Latest Discussions : Plumbing


03:24PM | 07/13/03
Member Since: 07/12/03
9 lifetime posts
I moved in to a rental house near the SF Bay 3 months ago. Every 3-4 days, a hideous odor "erupts" into the Master Bedroom.
It is intermittent and smells like an old filthty latrine. Dead Fish? Hard to describe. There is no pattern to it....and I cannot make it "erupt". The room fills with this foul odor for about an hour or so.....then goes away for about 3 or 4 days.

We have had inspectors, plumbers & contractors through here checking every pipe, vent, and looking under the house (has about a 2 foot crawl space.)

We are totally stumped & so are the plumbers including the City Sewer dept. I cannot live in that room.

I am at wits end......Anyone have a clue as to what to look at next? Please send your ideas.
Stinky in Fremont, CA


08:31AM | 07/14/03
Member Since: 03/13/00
1674 lifetime posts
K2 might be on to something. I suggest as a test you let that faucet drip very slowly for the next several days. If the problem never occurs, that could be it.


05:24AM | 07/15/03
Member Since: 07/12/03
9 lifetime posts
Howdy - & thank-you for your reply.
I use the drains in that room everyday since I moved in to make sure the P-traps stay wet.
I have to make myself shower in there every morning & the toilet also gets attention. I could let water drip into the sink.
When the Stink arrives.....we go into the bathroom & cannot detect it coming out from a drain. Unless it releases a big cloud & then it is over. I will try the drip test in the sink. Stinky.

erik peterson

01:23PM | 07/15/03
Member Since: 06/23/03
223 lifetime posts
I had a similar situation a few years one was able to ascertain the origin of a horrible smell...turned out that the window being left "open" to air the bathroom out was actually letting the odor in from the outside. It was coming from the neighbors dog-run when the conditions (breeze,moisture,sun) were just right. erik


10:47AM | 07/16/03
Member Since: 07/12/03
9 lifetime posts
Hi & thanks for your ideas.
The owner & about 10 others (plumbers & the like) have been under in the crawl space and not found any dead animals nor smelled the stink. They have not been down there when the foul odor erupts. When it does erupt, I have gone out doors & sniffed all around the crawl area vents (also up in the attic) and can't even smell "the Stink" out there.

I am not convinced it is plumbing.....but the smell is so foul that it seemed like the logical place to start. I have smelled dead rodents in walls (unfortunately) and this is different and intermittent - every 3 or 4 days. Dead rats really smell when it hits 100 degrees ......This seems to "erupt" in the cooler evening time. (or 4 AM)

The Neighbor doesn't have animals.
There is a LARGE plant - Bird of Paradise - right outside the Bedroom. It does not seem to give off odors.

The owner has never experienced the Stink so it is getting difficult to get their assistance in finding this elusive ghost.....

Next steps??? Open up the floor? or walls?
It has a nice hardwood floor in there - built around 1960.


04:46AM | 07/17/03
Member Since: 05/31/03
14 lifetime posts
You may check the vent pipe, a bird may have built a nest or something may be blocking it where it comes out of the house. We had this problem once and the vent was the last thing we checked of course. Ours had a small dead bird in it. Of course you had the inspectors there so they more then likely checked it.


09:24AM | 08/03/03
Member Since: 07/12/03
9 lifetime posts
The Stink is still here. Please Help....
Cleaned out the vents to the roof & vented the exhaust fan.
Now it is showing up approximately every 5 days......we have noticed it in the evenings (when the day is cooling off) at around 8 p.m. to 8:30 P.M.

I cannot imagine it being anything other than plumbing related based upon the foul (urine-like) odor and the intermittent nature.

What else do I look at?
Seems like it should be so obvious because the odor is Sooooo strong when it does erupt. Seems to come right up through the floor throughout the Master Bedroom.

What could be under this House?


02:44PM | 08/04/03
Member Since: 09/01/00
312 lifetime posts
Well,this is a little far fetched but it happened where I work.Same deal,no real pattern,rotting smell coming and going,etc;etc.I finally discovered a small roof leak,which would pool in an aluminum header inside one of the drywalls.I had never known that rusting aluminum when wet can smell like garbage.Right after the leak was repaired, the smell left for good.


05:33AM | 08/05/03
Member Since: 07/12/03
9 lifetime posts
Dear Member:

We have found dry rot/termites in the outside wall & in one other bedroom.
The other bedroom never stinks & it has not rained in months.
Was your foul odor intermittent? Every 4-5 days? Thanks.


