The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10-15-2012, 10:17 PM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: The Nasty Nati
Posts: 14,923
Why does my master bath toilet smell like shit?

Allrighty, not literal shit...but it smells like a truck stop trough-style urinal. I have no idea why this is like it is. I keep my toilets generally clean. There's no mold or anything. But recently I started noticing this foul aroma emanating from the commode.

So, in spite of the fact that I know that you really shouldn't use chlorine tablets in your toilet, I bought a couple tablets and plunked them in there.

It over time has mitigated the smell somewhat, but I can still smell that distinct "urinal" smell from it, just now it's masked some by a strong chlorine smell.

What am I missing here? The inside of the toilet tank is clean, fresh water. The bowl has what appears to be fresh water. There is no residual filth or mold in the bowl. Could it be the wax seal or something is contaminated somehow? I have two sons whom sometimes forget to flush when they pee but not often enough to generate this odor.

It isn't sickeningly strong, but it is noticeable and wasn't there before. What's changed? What could it be?

Last edited by FoieGrasIsEvil; 10-15-2012 at 10:18 PM..
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 10-15-2012, 10:21 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: NH
Posts: 19,740
What you're missing is that you're cleaning the wrong thing. Get a mop, thoughly mop the floor around and behind the toilet. Then use a magic eraser or damp sponge on the walls nearest the toilet.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 10-15-2012, 10:27 PM
Zulema Zulema is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Boys. That says it all.

Unscrew the toilet seat from the base and check for dried pee in the hinge area. Even if you can't see any try soaking the whole thing in the bathtub for a while to get rid of any hidden smells.

Clean around the base of the toilet under the edge where caulk is supposed to be if the caulk is missing.

Stand at the toilet, pretend you're a little boy peeing, turn in a circle. Clean all these areas. Can they hit the side of a cabinet, a wall, a shower curtain. Clean EVERYWHERE.

In between the tank and the bowl there's sometimes a horizontal flat area that acts like a pee shelf. Get a towel wet and pull it through and scrub around.

Look for peed on items in cupboards and places where pee could have seeped under cabinets.

Last resort, pull the toilet out and replace the seal and clean underneath it really good, then make sue to caulk the base so pee can't get underneath.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 10-15-2012, 10:43 PM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: The Nasty Nati
Posts: 14,923
OK. I also wonder if it's in my carpeting. Yes, my entire master bathroom is carpeted in that low-pile stuff, except for the tiled area around the shower enclosure. I am wondering now if maybe enough accumulation of "near misses" by my boys may have contaminated the carpet or padding that surrounds the toilet.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 10-15-2012, 10:44 PM
Scumpup Scumpup is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
There shouldn't be caulk around the base of the toilet. The toilet has a big, soft wax ring that acts as a gasket between it and the poo pipe. If that ring has deteriorated, as they all do over time, you may be getting some leakage under the toilet. Depending on where the toilet is, odor may be the only (easy) way to notice. If you have piss water soaking into your floor and sub-floor, this is a bad thing,
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 10-15-2012, 10:52 PM
VOW VOW is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
It's the carpet.

I think carpeting in a bathroom is foul.

I also hate carpeting in a dining area.

And all tan-ecru-beige-"light brown" and every color contained within that spectrum should be BANNED from being used in carpet.

Get rid of the carpet.

Buy bathroom rugs and wash frequently.


~VOW
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 10-15-2012, 11:02 PM
j666 j666 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2002
Good advice, except, insert "Have the kids ..." before "Unscrew", "Clean", "In between", and "Look for". Nothing else will be as effective at improving their aim.

But don't let them try to replace the wax ring.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zulema View Post
Boys. That says it all.

Unscrew the toilet seat from the base and check for dried pee in the hinge area. Even if you can't see any try soaking the whole thing in the bathtub for a while to get rid of any hidden smells.

Clean around the base of the toilet under the edge where caulk is supposed to be if the caulk is missing.

