Four things you should know about sewer gas if you’re experiencing sewage odors in your building:

When the interior of a building begins to smell like sewage, it is usually a sign that sewer gas is penetrating the building. Sewer gas odor issues in a building need to be corrected as quickly as possible. Sewer gas inside a building doesn’t only make the building unpleasant for those inside, but it also creates numerous health hazards.

The following are four things it’s important to be aware of if you’re looking for sewage and fecal matter cleanup services to remedy an unpleasant sewage odor in your building:

1. Sewer gas is naturally produced in septic systems as bacteria breaks down sewage.

In a properly functioning sewage system, sewer gas should be produced but prevented from getting inside the building. Sewer gas is produced by anaerobic bacteria that feeds on sewage and helps to break down solids within either a septic tank or a sewer. Sewer gas can contain a wide variety of components including methane, hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and nitrogen. Of all of these components, hydrogen sulfide is the most odorous and the most responsible for the unpleasant smell of sewer gas.

2. Sewer gas odors don’t just smell bad; they can also be unhealthy to breath in for those inside an affected building.

Many of the components of sewer gas can be harmful to the health of those who breathe it in. Hydrogen sulfide is harmful because it can work as a depressant on the nervous system. This can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and dizziness. Hydrogen sulfide can also cause infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

Methane is another component of sewer gas that can create health hazards. Methane gas is not only harmful to the body like hydrogen sulfide, but it can also create a fire hazard. Methane makes sewer gas highly flammable. It can drastically increase the risk of fire inside a home if it is present at a high enough concentration.

3. Sewer gas is normally prevented from entering a building through the “p-traps” built into the drains in the building’s plumbing system.

A building’s plumbing system is designed to keep sewer gas out. Every drain in a building is typically equipped with a “p” shaped section of piping that vents the drain and forms a kind of a seal that keeps sewer gas out. Sewer gas issues are typically caused by malfunctioning p-traps.

Malfunctions in the drains that lead to sewer gas leaks can be caused in a variety of ways. Simple neglect of a building over a long period of time could cause p-traps to malfunction. Also, severe damage to a home caused by a natural disaster, for example, could allow sewer gas to penetrate a building.

4. Sewer gas leaks can be detected and located through the use of a smoke machine.

A provider of sewage and fecal matter cleanup services can fix sewer gas odor issues by locating sewer gas leaks with a smoke machine. This type of machine will create visible artificial smoke that can be channeled into a drain to see if it can penetrate fixture traps. Any penetrations by the smoke indicate a leak that is allowing sewage odors to reach the inside of the building.