12:56PM | 08/05/03
Member Since: 09/01/00
312 lifetime posts
I don't recall that we had the time of the odor pinned down specifically,but it seemed like once a week, or more, for a year or two. I would keep a detailed log of dates/times and weather (esp. humidity).Condensation can form on hidden pipes and drip onto other surfaces.Also,draw a detailed map of the house and immediate area which includes locations of venting equipment.Also,attempt to get a history of the property site to insure you're not getting bursts of gas from an old land fill.


09:58AM | 08/10/03
Member Since: 12/26/01
10 lifetime posts
We had something similar in our bathroom when we moved in. 50 year old house, with little maintenance. Unluckily (or actually in this case luckily) we had a leaky toilet and had to take the toilet off - we then ended up removing the top layer of flooring, and then the next and the next. Well the stench coming from this was overpowering. Someone in the past wasn't too careful when using the bathroom and didn't clean anything up before replacing the floor. Yuk! If you have hardwood floors - and it being a rental -could the stench not be coming from between the cracks in the floor. As for the time of day - more humidity, less circulation?


05:56PM | 09/04/03
Member Since: 04/22/03
5 lifetime posts
I have a similar problem, in my rental house. The house was unoccupied for four months. The new tennant moved in last Friday. She has called me three times since then, complaining of a rotting fish smell (in the AM only).
Please let me know if you find an solution. I am contemplating tearing the drywall out of the room ajoining the bathroom, and or replacing all of the waste pipes with Plastic piping.
This house is close to the water (Puget Sound). I thought this may be part of the reason, but why??


05:40PM | 09/07/03
Member Since: 07/12/03
9 lifetime posts
Wish I had some good news for You........we are still trying to find the cause of the stink. There are times when it smells like dead fish. Is yours intermittent or does it smell all the time? Our house was vacant for a few months before we moved in here. I live about 10 miles from the SF Bay. The Landlords have given up....they say they have done all they can. If your plumbing updates cure the stink at your rental, please let me know. good luck.


06:26PM | 09/08/03
Member Since: 04/22/03
5 lifetime posts
the smell is intermittent and seems to arrive after a shower or bath. its most noticeable in the morning. My brother in-law works as a chemist for LA County utliliies (sewer discharge). He recomneds using Draino, followed by pure bleach in all of the drains and in the vent. I will be trying this on Tuesday. My tennant says that the smell is most intense at the water heater, so i will be putting bleach in there too. You may e-mail me directly at


09:02AM | 11/15/03
Member Since: 11/12/03
3 lifetime posts
Hi, Stinkhouse!
We have the same problem, and we've had it for over a year.
We live in a condo complex and have tried to get the management company to find the problem, and of course, no one can really smell it when they come by to check it out.
We've had plumbers, pest control people (because when this first started, we could hear something scurrying in the walls and ceiling, but no more, but the smell remains.)
Our smell arrives in late afternoon and throughout the evening. We've kept a log, and it doesn't seem to occur when the heat comes on or after we use the plumbing.
The one pest control guy we had come over when it did smell (in the AM) he only noticed a faint ammonia smell. He then left without any idea what was causing it.
We are at wits end! Do we just start tearing into the walls and floors?
It's weird, because we can smell it so strongly, but we can't pin-point its origin.
We haven't had our heating vents cleaned out, but I did get an estimate from a guy who said that if anything were in the vents, you'd see insulation parts at the vent opening. We don't see any of that. But, sometimes it does seem like we can smell it faintly at other vents.
So, here's what we know:
--The smell: ammonia/urine-like
--The location: strongest at entry into bedroom, which is near a bathroom
--The experts: a plumber checked for leaks (in a cursory way, if you ask me) and found none; pest control found no point of entry for possible pests, nor any pellets; contractors found no screens on vent openings open or broken
--The last plumber was also a contractor and his only advice was that we start tearing up walls, which he was sure we didn't want to do. However, he couldn't smell the smell and has no idea how annoying and unpleasant it is.

Does anyone know if this ammonia-like smell is toxic? Our daughter sleeps in that room!

Perhaps it's worth having the vents cleaned out just in case (this isn't cheap!)

sign me, stinkycondoinCA

[This message has been edited by arichardson (edited November 15, 2003).]


06:36AM | 11/16/03
Member Since: 07/12/03
9 lifetime posts
Does anyone else in your condo unit have it?
Is it just in One Room? (like Ours)
Are you living near a body of water?
Are you on the first floor?

I have still not figured out our ghost odor.
Just looking for similarities that may help us out.

Has anyone heard of underground crevices that might give off such odors according to the movement of the tide in the SF bay?
(ok, this is just one of the suggestions I have heard but find so hard to believe)

Our Stink releases about every 2-7 days now. Usually in the evening (of course that is when I am home to smell it)
every time we create a movement of air at about 8:30 pm in the room it will go off if it has been about 5 days or so. Even the ceiling fan can get it to release.
What could be under this house? Of Course, the landlords have still not smelled they don't want to deal with it.

