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Question DetailsAsked on 6/11/2016

Foul toxic odor in bathroom. It started after remodel. Always happens between 11 - 12 on a warm day. Any ideas??

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2 Answers


I would assume either the toilet seal was not correctly put in (so there is fluid leaking from the toilet base), you have a leaking sewer pipe joint in the bathroom, or they failed to complete installation of a vent connection or under-sink air vent. Or could be a water leak (water pipe or tub/shower base or drain pipe leak) causing mold/fungus growth in floor or wall. If you got a shower redone from scratch, could be a failed water barrier drain in the shower or a leaking pan, resulting in floor mold/rot. Or an animal took up residence in the framing or vent duct during construction (if it was open to the outside) and got trapped and died. Or if very recent remodel, worker left his lunch in the wall or floor and it got sealed in and is putrefying now. I suppose some types of drinks could possibly do that too over time if a can of something was left sitting in the framing and got drywalled in.

Time to call the contractor back to track it down and fix it under warranty.

Toilet seal failure usually smells like urine around the base of the toilet and/or adjacent floor area, broken/loose drain/sewer pipe connection usually smells like raw sewage, open vent pipe/vent smells like sewage and/or hydrogen sulfide (egg yolk smell), dead animal commonly like a putrid greasy rotten garbage smell. Clean water leak will commonly first smell like mildew/mold, then eventually an earthy (sometimes pungent) mushroomy smell as wood fungus grows with dry/wet rot development. Wet rot tends to smell a lot stronger and more sharply pungent - some people describe it as rotting vegetation smell.

The 11-12 o'clock thing - unless you have an attic or whole house fan that kicks on then, or maybe that is when your A/C kicks on because it has just gotten hot enough to kick on for the first time during the day, can't explain why it would happen at only that time. If ventilation kicks on for the first time that time of day, then it could pull the odor out of the floors or walls into the bathroom, but as it continues to run during the day then keep enough airflow moving that it dilutes the odor, then it builds up again overnight preparatory to the next day's cycle. OR could be same reason, and it is just about that time of day that the attic gets hot enough to pull a partial vacuum on the house (through air leaks from the house into the attic), causing air movement out of the walls or floors towards the attic, pulling the smell into the bathroom.

Two other possibilities - though I would not expect it to be just that time of day - they failed to reconnect the sewer vent pipe through the roof so it is venting into the attic and drifting down into the hosue, or they failed to connect the bathroom fan ducting to the vent hood on the roof so it is picking up odors from the attic (rot, mildew, etc) - or possibly both - open vent pipe in the attic feeding into open bathroom fan duct. Same thing could also happen if they redid the venting from the bathroom through the roof and failed to maintain the prescribed (geanerally 3-6 feet) spacing between the sewer vent pipe and the other vents so the sewer gas is circulating back in through the bathroom fan vent and duct to the bathroom.

One other possibility - your contractor got ahold of some of the defective chinese drywall, which exudes sulfuric acid when it get humid or damp, or contractor used drywall rather than concrete backer board in shower or tub surround and it has gotten wet and is stinking - these commonly have a slightly sulfer smelling acidic smell, but wet drywall can grow pretty heavy mold so you can get a pronounced mildew/mold smell that commonly smells like wet laundry that got forgetten in the washer and wend mildewy.

If you get a ladder or high chair to smell around the bathroom ceiling fan, and crawl around on hands and knees and smell each area of the bathroom during the time the smell occurs, you may be able to tie down the source.

Might take opening up some walls to look (eyeball inspection holes or fiber optic scope (about 1/2" holes) to look for wetness, staining, mold, fungus in walls and floor.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


BTW - I meant to include these links on similar previous questions about sources of odors - you mightr scan through them for thoughts on possible sources - though things like floor drain might not apply in your case, for instance.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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