If you find your bathroom emitting a sewer-like smell after flushing the toilet, it means that something needs fixing. A smelly toilet could result from several factors, so it’s best to go through the list of possible causes to determine what is causing the stench. Fortunately, once you identify what the problem is, it’s usually easy to fix.
If your toilet smells like sewage when flushed, this could be due to a broken wax sealing ring, clogged bathroom vents, or a cracked toilet bowl. To fix it, replace the wax ring or clean the blocked vents. However, to fix the cracked toilet bowl, you may need to buy a new toilet.
If you are left wincing every time you flush your toilet, it means there’s something wrong with your toilet system. It might also require immediate action; otherwise, it could develop into an even bigger problem. In this article, you’ll get more detailed information on why your toilet remains smelly after flushing and how to fix it, as well as useful tips on how to remove the bad smell and ways to prevent this problem from recurring.
1. A Broken Wax Sealing Ring
Every toilet base contains a wax ring that helps seal in water and odors. However, a loose or damaged seal allows sewer odors from within the toilet and drain pipe to get pushed out each time you flush the toilet. Even worse, water could begin to escape from the toilet, causing water damage.
You can tell the wax seal is broken if the toilet rocks whenever you sit on it. The seal can also suffer damage from a plunger’s hydraulic pressure. To fix the broken seal, replace the wax ring.
2. A Cracked Toilet Bowl
Toilet cracks tend to occur beneath the toilet bowl, so they are often not visible. If your toilet bowl has a crack, water could leak out through it, allowing sewer gases to seep into your bathroom. Unfortunately, a cracked bowl might not be that easy to fix, so you might need to replace the entire toilet. Call in a professional to do this for you.
3. A Blocked Toilet Trap or Drain Pipe
This can occur due to accumulated waste in the toilet trap or drainpipe or by objects getting flushed down the toilet. At times, you can smell the odors from these blocked substances when you flush the toilet. Try using a plunger to unclog the blockage or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar.
If this doesn’t work, consider getting a professional plumber to inspect your pipes and remove all blockages to prevent recurring clogs or an overflowing toilet.
4. A Clogged Vent
Yet another possible cause of the sewer-like smell after flushing your toilet is a clogged vent. Clogged drain vents mean the air has nowhere else to go apart from the bathroom. This is a common problem during winter as frost can close the vent pipe extending through the roof. Clearing the bathroom vents allows the air to move through the vents properly, thus getting rid of sewer gas.
Again, a malfunctioning vent could cause your toilet to vent through the tub instead of venting outside. When this happens, you will hear a gurgling sound in your tub when you flush the toilet.
5. A Rarely-Used Toilet
If you have a basement toilet, you might notice an awful smell when you eventually get to flush it after a long period of disuse. Under normal circumstances, the P-trap retains some water after flushing, which acts as a seal, preventing sewer smells from entering your bathroom.
But if a toilet is hardly used, the water in the P-trap could evaporate, causing odors from the drainpipe to escape out of the toilet. To eliminate the bad smell, try pouring some water down the drain. You could also flush the toilet as this will fill up the P-Trap.
To avoid such problems in the future, flush your toilet regularly. This will help maintain the water in the P-trap and prevent odious gases from filling your bathroom.
Your toilet could also smell like sewage due to any of the following reasons:
- An incorrectly installed, cut or cracked vent pipe. Call in an experienced plumber to identify the exact problem and fix it.
- If the seal attaching the toilet to the wall is loose, it could leak sewage and water. This could pool in crevices around your toilet, attracting bacteria, which produce a foul odor as they grow. Apply caulk to the toilet seal to fix the issue.
- In hot, humid conditions, bad bacteria from the sewer system could make their way into your toilet bowl and start multiplying. To kill the bacteria and eliminate them from the system, pour white vinegar or chlorine bleach into either the flush valve or overflow pipe.
Is a Smelly Toilet a Health Risk?
Sewer gas is not only unpleasant, but it could also be a health hazard. Methane, one of the constituents, is highly flammable if it accumulates into large amounts. Furthermore, if it leaks into the rest of the house, methane gas can lead to nausea, dizziness, headaches, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and even suffocation.
If the stinky toilet has a characteristic rotten egg smell, this is most likely from hydrogen sulfide gas. Sewer bacteria produce this smelly gas, and it’s essential to disinfect the pipes to eliminate them.
Also, note that if there’s a breach in the seal that keeps out sewer gases, airborne pathogens and sewer germs could creep into your bathroom. As such, it’s advisable to wear a painter’s mask before you start inspecting your toilet to avoid breathing toxic fumes.
There’s more to a smelly toilet than your exotic meal choices – especially if you can’t fix the foul-smelling toilet by cleaning, flushing, or using some air freshener. It could be that the toilet needs repair or you have clogged drains that need cleaning. Sometimes you might not be able to identify the real cause.
However, whatever the cause, be sure to address the issue as soon as possible to prevent it from worsening and necessitating major repairs. If it’s not something you can sort on your own, call in the experts.