The Smelly Truth About Sewer Gas

The noxious odor of sewer gas is instantly recognizable because of its rotten egg smell. Sewer gas is comprised of both toxic and non-toxic gases. They are given off by the breakdown of waste materials within the septic or sewer system. It’s difficult to live in a home affected by strong sewer gas odors, and the gas can even cause health consequences. Contact a plumber right away if you think you might have a sewer gas problem. 

Health Risks of Sewer Gas 

Some of the toxic components of sewer gas include ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and methane. In municipal sewer systems, there may be other additives such as chlorine bleach and industrial solvents. Exposure to sewer gas can cause short-term and long-term problems. Some of the short-term symptoms of exposure include: 

  • Dizziness 
  • Headaches 
  • Fatigue 
  • Nausea 
  • Nervousness 
  • Eye and throat irritation 

On a  long-term basis, individuals exposed to sewer gas may become more susceptible to respiratory infections like bronchitis and pneumonia. Hydrogen sulfide can result in fluid accumulation in the lungs, and at very high levels, this toxic gas can result in unconsciousness and death. It’s also important to note that both methane and hydrogen sulfide are flammable and explosive. 

Reasons for Smelling Sewer Gas 

Pipes contain plumbing traps, which seal out sewer gas with a water barrier. When a pipe goes unused for a long time, the water seal may evaporate. This allows sewer gas to seep upward into the home. Other possible causes of sewer gas leakage include a backed-up sewer pipe, clogged drains, and cracked drain pipes. Sometimes, plumbers discover that a deteriorating wax ring under the toilet is the culprit.  

Steps to Take If You Smell Sewer Gas 

If you smell sewer gas, take it as a sign that you and the other residents should step outside for some fresh air. Call the plumbing company from your cell phone and request an emergency visit. Note that sewer gas may also be harmful to your pets. Bring them outdoors while you wait for assistance. 

Ace Plumbing provides emergency plumbing services in Sacramento and the surrounding areas. If you detect sewer gas in your home, give us a call at (916) 455-4548. We also offer water heater installation and repair.  

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