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Adios

Feb 1, 2014, 12:14 PM

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Smelly bathrooms

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We have been in the house 2 months ago today. The house had sat mostly unoccupied fo 1.5 years apparently. It is a very well made, 15 year old house. Shortly after moving in we noticed a very stale smell in the bathrooms. We figured it was the water and cleaned the cistern and the tinaco. For about a week everything smelled strongly of chlorine.

Now the smell is back. Someone had a look and declared that the pipes for the drains in the middle of the rooms were not long enough. The pipes had to extend down into the water - to act as a sort of seal for the smells. Is this correct ? Does it make sense ? What doesn't make wense is that WE need to change this after 15 years...

Thanks



mattoleriver

Feb 1, 2014, 1:53 PM

Post #2 of 27 (21610 views)

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Re: [charlie131120] Smelly bathrooms

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Here's a short article that may explain the problem.
http://www.mexconnect.com/...in-your-mexico-house

George


(This post was edited by Rolly on Feb 1, 2014, 2:20 PM)


sparks


Feb 1, 2014, 2:02 PM

Post #3 of 27 (21608 views)

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Re: [charlie131120] Smelly bathrooms

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Mexican houses are famous for not using "traps" to block smells and critters. Well they use them but not as efficiently as up north. A bathtub may have none and the drain in the shower acts as one kinda. Toilet has it's own.

>>> pipes for the drains in the middle of the rooms were not long enough. The pipes had to extend down into the water - to act as a sort of seal for the smells.

I have no idea what that means "down into the water". Yes water seals smells but with traps in the bathroom.

Stale may be moisture .... but a septic smell or sewer smell should be real fowl

Sparks Mexico Blog - Sparks Costalegre


rvgringo

Feb 1, 2014, 2:36 PM

Post #4 of 27 (21596 views)

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Re: [sparks] Smelly bathrooms

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If the pipes do not extend down into the water, sewer gas can come up. However, it may simply be a case of not enough water in those open drains, due to not being used frequently. Try pouring a pail or two of water down those drains and see if that helps. If so, be sure to do it often enough to keep the drain full and sealed; especially in the dry season, when evaporation is faster.


DavidHF

Feb 1, 2014, 3:12 PM

Post #5 of 27 (21592 views)

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Re: [rvgringo] Smelly bathrooms

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Use covers on floor and shower drains.


morgaine7


Feb 1, 2014, 4:28 PM

Post #6 of 27 (21586 views)

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Re: [charlie131120] Smelly bathrooms

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The article in the link posted by Mattoleriver explains the situation quite well. I've been in homes in Mexico where the floor and shower drains are covered with rubber discs similar to flat sink drain stoppers. My indoor drains have what the author calls "drum traps", though I had no idea they's what they were called. They work well apart from the evaporation problem mentioned, and the fact that they need periodic cleaning to remove hair, mop strands, soap scum, etc. It's not difficult, just sort of gross. On the patio, where the drains need to be free in case of rain, they have an insert with a flap that opens with the weight of water and otherwise stays closed by means of a magnet.

I don't understand, either, what is meant by extending the drain pipes "into the water". In my system, all the water that isn't held in a trap flows onward to the city sewer.

Kate


Rolly


Feb 1, 2014, 4:41 PM

Post #7 of 27 (21583 views)

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Re: [morgaine7] Smelly bathrooms

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The drum trap in my shower has worked flawlessly for 14 years. It does need cleaning two or three times a year -- no big deal.

Rolly Pirate


Adios

Feb 2, 2014, 6:21 AM

Post #8 of 27 (21546 views)

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Smelly bathrooms

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Thank you all for the education. I'm going to do some investigation and will report back.


sparks


Feb 2, 2014, 6:32 AM

Post #9 of 27 (21545 views)

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Re: [morgaine7] Smelly bathrooms

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>>>> If the pipes do not extend down into the water, sewer gas can come up.

That's what traps are for. None of my pipes that drain into a registro are covered in water. The pipe in the registro to septic or sewer is at water level but all others are well above

Sparks Mexico Blog - Sparks Costalegre


Adios

Feb 2, 2014, 9:16 AM

Post #10 of 27 (21527 views)

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Smelly bathrooms

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I took a ride into Home Depot this morning. I was standing in the plumbing aisle and this really helpful fellow customer (who said he was a plumber) asked what I was looking for. I explained the smelly bathrooms and at first he showed me a perhaps 2-3" piece of black plastic in the shape of a funnel. Next he picked up a complete drain (metal cover and white plastic which stood about 3-4" high and was about 12cm in diameter. At the same time he showed me a little grey plastic adapter which snapped into the bottom of the drain. The box said "eliminate odors". It allowed water to open a little trap door, which snapped shut when there was no water above.