Stand at the toilet, pretend you're a little boy peeing, turn in a circle. Clean all these areas. Can they hit the side of a cabinet, a wall, a shower curtain. Clean EVERYWHERE.

In between the tank and the bowl there's sometimes a horizontal flat area that acts like a pee shelf. Get a towel wet and pull it through and scrub around.

Look for peed on items in cupboards and places where pee could have seeped under cabinets.

Last resort, pull the toilet out and replace the seal and clean underneath it really good, then make sue to caulk the base so pee can't get underneath.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 10-16-2012, 12:03 AM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: The Nasty Nati
Posts: 14,923
Quote:
Originally Posted by VOW View Post
It's the carpet.

I think carpeting in a bathroom is foul.

I also hate carpeting in a dining area.
Much to my chagrin and laziness WRT tiling some floors, FWIW I have both.

I do so love my spaghetti sauce stains on the carpet in front of my stove.

I suppose it's possible it's the carpet, but I have checked, it's dry and so is the padding and sub-floor. Could the carpeting really hold this strong of a urine odor due to repeated exposure even while dry to the touch?
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 10-16-2012, 02:46 AM
Zulema Zulema is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scumpup View Post
There shouldn't be caulk around the base of the toilet. The toilet has a big, soft wax ring that acts as a gasket between it and the poo pipe. If that ring has deteriorated, as they all do over time, you may be getting some leakage under the toilet. Depending on where the toilet is, odor may be the only (easy) way to notice. If you have piss water soaking into your floor and sub-floor, this is a bad thing,
Yes, but the wax ring is small and round and the base of the toilet is large and oblong. There is room around the edge of the toilet base, between the toilet and the floor, for pee to seep under. I'm talking about the under the toilet that is wider than the wax ring.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 10-16-2012, 03:30 AM
Hilarity N. Suze Hilarity N. Suze is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil View Post
Much to my chagrin and laziness WRT tiling some floors, FWIW I have both.

I do so love my spaghetti sauce stains on the carpet in front of my stove.

I suppose it's possible it's the carpet, but I have checked, it's dry and so is the padding and sub-floor. Could the carpeting really hold this strong of a urine odor due to repeated exposure even while dry to the touch?
You know what, after seeing what was mopped up from around the toilet used by my boys, I can't believe your carpet could be pristine, and yeah, it can hold this odor forever. It's pee in your carpet, man. Even when they hit the target, if there's water in there there will be a splash (and my boys weren't that great at hitting it, although they thought they were).

I mean, my husband did not believe me, so I sent him in there to wipe various things--and not just the floor, but the wall and the cabinets within a 4-foot radius--and see what came off. Uh, yeah, it was all pee-stained.

So your carpeting may be dry now, but it has dried pee in it. Every time they use it they probably spread a little more on it.

I am prejudiced, though. I basically think all carpeting is nasty. Look at the water after you steam-clean it. Bathrooms and kitchens need to be mopped a lot, and you might notice, carpet almost never gets mopped. Nobody's going to steam-clean it once a week.

Last edited by Hilarity N. Suze; 10-16-2012 at 03:31 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 10-16-2012, 03:49 AM
Senegoid Senegoid is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Sunny California
Posts: 8,026
Note also that dried pee isn't dried pee. Not in carpets or anywhere.

Pee is kind of oily, so it never really dries out. Just notice a place on your patio or sidewalk or any other pavement where a dog left a puddle. It never really dries.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 10-16-2012, 03:51 AM
Seanette Seanette is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil View Post
OK. I also wonder if it's in my carpeting. Yes, my entire master bathroom is carpeted in that low-pile stuff, except for the tiled area around the shower enclosure. I am wondering now if maybe enough accumulation of "near misses" by my boys may have contaminated the carpet or padding that surrounds the toilet.
I'd consider carpet a prime suspect. Eeeewwww.

