Are you experiencing sewer gas smells in your Chicago building? Sewer gas often smells like rotten eggs and/or sulfur. It’s primarily comprised of hydrogen sulfide, methane, and ammonia, but it can contain other chemicals. It’s important to note that sewer gas isn’t toxic at low levels, but there is such a thing as sewer gas poisoning, so it’s very important to have all reports of sewer gas smells investigated immediately.

Understanding the Components of Sewer Gas and Reasons Behind Sewer Gas Poisoning

Sewer gas poisoning is extremely rare, but it can occur when there are high concentrations in an enclosed or open area. The primary component of sewer gas is hydrogen sulfide, and at high levels, it’s been known to cause organ damage. In severe cases, it has even lead to death.

The second most well-known component of sewer gas is ammonia. While you can buy this for cleaning your home in large plastic containers, and it’s in your cat’s urine, it’s not healthy to inhale large amounts of it. In small to moderate amounts, it can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. In high amounts, it can cause organ damage.

Methane is the next most common gas found in sewer gas. Methane isn’t considered toxic, but it is flammable, and in high quantities, it can ignite, causing explosions and fires.

Symptoms of Sewer Gas Poisoning

Sewer gas smells like rotten eggs or sulfur. It’s very similar to the smell added to natural gas. Therefore, if you smell rotten eggs, and you know there are no rotten eggs fermenting in your trash can, call a professional immediately to ascertain the cause of the smell and correct it.

Mild Symptoms

  • Exhaustion or fatigue
  • Mild to moderate headaches
  • Upset stomach, nausea, or vomiting
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • A decrease in your ability to concentrate

Severe Symptoms

  • Mild to moderate irritation of the mouth, nose, throat, eyes, and/or tongue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Inability to smell
  • Shaking or seizures
  • Falling into a coma or losing consciousness
  • Organ failure and death

What to Do if You Think You’ve Been Exposed to Sewer Gas

There’s no medical test for exposure to sewer gas. If you experience any of the severe symptoms, you should see a medical provider right away for treatment. When you first smell sewer gas, it’s important to open all the windows and doors to dilute the gas and the stench. Then, go outside and breathe some fresh air while you call a licensed plumber, such as the technicians at NuFlow to diagnose and correct the problem.

What Causes Sewer Gas Smells

Sewer gas smells are typically caused by plumbing problems. These can include:

  • Cracked Drain Pipes – Cracks and holes in drain pipes can allow sewer gases to enter your building.
  • Cracked Vent Stacks – Cracks and holes in vent stacks, which are responsible for air balancing your plumbing system, can lead to sewer gas smells
  • Dry Plumbing – When drains, especially shower, sink, and toilet traps, are infrequently used, they can dry out. This eliminates the water barrier and allows sewer gas into the affected room.
  • Broken Toilet Seal – if the toilet seal becomes dislodge or the toilet becomes loose, it can lead to sewer gas smells.

What Can You Do About Sewer Gas Smells in Your Building

If you suspect your sewer gas smell is the result of a dry drain or trap, pour water down the suspected fixture or floor drain. Next, air out the room. If the sewer gas smell returns, you’ll probably need a camera inspection from a licensed plumbing professional, like the technicians at NuFlow in order to find the source of the sewer gas leak so that it can be repaired.

Getting Sewer Gas Smells Professionally Removed and Repaired with NuFlow

Getting sewer gas smells removed and repaired starts with a camera inspection. Camera inspections can help find cracks, holes, and corrosion in vent stacks, waste stacks, drain pipes, and sewer pipes. During the process, the camera is threaded down the suspected problem pipe, and the images it sees are displayed on a screen as well as recorded for later viewing. Once the cause of the sewer gas leak has been identified, it can be repaired. Here at NuFlow, our Chicago pipelining technicians use epoxy pipe liners to eliminate sewer gas smells.

These liners fit inside your existing pipe, sealing cracks, leaks, and holes so that sewer gas cannot enter your building. Once the pipe liner has cured, they have been known to last as long as 50 years, which means that you won’t have to worry about any further deterioration of the pipe. Not to mention, each pipelining job comes with a 10-year warranty.

To learn more about pipelining and how it can help get rid of sewer gas smells in your Chicago building, give us a call at 815-790-9000.