Well I brought home the drain and adapter and when I removed the existing metallic drain cover I was disappointed to see that the drain consists of a very solid cement funnel which is about 6" deep. I stuck a screw driver in the hole and the water (which was about an inch below the cement funnel was only about 1/4" deep.

At this point I'm thinking of picking up the cheap black funnel extension and seeing if that is a solution. I hate the thought of chipping away the floor to accomodate the larger drain.

Edit ; btw - I didn't see anything in my fllor that looked at all like a 'trap'.


(This post was edited by charlie131120 on Feb 2, 2014, 9:24 AM)


sparks


Feb 2, 2014, 10:27 AM

Post #11 of 27 (21516 views)

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Re: [charlie131120] Smelly bathrooms

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Should be similar to a shower drain. Pull the cover off and that cover should extend down into a ring of water. No water in the ring -- no trap. Drain works by overflowing the ring

Sparks Mexico Blog - Sparks Costalegre


Adios

Feb 3, 2014, 7:51 AM

Post #12 of 27 (21475 views)

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Re: [charlie131120] Smelly bathrooms

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fwiw - I've (hopefully) attached a picture of our bathroom floor drain. It is simply a hole in the floor.

My solution of the moment is a conical plastic insert with a coflex "valvula para coladeras" as ween at this site :

http://www.coflex.com.mx/...NuevosProductos.aspx

Fingers crossed - but I think this may work.

Edit : can someone tell me why my 33kb jpeg doesn't appear ?

(This post was edited by charlie131120 on Feb 3, 2014, 7:52 AM)


sparks


Feb 3, 2014, 9:24 AM

Post #13 of 27 (21461 views)

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Re: [charlie131120] Smelly bathrooms

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NuevosProductos.aspx is the page .... not a graphic

Sparks Mexico Blog - Sparks Costalegre


Adios

Feb 3, 2014, 9:30 AM

Post #14 of 27 (21456 views)

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Re: [sparks] Smelly bathrooms

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Yes - posted both a link and a jpeg. The rather small jpeg does not appear. I specified 'inline'. Is it that my account is not allowed to post images ?


Rolly


Feb 3, 2014, 11:37 AM

Post #15 of 27 (21441 views)

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Re: [charlie131120] Smelly bathrooms

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That image function does not work.

A picture must have a URL. It cannot be posted as a jpeg from your computer.

Rolly Pirate


mattoleriver

Feb 3, 2014, 9:13 PM

Post #16 of 27 (21412 views)

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Re: [charlie131120] Smelly bathrooms

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... I stuck a screw driver in the hole and the water (which was about an inch below the cement funnel was only about 1/4" deep.

Have you tried simply adding water? It sounds like while the house was unoccupied the water evaporated out of the trap. If this is a seldom used floor drain it could happen.

George


sparks


Feb 4, 2014, 2:18 AM

Post #17 of 27 (21406 views)

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Re: [mattoleriver] Smelly bathrooms

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A P-trap in a shower or floor drain is unheard of in Mexico unless demanded by a Gringo. No trap ... you can't fill it

My traps dry out with multiple bathrooms but I don't get any smell. Still think something else is going on

Sparks Mexico Blog - Sparks Costalegre


AlanMexicali


Feb 4, 2014, 8:50 AM

Post #18 of 27 (21384 views)

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Re: [sparks] Smelly bathrooms

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A P-trap in a shower or floor drain is unheard of in Mexico unless demanded by a Gringo. No trap ... you can't fill it

My traps dry out with multiple bathrooms but I don't get any smell. Still think something else is going on


The floor drains in the laundry room and all our bathrooms do get dried out and smell sometimes and a bucket of water does the trick. Even the shower drains in bathrooms only visitors shower in. The smell is faint but there, and is in the 2nd floor closet that has a floor sink for mopping more often because it has a small window we keep open above it. I assume they are all the standard drum traps. In San Luis Potosí it is a dry climate, semi arid.


(This post was edited by AlanMexicali on Feb 4, 2014, 10:01 AM)


Adios

Feb 5, 2014, 5:54 AM

Post #19 of 27 (21345 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Smelly bathrooms

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Ok - I've uploaded image of drain in master bath to google's picasa. Let's see if I can post it now.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/...M/s144-c/Desktop.jpg




(This post was edited by Rolly on Feb 5, 2014, 7:49 AM)


rvgringo

Feb 5, 2014, 8:21 AM

Post #20 of 27 (21317 views)

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Re: [charlie131120] Smelly bathrooms

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Good photo, but I cannot see if there is water at the bottom; there should be water above the bottom edge of the funnel. If not, put water down the drain and see if it stays above the bottom. If it does, you have your answer: Evaporation and the need to be sure to add water regularly.
If not: You could use a piece of pipe to extend down into the water level and glue it in place, being careful to add a collar or bushing to prevent it going down too far.
It looks like the grate is missing. You could grind off the hinge parts and use a normal grate from the hardware store. A dab of goop will hold it in place.


