General Sewer Questions

General Sewer Questions – Helpful Answers to Common Questions

It smells like “sewer gas” in my basement — what should I do?
The most common cause of “sewer gas” (hydrogen sulfide) odor in basements is due to improperly maintained floor drains. The floor drains in your basement are designed to “trap” the hydrogen sulfide gases in the sewer and away from your basement.

How to Remedy the Problem:

  • Locate all of the floor drains in your basement.
  • Pour a bucket or two of water in each floor drain every so often. Never let the floor drain dry out.
  • Make sure that all plumbing fixtures are at least periodically used in order to keep fresh water in the P traps.
  • Also, check the stack vents on your roof to ensure that they are not blocked by snow, ice, leaves, etc.


What causes a sewer stoppage?
Sewer stoppage can occur when the City sewer line becomes obstructed. This will then eventually cause a residential back-up, which usually occurs with water/sewage coming up through a floor drain in the basement. The same symptoms will occur when the obstruction is located in the residential lateral.


What is the best way to prevent sewer backups?
Overhead sewers, which run along basement ceilings, are the most effective way to prevent sewer backups as they eliminate the connection between the main sewer system and the basement. With these systems, all above-ground sewage flows by gravity into the lateral line. Below-grade sewage is collected in an ejection pit. From here, it’s pumped up to the house sewer line.

These systems are costly to install, but they’re a good choice for homes with finished basements. However, they need electricity to operate. If there’s a power outage, and there’s no alternative power source to operate the pump, basement plumbing fixtures can’t be used.


What can I do about a sewer line blockage?
Sewer line blockages can lead to sewer backups.  Sewer backups also occur when the lines get clogged with debris.  The condition of the sanitary sewer system could be poor, natural conditions such as ground moving and a lot of rain. Also, when people misuse the system problems can occur.

Another culprit of sewer line blockage are tree roots, and once they’ve blocked the line, there is very little you can do.  Mike’s Plumbing can mechanically clean the line to get it as clear as possible, and then use Root-X to kill the remaining vegetartion. After a mechanical cleaning, Root-X can typically solve all future root problems when treated annually.