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When Your Bathroom Smells
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When Your Bathroom Smells Like Poop

When Your Bathroom Smells Like Poop

There is nothing worse than a stinky bathroom. You’ve run the exhaust fan, you’ve used a deodorizing spray and you’ve opened up the door and window to circulate the air. Still, the unmistakeable smell of poop won’t go away, pointing to a likely sewer problem. Left untended, the sewer smell can make you nauseous or give you a headache. It might cause other problems including dizziness and a general discomforting feeling. Here’s how to remedy this stinky problem.

1. Check the vent pipe. When anyone in your family uses the toilet, waste is removed and sent to the sewer system. It is not unusual for an odor to linger, but if that smell is persistent or becoming stronger, then the vent pipe may be clogged. A vent pipe does not transport waste, but it does move sewer gases. These pipes can become clogged, something you can unclog with a water hose or an auger.

2. Consider a cracked vent pipe. What if the vent pipe is not clogged? Could there be another problem at work? Yes, and one issue that comes up is the the durability of the vent pipe itself. Vent pipes can crack, with sewer gases leaking into your home through that crack. The vent pipe is typically located in the basement or under the house in the crawl space. If your home is old, that pipe may be made of iron. In that case you will need to cut away the affected area and replace it, something most homeowners cannot do for themselves. Contact your plumber for advice.

3. Examine the toilet was seal. If the vent pipe is unclogged and in tact, then you need to examine the wax seal that is located between the toilet and the toilet anchor flange. You may already suspect a problem here if the toilet tends to wobble from side to side. If it does, moisture can accumulate underneath, resulting in bacteria and mold. This job may also be too much for you to handle as you will need to get a replacement wax ring, obtain replacement toilet mounting bolts and get other supplies such as pipe wrapping tape, a replacement water supply line and a toiler plunger. Again, contact your plumber for help.

4. Could a toilet trap be the culprit? A blocked toilet trap should be obvious if waste is not flushing as freely as it should. Even a slow moving drain can produce the worst smell, something that you can free by either using a plunger or by using an auger. Try the plunger first and make sure that it covers the entire toilet trap opening. Pump it up and down vigorously and then flush the toilet. If the water goes out freely, then you likely have resolved the problem. If not, use an auger. Insert the end of the auger into the outlet opening and turn it clockwise as you crank it. Pull it out and repeat the process two to four times until the trap has cleared.


The sooner you handle your bathroom problems, the better you will feel. If after checking the four mentioned steps you still notice a problem, then the smell may come from where your sewer line reaches the street. In this case you will need to contact your city for assistance.

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