(This post was edited by rvgringo on Feb 5, 2014, 11:15 AM)


AlanMexicali


Feb 5, 2014, 8:59 AM

Post #21 of 27 (21309 views)

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Re: [charlie131120] Smelly bathrooms

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Ok - I've uploaded image of drain in master bath to google's picasa. Let's see if I can post it now.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/...M/s144-c/Desktop.jpg




It looks like they did not use drum drain traps but have a cement box under the floor that is connected to other cement boxes that many houses use to collect and route sewage water under the floor and the toilets are routed differently and also might be some outside with a top you can remove to clean out cloggs where they all meet.

This type cannot be snaked out. My ex house in Mexicali had 3 cement boxes outside. One in the back sidewalk collecting from the upstairs bathroom and downstairs kitcken sink. One on the front sidewalk collecting from the bathroom on the main floor in the front of the house and the laundry room. One on the side of the driveway that went to the main drain in the middle of the street.

If you wonder why you smell sewer gas in some places sometimes it might be the owners have not sealed these cement sewer box covers with motar cement and they leak gas from the main street sewer or house and sometimes are not cleaned and are full of sewage.


(This post was edited by AlanMexicali on Feb 5, 2014, 9:07 AM)


morgaine7


Feb 5, 2014, 11:56 AM

Post #22 of 27 (21288 views)

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Re: [charlie131120] Smelly bathrooms

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I'm wondering about the blue part of the drain in the photo. Is it a separate piece, embedded in the concrete? If so, there may be a built-in trap at the bottom that simply needs regular filling with water, as RVGringo mentioned. Could be that it was constructed that way because the funnel was a smaller diameter than the drain opening, although in that case I don't see how it could be cleaned if it became blocked. Or it could be as Alan suggests, and there is no trap.

Kate


AlanMexicali


Feb 5, 2014, 12:12 PM

Post #23 of 27 (21284 views)

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Re: [morgaine7] Smelly bathrooms

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I'm wondering about the blue part of the drain in the photo. Is it a separate piece, embedded in the concrete? If so, there may be a built-in trap at the bottom that simply needs regular filling with water, as RVGringo mentioned. Could be that it was constructed that way because the funnel was a smaller diameter than the drain opening, although in that case I don't see how it could be cleaned if it became blocked. Or it could be as Alan suggests, and there is no trap.

Kate



I might venture to guess his drain system is what I have seen elsewhere. that the collection cement box in the cement floor is designed such that the blue funnel has the end in the wáter in the box and the pipes connecting the drain boxes are a few inches above the bottom of the box and the funnel should be in wáter and when wáter is added it rises and flows out the connecting pipes.

As I mentioned the only place the toilet drains flow might be to the outside cement collection boxes which has the drain leaving it at the side at the bottom, hopefully at a good grade so the pipe and box remains free of sewage to the street main.. He can check to see outside if there are any. They were/are very common in some places.


(This post was edited by AlanMexicali on Feb 5, 2014, 12:18 PM)


Adios

Feb 5, 2014, 1:10 PM

Post #24 of 27 (21269 views)

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Smelly bathrooms

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I filled the drain with water and came back after 15 minutes or so and the water fell to a level beneath the cement funnel. Here is an image of my solution of the moment :

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/...9mys/s128/drain2.jpg

This is how I had the drain sitting over night and this morning I stuck my nose right down in there and - it actually smelled nice. The bathroom itself still did not however. It isn't a port-o-john kind of smell. More like mold / mildew. I'm wondering if something is going on under the bathtub.


Adios

Feb 5, 2014, 1:18 PM

Post #25 of 27 (21265 views)

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Re: [AlanMexicali] Smelly bathrooms

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Our lot is on a bit of a slope. The street - where there are covered cement boxes near the driveway - is perhaps 40-50 feet higher than the back of the lot. There are no exposed boxes in the back but there is a 100 ft (or so) high wall (the lot below is wooded).

The previous owner did leave us the architectural plans which do have the fresh/stale water lines laid out. I'm going to have to study it some with the gardener - who has been here through three owners - and knows the house somewhat well.

Btw - thanks everybody for the ideas/suggestions.
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