Monday, November 07, 2005

My basement smelled like sewage, but it is much better now

One of the most frustrating yet ultimately most satisfying aspects of owning a house is encountering any number of inherited or new problems and learning a cheap or free solution.

Increasingly, my basement was smelling like sewage. I just figured it was a passing thing, but the gas did not pass. So I thought of the number of things it could be:

1) Cat poop/litter box. The smell was poopy but not that kind of poopy. And the cats' leavings never leave that much of a lasting stink.

2) Dead animal, either in the basement or in the wall. I looked but didn't find anything. And besides, the smell was organic and bad but not rotten. More like really strong mildew and, well, sewage.

3) Stale air. The windows hadn't been opened since it got cold, but opening them was only a temporary solution.

Then in struck me: maybe something was off in the floor drain that leads to the catch basin? Eureka! It smelled really bad and was the source of the basement (and rising) stink.

What to do but head to the internet and search for "bad smell basment drain"?

Lo and behold, it turns out if the basement drain is not used often (check), you run a dehumidifier (check) and a boiler (check), the standing water in the drain and basin steadily evaporates, breaking the "seal" between the drain pipe and What Lies Beneath.

The solution? Dump several gallons of water down the drain. It doesn't get much easier than that, and it worked! The only downside is now I'm obsessed with filling buckets of water and watching the water trickle down the floor. Oh well. Beats that smell!


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