Sewer Smell in the Basement Continued??

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Due to the tremendous amount of feedback we?ve received on this section of the site we?ve decided to start another article showing some of the basement odor questions we get get via email. We?ve attempted to problem solve as best we can over the internet. Here is a request, from us, if you have an issue that can be clarified with a few pictures send those over with an email. I will ask for your permission to post the questions and answers before publishing. Thanks Keith and Al for the questions.

Keith : ?I just have a question. ÿWhat would be the cause of sanitary waste dumping into a sump pump pit that is only used for removing ground water? ÿMy house doesn?t have a sewage ejector. ÿThe sanitary waste piping connects directly to the town sanitary system. ÿAlso, the sanitary waste is dumping into the pit on dry or raining days.?

1) Are you sure no other plumbing fixtures dump into that pit? i.e. laundry tub, shower drain, basement bath etc.?

2) if no other plumbing fixtures are draining into the sump pit then you most likely have a sewer line break somewhere. Just because everything is draining properly does not mean you don?t have a break.

3) to determine whether or not a sewer line break is the problem, you need to do some dye testing. You can call in a professional plumber or you can look for some plumbing trace dye on-line. The most popular trace dye colors for plumbing are florescent yellow/green or blue. You can use food coloring but it usually dilutes too quickly to be very affective. So you?ve got the dye so what do you do with it? Fill up a bathtub and put some dye powder or tablets in the water, put a couple tablets in your toilets then proceed to drain and flush away. Continue to run water, if you have a waste line break the dye will eventually make it?s way back to your sump pit. It may take an hour or so but it will show up.

Hope this helps.

Keith : ?Thank you TPI for your reply. Nothing else drains into the sump pit.ÿ It is strictly used for ground water (drain tiles) in the basement.ÿ I will try the dye, but I feel it will be an expensive job.ÿ I was told last year that our main sewer (front lawn) is clay tile and tree roots are growing through it.ÿ So to replace it won?t be cheap.?

TPI : The dye testing won?t be expensive. If you can wait a few days I can drop some tablets in the mail for you and you can do it yourself. Just have someone downstairs with a flashlight checking the water coming in the pit. The sewer repair can fluctuate wildly depending on where you live. You can find a dependable contractor to do ÿyour project for 3K to 4K. For a union contractor that price is a little low. Again depending on where you live you might be able to find some out of work plumbers willing to work for ** to ** bucks per hour. Gosh knows there are plenty where I?m from. Let me know if I can help you in any way. See ya.

Keith : ?Thanks again, TPI.ÿÿI didn?t mean the dye test would be expensive.ÿ I meant repairing/replacing the sewer pipe would.ÿÿI am going to have a plumber snake the sewer pipe, hopefully that will take care of the problem (temporarily).

Yes, the tablets would be fine.ÿ What is the cost?? (We are providing those dye tabs free of charge)

Here is another email we received:

Al : ?Recently moved into a 20 yr old home with a septic system. When running the central AC, an overpowering septic smell builds up in the basement. The furnace blower runs on the highest setting when the AC is on and seems to create negative pressure in the basement which then seems to pull in the septic gas. The house was vacant 1 yr prior to our move-in. Have checked all the traps and floor drains: wet & no smell. Confirmed the stink pipe is clear by running garden hose water down in. Also cleaned the AC coils, trap & drain lines, and have eliminated bacteria, animals, mold, etc. in the HVAC as the problem. There is no smell unless the HVAC blower is running on HI. The smell appears to originate in the horizontal run of the septic vent pipe in the basement joists. Does not appear to be coming from the ejector pit although planning to replace the seal as part of the process. Changing the AC blower from Hi to Med and providing additional air paths to the basement have temporarily allowed operation of the AC.

Please advise best method to track the source/solve the problem from here.

Is smoke testing a good method?
Am new to owning a septic system and my ignorance is profound and deep. Any help greatly appreciated.?

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