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Lisa H. View Drop Down
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    Posted: 25-Jan-2001 at 1:07pm
We have a septic odor in our house that is driving us nuts. I've had plumbers and septic system engineers in, everyone is baffled (we have installed new vent pipes, and replaced the wax ring under the toilet). The last guy we had in is now saying, "Gee, maybe it's a dead animal somewhere". This has been going on for months, and the odor in the house is identical to my nose to the odor from the cleanout under the vent (which is normally sealed). I think the only way to figure this out is to do the peppermint oil test and/or smoke test I've read about here. I live in a really rural area, the plumbers here look at me like they have no clue what I'm talking about. Could someone give me a brief rundown of what these tests entail?
Thanks!
m
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SylvanLMP View Drop Down
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Joined: 04-Feb-2000
Location: New York City Unite
Points: 1979
Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jan-2001 at 6:48pm

2 ounces of oil of peppermint followed by 1 Quart of hot water poured down a vent terminal and the person handling the oil mixture is to keep out of the structure UNTIL this test is completed.

All windows to remian CLOSEd also during this test Good Luck

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John Aldrich View Drop Down
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Joined: 20-Feb-2000
Location: Timnath, Colorado US
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Jan-2001 at 9:33am
Lisa H., the peppermint oil test is certainly the procedure that should be performed for you to definitely determine the source of the odors occurring in your home. If the peppermint oil fragrance cannot be detected in the house after application to the plumbing system, then the odors are comming from something else.

I had a septic system client that insisted that the odors in her basement were coming from the septic system that I had designed, and installed to serve her new home. She called a meeting of the General Contractor for the house, the Licensed Master Plumber that installed the plumbing system in the house, and me, in an effort to resolve this obnoxious odor problem.

We all met at the home on a Saturday morning, and did a thorough walk through inspection of the entire plumbing system, including the septic system. I performed the Peppermint oil test, and eliminated the septic system, and the plumbing system as the source of the odors that were quite noticeable in the basement.

Upon further inspection, we found a half-eaten Subway Sandwich, and several dead mice floating in about 3 inches of fetid water which had collected on the bottom of a plastic pumping pit. The pumping pit was provided for a future bathroom, and was not connected to the rest of the home plumbing system. When I lifted the plastic lid from the pumping pit, the intense stench almost made me puke.

I doned my trusty gas mask, and my rubber gloves, removed the odorous, slimy, decomposing organic matter, and the water from the pumping pit, thorougly cleaned the pit with a chlorine bleach solution and water, and the problem was solved.

If you are not this lucky, and the peppermint oil test proves that the odors are coming from the plumbing system, then the next task is to locate the leak. It may be possible to determine the location of the leak with your sense of smell, but if you cannot, then a smoke test is in order.

I recommend that you contract with a Licensed Master Plumber to perform this test. Much damage can be done to your home if this test is performed incorrectly. If the local plumbers do not have the ability to do a "proper" smoke test, then widen the circle of influence, and call a Licensed Master Plumber from "away" who does have this ability.

Good Luck in your quest for an odor free home. JWA

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