LESLIE: Diane in Iowa is calling in with a tricky bathroom question. Tell us about it.
DIANE: We have two bathrooms and when we get a lot of company and a lot of bathroom activity – flushing – we get a backup; not a liquid but a smell. And it’s coming from one of the two bathrooms; whichever one it chooses to.
LESLIE: So it’s not both at the same time. It’s one or the other.
DIANE: Yeah, one or the other.
TOM: Hmm. Who’s in the bathroom when you get the sewer smell?
DIANE: Who’s in there? (Tom and Diane chuckle)
LESLIE: Tom’s looking to place blame. (Diane chuckles)
TOM: Just trying to nail down the parameters here. (Diane chuckles) Well, generally sewer smells are associated with a venting problem and that means that somehow the sewer gas is getting up into the living space as opposed to being vented outside. Now, has it always been this way or is it something that’s, you know, developed more recently?
DIANE: It developed when we put in the second bathroom.
TOM: Aha. You put in the second bathroom and you had the problem. OK, this kind of confirms my suspicion that there’s a problem with the venting. Have you had a plumber look at it?
DIANE: Yes, and we do get a gurgling sound, you know, every once in a while. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Ah, that’s more evidence of the same problem because if you’re not venting properly, you’re not getting enough air into the pipes. That causes the gurgling. You’ve got to get a plumber that knows what he’s doing and you’ve got to get to the bottom of the venting situation. It sounds to me like when the second bathroom was put in, the plumbing vents weren’t put in properly. That’s why you’re getting the sewer smell and the gurgling issue; because you don’t have enough air getting in to replace that which is flushed by the toilet.
DIANE: OK. So I need a plumber.
TOM: Crystal clear.
TOM: OK? But the good news is it really doesn’t matter who’s in the bathroom. (Leslie and Diane chuckle) Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.