Methane odor

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    • #278786
      Avatar photoMasterPlumbers

        My house is around 100 yrs old. I’m sure the plumbing is not that old. Most of the interior drain pipes are copper. I am getting this odor at random times thru the year. I do not have a septic tank. I am on city sewer line. I seem to be the only person on the street complaining about this odor. Once I called the water and sewer dept. and they came to my house and flushed 1000 gal of water thru the city sewer line at the street and also poured a sweet smelling solution in the manhole. Upon entering my home, I immediately recognized the smell as the liquid poured in the manhole. Also after the 1000 gal. was flushed into the line, the odor ceased for a period of time. Could this be mere coincedence? Any ideas?????

      • #299297
        Avatar photoJohn Aldrich1

          Bcull, read the inquiry, and responses posted on the GREAT Bulletin Board by Molly on November 26, 2000, titled “Methane-like Smell in Basement”. Molly was experiencing the same sewer gas odor problem.

          I am gratified that Richard knows that he is a chemist. Mercaptans are odorous gasses which are frequently contained in sewer gas along with Hydrogen sulfide. I disagree with Richard’s suggestion that “you can also throw some bleach down there”. In order for the 5% chlorine in the bleach to be effective, you would have to “throw” a very large volume of bleach “down there”. The effect would only be temporary, and I am sure that the guys down at the sewage treatment plant would not be appreciative of the impact of a large slug of chlorine bleach flowing into their biological treatment process.

          Sylvan recommeded a Peppermint Oil Test on Molly’s plumbing system. The Peppermint Oil Test will confirm that there is a leak in the vent system. Sounds like your city sewer department has already performed this type of test, and because you smelled the substance in your home, the result is the vent leak test is positive. The problem now is to determine from where the leak is emanating into your home.

          Fill with water the traps of all the seldom used drains in your home. If the odors persist, then I suggest a smoke test. As you are aware, you cannot see the odor, but unless you are visually impaired you will be able to see the smoke. Do not fear “thick pungent smoke inside peopes(sic) homes”, as Sylvan has stupidly suggested. A Licensed Master Plumber with a modicum of common sense, is able to perform the smoke test to determine the location of the leak, or leaks with no smoke damage to your home.

          Unless you are experiencing slow drainage from your water using appliances, and fixtures, then the water jetting procedure is problably unnecessary. Consult with the Licensed Master Plumber, whose opinion you trust, regarding the advisability of water jetting your sewer plumbing system.

          Good luck in solving your plumbing problems. JWA

        • #299298
          Avatar photoRichard

            I stand by my statement about using bleach. I am sure no one would throw concentrated sodium hypochlorite down the drain. Household bleach, even 3-4 liters would kill any germs in low concentration, as long as it is allowed to sit.
            This would have NO effect on the sewage treatment facility. Bleach is fairly reactive and completely soluble in water. Hence it would all be eliminated by reaction with other sewage, and if not, it would be dilute down to the parts per billion range by the time it gets to the sewage plant. Also I am assuming that there is no septic tank, since in such a scenario you do NOT want to kill the bacteria therein.

            The Friendly Chemist

            [Edited by Richard on 11 December 2000]

          • #299299
            Avatar photoSylvanLMP

              John again you show your ditch digging mentality.

              John did you bother to contact NIOSH and READ the recommendations of cleaning sewer rods with bleach?

              EVEN using LESS concentrations then hold use will still kill all bacteria including the aids virus and hepatitis.

              Another morainic statement was about the chlorine being thrown down the drain.

              HEY Hole digger ever hear of Hercules clobber (concentrated sulfuric acid) I am sure this acid is much stronger concentration then house hold bleach YET it is widely used with great success.

              Some of the drain designers I know have masters and Ph.D. YOU have a pick and shovel and “plastic” box

              John I would NEVER ask you about “Septic Systems” As you have proven many times what you DONT KNOW.

              I would ask someone like Rodger Machmeier (Ph.D.,PE) This is a REAL professional John know what “professional” means HUH John?

              Why dont you ask Rodger to explain the REAL aspects of this profession not just shoveling by hand.

              ONLY A MORON or a ditch digger wanna be would say OK you smell sewer Gas light a smoke bomb and throw it down a vent pipe.

              John I must ask you again “how does it feel to be a failure”?

              I strongly suggest you Stick with CRAP plastic installations and leave everything else to the professionals on this list.

              Some are born brilliant some are born good looking YOU John are a TWO TIME LOSER.

              If brains were dynamite you couldn’t blow your nose.

              Stick to the field your dabbling in as you certainly have no real skills it would appear.

              For your information a lot of professionals are concerned about the flammability of “sewer gasses” and there is a movement in this industry ( your not part of it) to make video inspection camera lenses explosion proof… YET you come along with your PEA SIZED brain saying USE A smoke BOMB.

