Ask PoopReport: My Stinky Shower


Today I have a question of my own!

We live in a house build into the side of a hill. Our front door is on ground level in the front of the house, and to get to the back yard, one must go downstairs and out the back of the house. All of our bedrooms and two bathrooms are located downstairs, level with the back yard, where our septic tank is located.

My bathroom is located along the back wall of the house. This means if there is a septic problem that I will be the lucky recipient of a shit-filled shower. Thankfully, this has only happened once. No, what I am am dealing with right now is a funky, non-poop smell in my bathroom that comes and goes. It is especially evident in my shower, even though I am fanatical about keeping the shower drain clear.

To address these points first, the septic tank is fine. I checked the emergency pressure valve located between the tank and our house, and there does not seem to be a clog. I also ran drain cleaner in both downstairs bathrooms, sinks, showers, and tubs. I also completed an overnight bleach soak in the drains in my bathroom, as instructed by a plumber. The result is that the smell I was smelling--which almost smells like warm, putrid perm solution--has dissipated somewhat but still comes and goes.

The three young adults sucking the life out of me (haha) admitted to not using the hair trap/drain cover I bought for their tub. Their tub was somewhat clogged, as well.

Since the smell has lightened up, and the septic system is running well, and there are no clogs in the house, could I be smelling the residual of a nasty hair clog? Or might there have been a rodent who died in one of the pipes or something?


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5 Comments on "Ask PoopReport: My Stinky Shower"

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points

You make me think of a situation I once encountered while in military service. I had recently arrived at Whiteman AFB, Mo. and was assigned the position of NCOIC of operations. The men who were under me were responsible for the cleanliness of the operations building and this included a women's bathroom on the ground floor. The bathroom was cleaned often but smelled to high heaven anyway. None one could solve the problem and they had just learned to ignore it. I noticed that there was a floor drain that was never used as the room was merely mopped but never flooded. I solved the problem by pouring some water into the drain so the trap was no longer dry. Without water to stop the back-flow of sewer odors the drain was a direct unimpeded line to lots of nasty smelly gas.

If I had two faces do you think I'd be wearing this one?

runninggrrl2's picture
Comment Quality Moderatork 500+ points

I suppose you can't pour some lye crystals down the drain to clear out the hair clog since you have a septic system, right? If you could do that, that might get rid of the rest of the hair clog for you.

An apple a day keeps the ExLax away!

Deja Poo's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorj 1000+ points

I think the Chief is onto the solution. If your shower's waste line doesn't have a P-trap installed properly, then sewer or septic gas could be flowing back through the drain and into the house. Unfortunately, the indicated shower is on the bottom floor of the house, which means those pipes are probably under the concrete slab on which the house is built.

The only real practical way for finding out whether or not you actually have a P trap at this point would be to get a plumber with one of those sewer cameras to scope the system.

You might also try putting a tight fitting plug in the shower drain when not in use. If the smell dissipates and significantly lessens, then you have found your culprit.

BTW, if there's a sink in the bathroom (and there probably should be), I would check for a P trap on that as well.

Yo quiero Taco Bell.

daphne's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardSite AdminComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatore 6000+ points

Huh! This is all great information.

But why have I not smelled this smell until now? We've lived here for nine years! Can a "P" trap break?

I have called a well-reviewed plumber/septic guy, and I cannot wait to hear from him.

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

daphne's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardSite AdminComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatore 6000+ points

OK, I did some research on the P trap, and I found a great article about how water that collects in the dip of P trap helps stop septic fumes from re-entering the house:

Wiki Answers: How do I stop an intermittant [sic] sewage smell from all the drains in the house?

It appears as if one of two things is happening in our home:
1. The intake baffle or drain pipe leading directly to the septic tank has a small clog, which we can check for.
2. One of the P trap pipes in our home is partially clogged, leaking, or has a hiccup in it.

I have noticed that there has been a gurgling in the second of our two Brady Bunch sinks in the master bath, that lead to the shower, which leads outside. The gurgle seems to have gone away, but I will check it out again tonight.

I hope the plumber has news for me tomorrow. And again, thanks for the info. It's neat to learn new things.

.....hugging bunnies since 1969

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