Periodically, I am encountering a very sulfurous smell in my house (1945 construction, interior completely remodeled/renovated in 2012). It smells strongly of sewage.

The smell is strongest in the adjoining kitchen, which does have a bathroom above it.

However, I don't believe that the smell is related to the bathroom. Because of an unrelated problem (poor caulking around the upstairs tub leading to small water leaks into the kitchen ceiling), I have cut a small hole in the kitchen ceiling, basically directly underneath the bathroom. When I sniff around there, there's no sewage smell at all, so it's probably not a leaking toilet or anything.

In the corner cabinet in my kitchen, there is a persistent smell, but not as strong as the periodic smell I am encountering.

The connector to city sewage runs under my kitchen, in fact, directly under where that corner cabinet is. However, I've looked at the pipes in the basement/crawlspace, and cannot see any leaks, nor can I smell any sewage at all.

Finally, sometimes the smell isn't in the kitchen, but in the adjoining living room, which has absolutely no plumbing in any adjacent wall or above or below.

My question is: is there something I should worry about and pay a plumber to investigate, or is my dog just showing me her love?

  • You can get sewer gasses from sinks that you don't use regularly if enough water in the P-trap evaporates. Have you checked for that?
    – Niall C.
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 16:47
  • @NiallC. Yes, that was the first thing I checked for. We have a downstairs shower that seldom gets used, but that's it. However, there is no odor that emanates from anywhere near that bathroom.
    – Emily
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 16:52
  • We had a rat die in the attic and the smell was awful but only when we had a lot of wind. It was more "rancid" than sewage smell but might be relevant.
    – Jason
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 19:07
  • Neither sulfur nor sewage smells are pleasant but they are also normally rather different odors. I live near Yellowstone (volcanic vents) and work near sewage treatment facilities, I experience both on a regular basis. Are you sure the kids found all the eggs from last Easter's egg hunt? Or stashed one of their finds?
    – bcworkz
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 19:43
  • @bcworkz No kids :) The smell in the corner cabinet does smell a little different than the sewage smell; I haven't ruled out a dead squirrel or something underneath (currently trying to figure out how to get underneath without breaking anything). As far as the smell I smell, well, let's just say my experience is taco night.
    – Emily
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 19:45

1 Answer 1


“Periodically” is the key word. Keep a log of what water usage (if any) you’re using when the offensive odors blossom and look for correlations. Might want to keep a log of what you’re feeding the dog too. (grin) The source of odors may have nothing to do with your water usage. A friend can tell the speed of the wind by fluttering of water in one of the toilets, when it is really windy a stink will fill the house. He’s had the vent pipes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drain-waste-vent_system) cleaned to no avail. Another friend can tell when the neighbor gives their dogs baths, apparently the abundance of soap bubbles interfere with the vents. (Too long for a comment.)

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