains to keep the trap full.

2. Install a Sump Pump

A sump pump is a device that removes water from your basement. It is especially useful during heavy rainstorms or when snow melts quickly.

A sump pump can help prevent basement flooding, which can lead to sewage smells.

3. Regularly Clean Your Drains

Regularly cleaning your drains can help prevent blockages that can cause sewage smells.

Pouring boiling water down your drains can help dissolve any grease or soap buildup. You can also use a drain cleaner to remove any blockages.

4. Check Your Sewer Line

If you have persistent sewer smells in your basement, you may have a problem with your sewer line.

A damaged sewer line can cause sewage smells to enter your home. If you suspect that your sewer line is damaged, you should contact a professional plumber to inspect and repair it.

5. Properly Ventilate Your Basement

Proper ventilation is essential to prevent basement sewage smells. Make sure that your basement has proper ventilation, and open windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate. You can also use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity levels in your basement.

By following these prevention measures, you can help prevent basement sewage smells and keep your home smelling fresh and clean.


In conclusion, a basement that smells like sewage can be a frustrating and unpleasant experience. However, there are several possible causes and solutions to this problem.

The most common reason for a sewer smell in your basement is a dry toilet trap. To prevent this, make sure that you regularly use all the toilets in your home and add water to any unused toilets periodically. Another common cause is a clogged floor drain. To fix this, you can try using a plunger or a drain snake to remove any blockages.

If these solutions do not work, it may be necessary to call a professional plumber to inspect your plumbing system. They can check for any damaged or clogged pipes, improperly vented appliances, or other issues that may be causing the smell.

In addition to fixing the underlying problem, there are also several ways to eliminate the smell itself. One option is to use an odor eliminator specifically designed for basements. These products can help neutralize the odor and improve the air quality in your home.

Another option is to use natural remedies such as baking soda or vinegar. You can pour these substances down the drain or sprinkle them on the floor to absorb any odors.

Overall, by identifying the cause of the smell and taking appropriate measures to fix it, you can get rid of the unpleasant odor and enjoy a fresh-smelling basement once again.

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