              Sight unseen and not even bothering to take air samples to KNOW the concentration of the “gas” you tell someone to light this device.

              John WHY DON’T YOU put your head in a toilet flush it and SEE if you can see a vortex?

              Again John PLEASE leave drain/plumbing and Gas fitting to folks with BRAINS not guys digging holes for sewer professionals.

              One more point YOU BRAIN dead ditch digger… THINK about the Chlorine in WATER and swimming pools that get discharged into the sanitary system.

              Hey you pea brain wanna be, THINK about how diluted this bleach would become with ALL the other water flowing through a public system.

              Using bleach WOULD kill the bacteria that could cause smells.

              John seriously YOU should consider another line of work as it certainly isn’t in these fields.

              In My opinion Your nothing but a danger to anyone who would listen to you.

              Please guy get some education before you hurt someone with your fire cracker mentality.

              The oil of peperment test is NON toxic No flamable and will not have any advesrse effects in the home Or in a GAS FILLED system.

              The peperment test is CHEAP to do and requires NO FIRE in the presence of Methane gas.

              Once you KNOW for a fact that there is a ventilation problem THEN you can air out the sewer system CHECK the gas concentration

              THEN get a guy like you to play with fire near a potencial bomb.

              You amaze me John how you can suggest looking for a possible gas leak with a flame.

              I would STRONGLY suggest John you open your gas main full blast come back in a few hours and light a smoke BOMB in YOUR HOME then come on here and tell others how well you made out.

              A little bit of knowledge is a very dangerious thing..

              [Edited by SylvanLMP on 12 December 2000]

            • #299300
              Avatar photoRichard

                I don’t play ditch digger, and you shouldn’t play chemist. I had to go through a lot of formal and on-the-job training. It will be more work for me to get my Ph.D.

                Your line of work doesn’t even need a GED, just someone willing to work cheap and operate a shovel. Any uneducated dolt can do that. Plumbers have to go through many years of on-the-job training as well as learning the theory behind the work. Its one thing to do plumbing. To understand the theory behind it is a different matter. That’s what seperates the master plumbers from the helpers.

                Your explanations against sodium hypochlorite is wrong. Sodium hypochloride is a biocide, and works by creating a high osmatic pressure within the cell. You say they need a high volume of bleach. Not true. Anyone that works with biohazardous materials knows that household bleach diluted 15x would kill any bacteria that is on the lab benches, or where there is biohazadous materials. But then again, you are a grave digger, you don’t have to worry yourself about being right. Keep on digging buddy!

                The Friendly Chemist

                [Edited by Richard on 11 December 2000]

              • #299301
                Avatar photoJohn Aldrich1

                  Bcull, well those responses were certainly refreshing and repleat with intelligent, and helpful information now were they not? :>) I refuse to stoop to that low level of intelligence by hurling back insults to Sylvan and Richard. It is impossible to enter into an intelligent conversation with these two guys, and in any event, I doubt that you really care. You have to worry about sewer gas odors in your home.

                  I am attempting to help you solve the odor problem in your home, not trying to attack the intelligence, or reveal the lack thereof, of Sylvan and Richard. They do an excellent job of displaying their collective ignorance. However I must respond to a couple of inaccuracies in their reasoning contained in the responses to your inquiry.

                  The first issue is Richard’s suggestion that you “throw some bleach down there”. We have already determined that there is a leak in the vent system. This was revealed when you stated that the City Sewer Department;

                  “poured a sweet smelling solution in the manhole. Upon entering my home, I immediately recognized the smell as the liquid poured in the manhole.”

                  So, even if you eliminate all of the odor causing bacteria living in the entire sewage collection system,(an impossible task) the odors will continue to enter your home through the leak when new bacteria repopulate the sewer. Sewer gas odors are an inherent characteristic of sewage collection systems. This is why traps, and gas tight venting systems are necessary. “Throwing” some bleach in each drain will however kill the odor causing bacteria that may exist in the trap, and on the side walls of the pipe above the water line.

                  The second issue is Sylvan’s ridiculous statements about lighting a bomb to generate smoke.

                  “YET you come along with your PEA SIZED brain saying USE A smoke BOMB.”


                  “I would STRONGLY suggest John you open your gas main full blast come back in a few hours and light a smoke BOMB in YOUR HOME then come on here and tell others how well you made out.”

                  I personally witnessed a Licensed Master Plumber perform a smoke test on a vent system in a home, and I can assure you that there was no lighting of any bombs. This plumber had a smoke generator that he connected to the vent system, and pumped in a small volume of cool smoke. A small amount of smoke came out of the crack in the cast Iron vent stack. The crack was repaired, and the odor problem was eliminated.

                  I hope this clarifies my opinions regarding these two issues. JWA

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