Fix a Leak Week: That Stink May Not Be Your Sink!

Okay, here is yet another TRUE story, I don’t make these things up. Last fall, my dear friends clients,  Eric & Susan, who lives a few short blocks away, had us replace a broken set of French doors a few months ago. His gardener, happily boppin’ away with his iTunes, shot a couple of pebbles into one of the doors, shattering it into a spiderweb of glass fragments ready to fall. We responded immediately to the call for help.  While doing a bang up job with the insurance adjuster, door manufacturer, replacement task, & straightening out a long lopsided installation, our friend asked us if we smelled anything funny. Bob didn’t, but I did, Miss Sonic Smell, spoke out that I smelled it often in the bathroom, a really putrid smell. We sent our smallest laborer, Ferno Uno (not Dos), under the house  with a tiny flashlight. He didn’t find much. We didn’t know what it was. Susan wondered if something washed down the sink. Eric wondered if it could have been a remnant from horses that had lived on the property many years ago.

Just this week, we were back at our friend’s place . Our missions to find the source of the stink. He  couldn’t take it. When we arrived, our friend was ready with a hammer to rip up his beautiful back deck to get under the well protected, oldest part of the house. He wanted to rip up the floor of the interior closet.  Juan, our Team Leader, being the sensible sort, said he would just go into the crawl space take a look around.  Upon first inspectionplumbing-basics-ga-1, he came out, verified that it was not the airtight foam around the downdraft for the stove, nor was it anything he could ‘put his finger on,’ but it sure smelled like something bad, dead animals maybe? However, he noted that all the vents under the home had been covered over with insulation, maybe just getting some air flow would help.  Good idea!  Back he went.

A little while later, Juan came back up, found us kvetching over coffee in the kitchen. He had a smile on his face, said, “I think I found the problem!”  The main drain waste vent clean out for the house, the toilets, all the sink drains, etc.,  usually has a thick PVC cap on it, with a metal clamp. Well, the clamp was intact, but at some point, a varmint had eaten right through the cap, it was completely open the smell exuded from it filled the space below the house.  This explained why sometimes the odors were worse than others. We had our answer! It wasn’t that  horses lived on the property 25 years ago, it was the rodents that gnawed the plastic, the humans that installed the installation, day to day life that  caused this odor leak. Multiple causes spread powerful fumes throughout the house.

So sorry, but please, remember to check your DWV, your sewer connections, all the traps in your house at least once a year!! And check to make sure that vents are open functioning properly.  Also don’t forget to check for leaks, which can cause damage as well as waste hundreds of gallons of water.