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Locating A Plumbing Odor


Mold Smell

Dear Concord Carpenter,

Our bathroom is only a few years old.  These past few months we have noticed a strong mold like smell.  We have a shower stall, a tub, sink and toilet in this bathroom.  The tub is rarely used and is super clean, all other fixtures are used and cleaned regularly.

There is no visible mold in the room and we run the bathroom exhaust fan all the time.    Any ideas?

thanks, Andrea

Dear Andrea,

Three things come to mind. 

  1. Tub drain
  2. Toilet seal
  3. Shower door

The first one is the tub.  If this tub has been unused for a long time the plumbing trap may have dried up causing sewer or septic gas / smells to enter the room.  Plumbing traps are designed to hold some water to seal out these gases, not using the fixture can allow the water to evaporate from the trap.

To combat this, run the water for a few minutes once a week when cleaning to keep the trap full.

The next thing to check is the toilet.  Can you rock it side to side?  You should not be able to and if it does move it may have a leaking seal which can cause sub floor rot and mold.  If your toilet is rocking, replace the wax seal and bolts and tighten the toilet securely to the floor.

The last thing to check would be the hinges and under the drip tray on a glass shower enclosure.  Mold can develop in these areas and not be easily seen.  Open the door and  look closely at the hinges, at the bottom of the door many units have tray that diverts water from the door seam and back into the shower pan.  Check under this tray.

Good luck and report back what you discover.

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