3 Possible Causes of Persistent Leaks and Odors in Your Bathroom

Foul smells and signs of leaks that are hard to identify are often the causes of hidden leaks in drain pipes or airtight seals that otherwise keep water, waste, and gases at bay. Some investigating can often help you narrow down the cause of the problem. The causes are usually signs of trouble that need to be addressed by a professional immediately to mitigate water and waste damage to your home.

Broken Drain Pipes

If you notice that leaks or odors tend to be intermittent, or if you establish that you only notice signs of these issues while water is running, the problem may be less with your running water and more with your drain pipes. Supply pipes are always full, but drain pipes only have water or waste when something is being used, which can help you narrow down the source of the leak.

Start by checking the most easily accessible drains, such as sink drains that can often be accessed by panels or cabinets. If a leak isn't immediately visible, that doesn't mean it isn't there; it could be just behind a wall. Search for signs of damp wall material; it can help to use a moisture meter to be extra thorough. A plumber can help you establish where these leaks are located and make suggestions as necessary. Leaks can quickly lead to serious water damage, so they will need to be addressed immediately.

Leaks Under the Tub or Shower

Another place leaks can be more hidden is underneath your bathtub or shower. Water leaking underneath your tub won't necessarily flow out into your bathroom; instead, it can travel as far as different rooms, or the ceilings of other rooms if your bathroom is on the second floor. If you have wood floors, you may notice that the flooring in the vicinity of the bathroom, even if separated by walls, starts to show any signs of moisture damage.

Because of the distance water can travel before settling in an area and causing damage, don't rule out certain kinds of leaks because they appear to be too far from an appliance, faucet, or drain.

Failing Toilet Rings

Toilet pipes are sealed with a wax ring that prevents any waste or gases from escaping. If this seal starts to fade with age or is damaged, it can start to let out both gases from your sewer or septic as well as waste that should be going down the drain. Occasionally the breakage may be so minor that only gases escape, which can contribute to odors that only seem to happen at random. If the breakage is more severe, however, waste can start to leak from underneath the toilet, causing not just moisture damage, but a toxic mess.