If the toilet smells like rotten eggs when flushed, do not ignore it. This smell usually indicates sewer gasses, telling you that the plumbing line isn’t working properly. Sewer gasses result when human waste breaks down. It results in a mixture of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia gasses, creating that rotten egg smell.
Sewer gasses are composed primarily of odorless methane gas. It is the hydrogen sulfide that gives it that rotten egg smell. Hydrogen sulfide happens when organic matter is broken down and decomposed, adding ammonia and carbon dioxide into the mix. These gasses are toxic to people.
Why Does My Toilet Smell Like Sulfur?
Your toilet smells like Sulfur because of clogged drain pipes, blocked air vents or leaks in your home’s sewer system. Sulfur is a component of Hydrogen Sulfide which is created as human wasted is broken down in the sewer. The P-trap in your toilet is the first line of defense against sewer gas smell making it into your home.
The P-trap contains water which blocks sewer gas from making it up into your home. It absorbs and neutralizes the smell.
Why Does My Toilet Smell like Rotten Eggs?
Modern plumbing permits sewage and sewer gasses to exit the home undetected. If the plumbing is working correctly, homeowners will never notice a rotten egg stench. Why it suddenly smells is due to the following reasons:
- A Dry Trap. This portion of a pipe holds water and has a seal that keeps sewer odors from entering the home. If the water evaporates or the seal becomes damaged, the gasses could be backing up into the home. This often happens when a toilet is infrequently used (water pipe dries up) and allows gasses to back up in the toilet. The gas rises through the toilet water and into the bathroom. If you find rust stains in the toilet, it may indicate the toilet hasn’t been used regularly. Therefore, there may be a dry trap. Homeowners can try to pour water down the toilet or flush to fill the P-trap. You may hear gurgling sounds coming from the toilet, but the sewer odor should evaporate. If it is still present, there may be another problem.
- Clogged toilets and drains also create that rotten egg smell as well. Things become more serious when a broken drain line or vent pipe exists. It affects more than the bathroom area and can make the entire house smell putrid. In this case, grab the plunger and try to loosen the source of the clog. Once the toilet flushes properly, the smell tends to dissipate. If the clog will not move, it may be time to contact a plumber.
- Septic tank blockages can additionally cause unpleasant odors. Clogs may be near or at the drains, in the toilet, or the septic tank. Sewage, in this case, is unable to flow fluidly through the septic tank system, causing gasses to back up through the drains or toilets.
- Bad bacteria can contain smelly microorganisms that come up through your toilet. They cling to the toilet bowl and multiply, which usually happens in humid and hot conditions allowing the bacteria to grow and thrive.
You can eliminate them with bleach. Instead of swishing it around the toilet, place some in the flush valve or overflow pipe. It will eliminate all bacteria located in the system.
- When the wax sealing ring becomes loose under the toilet, tiny gaps may allow sewage gas to enter the toilet. If your toilet is wobbly, this is probably the case. Hidden toilet bowl cracks may also cause a leak. After flushing, water levels drop, and bad odors can back up into the bathroom. A plumber is needed to fix this issue.
If the sewer gas smell is faint, it isn’t hazardous. When the smell becomes strong or if left untreated, it can be a problem. Methane found in sewer gas displaces oxygen and creates a deadly situation in small spaces.
The gas itself contains bacteria, so the gas is indeed dangerous.
Can Sewer Gas Make You Unwell?
Due to sewer gas being a mixture of various gasses, it can make you sick. If it is at low levels, you are fine. If the gas level is high or you are in a small space, you can become seriously ill.
The danger isn’t in the home itself, but if you attempt to enter the septic tank to resolve the issue. Sewer gas can be fatal in these areas due to the concentration. The result can be gastrointestinal problems or issues with the respiratory system.
What Do You Do?
If the toilet is clogged and you smell rotten eggs, call in a professional. The bacteria found in the contaminated water accompanied with the sewer gas (may be dangerous) is not an issue to take lightly. It is best left with a professional who can locate and handle the smell.
To minimize or prevent hydrogen sulfide gasses from entering the home, ensure the plumbing fixtures and pipes are adequately maintained and installed properly. If the rotten egg smell is permeating the home, call a plumber who can fix it safely.
Never ignore the rotten egg smell coming from a toilet, as it could be dangerous to your health. For the most part, if the toilet gives off a sulfur smell, harmful bacteria are in the water. If the bathroom smells like a sewer, it can be due to the P-trap or damage to the toilet.
If the toilet smells like ammonia (pee), you may need to give it a good cleaning. The wax seal could be broken or loose.
You can fix most issues at the bathroom level. However, if it involves a septic system, call in a professional. Doing it yourself can result in harmful effects to your body from the gasses permeating the area.
Septic tanks are in small, enclosed spaces. Dealing with it yourself will not allow you to escape the dangerous fumes emanating from this area. It will cause your body great harm and can kill you. Always leave treating this situation to a professional.
Make sure all your bathroom fixtures are properly installed and maintained. Check them regularly for signs of wear and tear to catch any problems early and ensure that you can deal with any issue quickly.