Let me know what you think.


01:02PM | 12/03/03
Member Since: 12/01/03
8 lifetime posts
Just a thought, could the smell be mold? Do you smell it when the floor gets damp? Mold will give off a real bad smell, sometimes it will stay do dormant until moisture or dampness its it. If the bathroom is under the crawl space that could cause a smell if the wood indeed has mold in it.

I would also ask the landlord if before you rented did any tenants before you have pets such as a dog or a cat. I would try cleaning the whole bathroom with white vinegar top to bottom a few times, this will help to get rid of the smell had an animal been there.



04:45AM | 12/04/03
Member Since: 07/12/03
9 lifetime posts
Thank-You Kat for your ideas.
this is not a pet odor. Previous tenants did not have pets and supposedly never smelled this (altho none stayed longer than 6 months)

It is intermittent....It releases every 3-5 days. It's like a big cloud of dead fish smell that emits into our master bedroom.

We have cleaned extensively. over and over again.
The floor does not get damp. It does not smell like must or mold. we did have a mold inspection.....nothing turned up.

Plumbers out there: If there was a leak in the P-trap under the shower....could that take 2 days to dry out and get back flow from the drain????

Still trying to find the source of the Stink.


03:17PM | 12/09/03
Member Since: 12/08/03
1 lifetime posts
The same thing is happening to us. Just started happening last week. Smell only occurs in the evening in the master bathroom. Fishy/ammonia-type smell. We live in Texas in a warm climate but the weather has been cool lately. Husband has checked the attic and found nothing there. Haven't checked the vents yet.

We did see a racoon in our garage 2 nights ago. Wondering if it's somehow crawling in the attic. We live in a 2-story house though. Attic is pretty high and roof is steep. Smell can only be detected in the master bathroom. If the animal was living somewhere outside under the house somehow (we don't have basements here), could the smell be that strong to come through the walls from outside. Our bathroom is really the only room that's right on the grassy part of the backyard.

Please let me know if you figure out what your smell is.


04:44AM | 12/10/03
Member Since: 07/12/03
9 lifetime posts
Thanks for your Reply.
I will certainly let you know if I ever figure this out.
Hope you will do the same!


10:26AM | 01/15/04
Member Since: 01/14/04
1 lifetime posts
I can definetely relate to your plight! We noticed a very foul smell in our front room a little over 8 months ago. Same type of smell, intermittent, no apparent cause. For us, though, it seemed to only appear after we had been moving around in the room. Because of that, we thought it was the carpet (pet odor trapped in it, etc), so we replaced the carpet. After doing that, the smell seemed to go away (this was about 7 months ago), but now it has come back! Same situation, we move around in the room and the smell comes back...we don't have a crawl space (we're on a concrete slab), there are no pipes running adjacent to the room, and we just had our a/c vents cleaned recently. I really wish we could figure this out


09:27AM | 05/31/04
Member Since: 06/01/03
8 lifetime posts

This is exactly what we are going through ~ for two years now!! Has anyone figured it out?

We've ripped out new carpet ~ bleached the floor ~ filled the ptraps all daily in the bath near by. I'm almost in tears when I smell "the smell". Our house is 5 years old and we are the only ones to have lived here.

I've tried draino & bleach down drains ~ it hasn't helped!!

Interested in finding out if anyone else has found a solution.



12:11PM | 06/23/04
Member Since: 06/01/03
8 lifetime posts
I think we have found it! We have had water seepage to our floor for the last five years. Not enough for the carpet to get wet on top. It was coming in the hole the alarm company drilled for the window sensors. With a strong westerly wind/rain ~ it's gotten in those holes, seeped into the walls and down to the floor. The floor was damp and the pad and the carpet were ruined. You could see where it had gotten wet, dried and wet again. I think the strong sun through those windows aggrivated the bacteria that was living in the carpet and caused the smell to erupt.

We've ripped out the carpet and are now waiting to see if the smell comes back at all before we recarpet. We haven't looked into the wall yet. We are going to do that tonight.



05:32PM | 06/23/04
Member Since: 06/22/04
2 lifetime posts
I've seen similar problems where the vents appear to be alright but if there is a break or split of some kind in the sewer gas vent pipes (the ones that allow the gases to go to the roof instead of entering the house) then you will get sewer gasses leaking into the walls. If the walls are fairly well sealed then this gas can ventin places like the door jams or electrical outlets. Unfortunately the only way to find these types of breaks, since they are above the water flow line and will usually not leak fluids, is by direct sight examination.

To narrow down the source you could actually try draining/removing the p-trap under the sink and see if the smell seems to originate from the sewer or not.

doug seibert

12:42PM | 06/30/04
Member Since: 08/10/02
842 lifetime posts
City utilities use a smoke test to check for breaks in the drain/vent systems.......


