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Is Sewer Gas Dangerous?


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Every homeowner has had to deal with unpleasant and unexpected issues in their home, from electrical problems to plumbing challenges. One issue that often raises alarm bells is the presence of an unpleasant rotten egg smell, indicating the presence of sewer gas. This brings us to the pressing question: Is sewer gas dangerous?

Let’s discuss whether or not sewer gas is harmful and how homeowners can address this concern effectively.

What Is Sewer Gas?

Before we can dive into whether or not sewer gas is dangerous to have in your home, it’s important to know what it is. Sewer gas, by its very nature, is a complex mixture of various gases. These gases are produced during the breakdown of organic matter in sewage.

The most prevalent components of sewer gas include methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide. Methane is odorless but can become flammable when mixed with other gases. The rotten egg smell often associated with sewer gas is mainly due to hydrogen sulfide, a gas that, in high amounts, can be particularly harmful.

Is Sewer Gas Harmful?

If you have a family, it’s natural to be worried when you detect the presence of sewer gases in your home. Therefore, it’s important to understand whether these gases pose any health risks.

When it comes down to it, yes — in several instances, sewer gas is harmful, especially when exposure is prolonged or occurs in high concentrations. Continuous exposure can lead to a variety of health issues; the severity depends on the concentration of gas and the duration of exposure.

Health Implications

As you can see, sewer gas is dangerous in some instances, such as when it is present in heavy concentrations. Symptoms of exposure to sewer gas can range from mild to severe, including:

  • Headaches and nausea: These are common symptoms that might appear after short-term exposure.
  • Impaired sense of smell: Over time, exposure to hydrogen sulfide can affect one’s ability to detect the smell of rotten eggs.
  • Impact on the nervous system: At levels beyond 100 PPM, hydrogen sulfide can affect the nervous system and even lead to sewer gas poisoning.

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What Happens if You Are Exposed to Sewer Gas for Long Periods?

Long-term exposure to sewer gas can have more severe consequences. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Loss of consciousness: In cases where individuals are exposed to very high concentrations, there’s a risk of fainting.
  • Methane gas risks: Methane, one of the components of sewer gas, is not toxic on its own but can displace oxygen in enclosed areas, leading to asphyxiation risks.
  • Toxicity at high concentrations: If the concentration of hydrogen sulfide exceeds parts per million (PPM) levels, it can be fatal. For example, at concentrations beyond 100 PPM, immediate danger to life and health can arise.

Causes of Sewer Gas Leaks in Homes

For homeowners, it’s helpful to know that sewer gas is dangerous in some instances. However, it’s just as crucial to understand what can cause sewer gas to leak into a home. Most commonly, these gases enter homes due to:

  • Cracked or broken sewer lines: Over time, sewer lines can wear down. These weakened lines can then lead to leaks, allowing sewer gas to seep into the home. Opting for a sewer line replacement might be the best solution in such cases.
  • Dry traps: Every drain has a water barrier that prevents sewer gases from coming back up. If a drain is not used for an extended period, the water barrier can dry up, allowing gases to enter the home.

How to Protect Your Home From Sewer Gas Leaks

Are you determined to safeguard your home from the potential dangers posed by toxic gases? You may be pleased to know that there are several proactive steps you can take to ensure your family’s safety and the integrity of your living space. 

  • Regular inspections: Get your sewer lines checked regularly to detect any potential issues. This can help determine if any section of the line is cracked or broken.
  • Keep the traps wet: Pouring a bucket of water down seldom-used drains can prevent the traps from drying out.
  • Consider sewer relining: If there are minor issues with the sewer lines, sewer relining might be an effective solution without the need for complete replacement.

Schedule Your Sewer Services Today

While the occasional whiff of sewer gas might not pose immediate health risks, prolonged exposure, especially in high amounts, can be hazardous. Understanding the potential dangers and taking prompt action can prevent health implications and safeguard the well-being of all household members.

If you’re in Seattle, WA, or the surrounding areas and suspect a sewer gas leak, don’t wait. Schedule your sewer services with Harts Services today and ensure the safety and comfort of your home!

Harts Author

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Harts Services

We’re a local company proudly providing affordable sewer and pipe repairs, installations, and maintenance to help make our community a more comfortable place for all.


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