A Peculiar Odor

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

One of the most common requests I get as a home inspector here in Connecticut has to do with trying to identify a strange odor in the home. This request is often made by a woman. This is probably because a woman's sense of smell is keener than a man's. This also probably explains why at least half the time I can't detect any "funny smell" in the house. That also applies at home too.

Something stinksMost offensive or unwanted odors in home are going to generally emanate from one of two rooms, the kitchen or the bathroom. There may be exceptions, but these two rooms are big odor generators.

Both of these rooms have plumbing. Half of the plumbing is the drains or waste pipes. In order for a drain to work properly and also be safe, yes a drain can be unsafe, the waste pipes must have vents. What the vent does is help the water to flow through the pipes easily.

The best example of how the vent works is pouring a bottle of water. If you tip the bottle straight down, the water pours out sporadically as it fights against the pull of gravity and air forcing its way in to replace the water. If you put a small hole (a vent) in the top of the bottle, the water flows out quickly and smoothly.

The other and more important reason for the vent is to prevent the drain traps from being siphoned off.  The bend in the drain under the sink is not for catching your wedding ring or earring if you drop it down the drain, all though that is a nice side benefit. No, the purpose of the trap is to form a seal against the sewage gases that are present in the drain lines. Some of these gases are unhealthy, even deadly in large enough quantities.

Plumbing vent in atticSo it stands to reason that the drain lines in the home must be vented outside. Most every house has at least one through the roof while some older homes have them through the foundation wall above grade.

While inspecting an attic the other morning, I ventured down near one end. There I found that the addition had been connected to the original attic. I wasn't expecting this because the room I saw in the home had a cathedral ceiling.

I was glad I found it. Upon slipping through an opening between the framing I was greeted by this, one of the original plumbing vents through the roof. The builders had never extended the pipe through the new roof.

Bathroom vent piped into plumbing ventAs I turned around and enter the other small attic space for the addition I was introduced to this gem. I couldn't help myself and let out a laugh.

If you aren't sure what you're seeing, that is the bathroom fan vent hose on the left connected into the waste vent for the additions plumbing. I wonder how the drains work when the fan is running. Or if the bathroom reeks when the fan isn't on.

My guess would be not pleasant and potentially dangerous.

 

 

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
2010 - 2011 SNEC-ASHI President
NRSB #8SS0022
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services. Learn more about our home energy audits, the Home Energy Tune uP®.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.

Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.

close

Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Mona Gersky 07/10/2011 01:57 AM
Topic:
ActiveRain Community
Location:
Connecticut New Haven County
Groups:
Almost Anything Goes
"Whacked"!!!
Blogs Happen...
Bananatude
WeBlog Anything (almost)!
Tags:
home inspections in connecticut ct
plumbing vents in the attic
bathroom vents plumbed incorrectly

Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Ambassador
642,949
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

James, I am always in awe of home inspectors and the breadth of knowledge they need to have to do a good job.  Plumbing, venting, p traps...I can say the words, but the definitions elude me.  I try to keep on the good side of my favorite inspectors and appreciate them daily.  If you worked here, I can tell you'd be one I'd refer to.  Without you folks, how would home buyers ever know what bizarre and creative piping existed in weird attic places!

Jul 10, 2011 01:51 AM #1
Ambassador
642,949
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

I hope you don't mind if I re-blog!

Jul 10, 2011 01:51 AM #2
Rainmaker
3,271,389
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

In the inspector's world of "do not do this", where does this gem rank? Enjoy the day!

Jul 10, 2011 01:52 AM #3
Rainmaker
621,479
Deborah Byron Leffler BzyBee Real Estate Lady!
Keller Williams Realty Boise - Nampa, ID

I am sure you see it all every day....glad that they hired you to find out where the smell comes from!!!  My last compay I worked in...ha d a horrible odor in the bath room...we had to regularly pour water down the floor drains to make it bearable!   and it was a pretty new building!

Jul 10, 2011 02:13 AM #4
Rainmaker
490,619
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim,

If you need more of those photos I have them ; ) In one of my recent blogs I had the ol vent pipe in attic shot.

Jul 10, 2011 11:10 AM #5
Rainmaker
490,619
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim,

 Here is your theme song-

"That Smell"

 

Jul 10, 2011 11:14 AM #6
Rainmaker
1,244,561
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

James,

I have seen that very connection, years back, down at Charlie Buell's house.

Jul 10, 2011 11:33 AM #7
Rainer
171,130
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

On that last shot it doesn't look as if anything is going outside. It must be a real hummer, hmmmm, hmmmm...

Jul 10, 2011 02:08 PM #8
Rainmaker
686,484
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Mona, Thanks, you are too kind. And of course I don't mind :)

Wayne, Way up.

Deborah, Sounds like the traps were being siphoned off. No doubt a bad installation.

Don, Saw your stinky pipe shot. Good song!

Steve, I'm not surprised. Probably done when he was attempting to tutor Nutsy.

Robert, It's going out, the rafter blocks the view.

Jul 11, 2011 01:23 AM #9
Rainer
55,780
Peter Schattenfield
Turning Point Estate Services LLC - Wilton, CT
Estate Dissolution and Preparation (203)388-8092 CT.

James, I am wondering how something like this passes a final inspection. It come down to people not going all the way into the attic for whatever reason to do their job.

Jul 13, 2011 02:18 AM #10
Rainmaker
686,484
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Peter, I wonder the same.

Jul 14, 2011 12:30 PM #11
Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?

Rainmaker
686,484

James Quarello

Connecticut Home Inspector
Ask me a question
*
*
*
*
Spam prevention