04:10PM | 07/15/04
Member Since: 12/26/01
10 lifetime posts
I was doing some reading about plumbing and vent stacks and they were actually talking about the location of the stack to the plumbing fixture and it's function. If the stack is placed too far away, the drainage of the water can actually cause a vacuum and remove all the water from the P-trap - hence the sewer gases. I don't know if this applies..... just a thought.


06:01AM | 07/22/04
Member Since: 07/21/04
1 lifetime posts
I have this terrible solvent/lacquer smell coming from inside the wall separating my bedroom & bathroom. It gets worse at night, when it rains and after I take a shower (so I'm thinking dead animal) but multiple people have said the smell seems like solvent/paint thinner/kerosine (which makes me question the dead animal theory).

I know there are mice in the house (I could hear them, another tennant has caught a couple). So, this would lead us back to the dead animal theory.

Being a 1 bedroom apartment, ripping the wall up would be a nightmare. Plus, there are 2 sliding doors in the wall (the wall is 7 feet wide) that close off my bedroom from the bathroom (door 1) and from the kitchen/dining/tv room (door 2).

So, aside from my rambling, my question is this:

Can a petroleum product smell actually be a dead animal? What can I do to get rid of the smell?


09:13AM | 07/22/04
Member Since: 06/01/03
8 lifetime posts
Our smell has turned out to be mold that was in the walls above our bedroom downstairs. drywall had to be cut out in order to get to it. One neat thing, a water restoration/fire damage company came in and removed the trim, drilled small holes and sent a camera up to see what was there. They couldn't see much b/c of the insulation but they could tell everything was wet.

Im not sure if a dead animal can smell like fuel but I didn't know mold could smell so horrible (and unlike mold).


07:24PM | 01/31/07
Member Since: 01/30/07
1 lifetime posts
Lift drain cover and look down, if you see a dark gum like substance on the in side of the drain it could be the cause of the smell.

You need to scub the dark gum out and use drain cleaner, you need to also do this with the sink drain. Also check the celling fan vent has one way valve. Good luck


08:53PM | 02/26/13
Same problem going on at my place, i have no carpet in the house, the smell comes from inside the walls and under neath the house. I think it is some kind of gas seeping up from the ground possibly some sewage from a leaky pipe or something. I had the pipes looked at by a plumber who used a video camera and found nothing, I had a mold guy come look at it and do an indoor air quality test and found nothing, I checked in the attic for leaks and mouse droppings but found none.
When doing some work in the kitchen replacing some cabinets there was a hole in the corner of the house on the block layer beneath the dry wall. I could feel cool air coming in from the hole and it smelled bad I sealed up the hole but the smell is between the walls and just seeps in elsewhere.

there was a small hole in the floor in the basement where the concrete was poured properly--I could see the stone and feel the cool air rising up and it smelled bad. I sealed the hole with hydraulic cement but the stink rises up between the walls of the house and seeps in throughout. It is disgusting. I need to move because it makes me sick, causes me headaches, depression, inability to concentrate, nausea.

I had the carbon monoxide tested as well. The smell comes every 5 days or so and lasts about 3-4 days. It grows in intensity over a day or two then gradually fades before reappearing after about a 3-4 day reprieve.

Someone mentioned it could be a leaky pipe in the wall but that doesnt explain why it would be coming up from under the house. Is there a way i can vent the area under the house or get it testted for sewage or some kind of gas? There are no signs of entry of rodents or moisture. It happens when it is completely dry outside.

I thought maybe it was something from the neighbors house seeping into mine because it is attached on both sides.

I have a radon pump installed.


08:55PM | 02/26/13
Member Since: 02/26/13
1 lifetime posts
IS it possible the smell could be coming from the ground beneath the house? maybe swamp gass or sewage leak? How would you get that tested?


09:44AM | 09/23/13
Check your electrical outlets! Melting electrical causes a fishy odor. I am going through the same issues. I read on another blog that this is the culprit. It makes complete sense because we had the same smell last summer/ early fall. In November, we lost power to half of our house (luckily no fire) and the electrician who came to repair said it was melting wires, replaced. I never mentioned the fishy smell to him, didn't think it mattered. But now that I'm having the smell again, I'm reading multiple websites that say to check the wiring. So this must be the issue. Let me know if you all find the same culprit as I hope to find.


04:50PM | 01/08/21
We had a similar fishy odor problem we could never identify. it came and went. I began to notice that it only occured after the lights had been on for some time. Stood above the vanity and removed the light covering and behold the smell was coming from the porcelin light fixture when it got warm. Changed it out and never another problem.

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