All of those DIY shows we’ve watched gave us plenty of plumbing and toilet repair confidence, but they didn’t prepare us for this:
We kept smelling sewer gas. First it was on the stairway. Then it was in the living room. Another time, it was in the hallway. Where was it coming from? If you’ve ever smelled it, you know what it is. It’s unmistakably methane. It’s also a scent you don’t want in your house, and all we wanted to do was get rid of it!
In an older house, we knew it could be a variety of things: Dry drains, or a clogged master cleanout or main stack could all cause methane to build up. First, we tried the obvious. We poured bleach into the drains, re-caulked around the toilet, snaked out our sewer cleanout and the vent pipe on our roof; all to no avail. We still smelled methane and it was driving us crazy! Where was that smell coming from? We’d done everything we knew to do. It was time to call in the professionals at Sav-On Plumbing.
The certified plumber from Sav-On re-snaked the drains, re-checked the air flow in the roof vent and then checked one last thing: the toilet. The toilet is on the second floor. What could happen with our toilet? It flushed fine, most of the time. Sometimes, we had to flush it twice, but other than that, we didn’t notice anything strange. The plumber insisted on pulling the toilet out just to make sure. If that didn’t find the source of our methane gas, then he’d check other places and at least we’d know for sure.
After he turned off the water supply and emptied both the tank and bowl, he pulled the toilet out and stared down the sewer pipe. Sure enough, it was blocked, but it wasn’t from the usual suspects of baby wipes or toilet paper. It was tree roots! All the way up to our second floor!
A number of dry seasons in a row caused our nearby tree to work hard to find a good water source, and its diligence paid off. Its tree roots penetrated the older clay city sewage pipes, grew outward and upward to a reliable water source and finally blocked the drain line on our toilet. That was what caused methane to leak from the base of the toilet, down the stairs and into the main rooms of the house.
We would never have guessed that could happen!
The plumber snaked the toilet drain line just like he would a cleanout. Once he was sure the lines were clear, he reset the toilet, turned the water back on and cleaned everything up neatly. No more methane.
Those DIY shows never prepared us for checking a drain pipe for tree roots, especially on a second floor. When it’s time to call in the professionals, the folks at Sav-On really helped us out. Our toilet repair experience was great! The reseated toilet got a new wax ring underneath – a necessary part of keeping a toilet leak-free and flushing properly – and we took care of the problem before it became a bigger issue.