I have never understood why anyone thinks carpet in a bathroom or kitchen, which will soak up potentially smelly spills and be very hard to clean, is a good idea.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 10-16-2012, 03:56 AM
Nava Nava is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil View Post
I suppose it's possible it's the carpet, but I have checked, it's dry and so is the padding and sub-floor. Could the carpeting really hold this strong of a urine odor due to repeated exposure even while dry to the touch?
As anybody who has pets will tell you, yes.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 10-16-2012, 04:53 AM
Monty Monty is online now
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
 
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Beijing, China
Posts: 17,994
You could also introduce a rule one of my aunts had in her house--I've no idea how you'd enforce it though after the boys reach an age where they can attend to the facilities unattended (lame euphemism, and another one to follow): No standing while doing your business!

For the kitchen or dining area, you could do what my mother does for her dining room. Her kitchen's uncarpeted and the dining room/living room combination has wall-to-wall carpet. Mom placed a large bathroom throw rug under the dining room table. When that rug get soiled, she washes it. For the most part, nothing hits beyond the protected area.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 10-16-2012, 12:16 PM
Michael63129 Michael63129 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by Monty View Post
You could also introduce a rule one of my aunts had in her house--I've no idea how you'd enforce it though after the boys reach an age where they can attend to the facilities unattended (lame euphemism, and another one to follow): No standing while doing your business!
There is also the lower the toilet lid before flushing rule (you'll never leave your toothbrush lying in the open again after reading this...).

SPOILER:
"If an alien came from space and studied the bacterial counts, he probably would conclude he should wash his hands in your toilet and crap in your sink," Gerba said (2). The alien would almost certainly not put your toothbrush in his mouth because, with its traditional, uncovered spot in the bathroom, it is one of the hotspots for fecal bacteria and germs spewed into the air by the aerosol effect (5).
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 10-16-2012, 01:25 PM
Quercus Quercus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil View Post
OK. I also wonder if it's in my carpeting. Yes, my entire master bathroom is carpeted in that low-pile stuff, except for the tiled area around the shower enclosure. I am wondering now if maybe enough accumulation of "near misses" by my boys may have contaminated the carpet or padding that surrounds the toilet.
I was going to say that possibly your wax ring is decayed enough that either sewage is running out under the toilet, or sewer gas is leaking out under the toilet, but you have boys and carpet in the bathroom? I think you've found the issue yourself.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 10-16-2012, 01:51 PM
filmore filmore is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
I'm guessing a wax ring problem. It sits between the sewer pipe and the toilet. If it fails, then the water will seep out under the toilet when you flush. Not only does this mean sewage is seeping out, but the water can rot the floor.

How good are you with home repairs? Switching the wax ring isn't too complex, but it is a bit messy. Check out some youtube videos on how to do it.

If it is urine in the carpet, go to the pet store and get something designed to remove urine odors (like Nature's Miracle). It has enzymes which break down the urine.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 10-16-2012, 01:54 PM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: The Nasty Nati
Posts: 14,923
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quercus View Post
I was going to say that possibly your wax ring is decayed enough that either sewage is running out under the toilet, or sewer gas is leaking out under the toilet, but you have boys and carpet in the bathroom? I think you've found the issue yourself.
This is what I initially suspected...that the wax ring was allowing sewer gas to seep out. I am not seeing any liquid coming out from under the commode at all.

One other (possibly unrelated) note: this toilet makes a "screeching" sound when flushed and re-filling. I don't know what is causing that.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 10-16-2012, 01:57 PM
Scumpup Scumpup is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil View Post
This is what I initially suspected...that the wax ring was allowing sewer gas to seep out. I am not seeing any liquid coming out from under the commode at all.

One other (possibly unrelated) note: this toilet makes a "screeching" sound when flushed and re-filling. I don't know what is causing that.
Your fill valve assembly is the root of the screeching issue. Easiest fix is just to buy a new assembly and install it. They aren't terribly expensive or hard to install.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 10-16-2012, 02:12 PM
filmore filmore is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
If you don't have one already, this might be a good time to switch to a low-flow toilet if you have to pull the old one out.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 10-16-2012, 02:56 PM
Lukeinva Lukeinva is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
It is possibly (probably) a clogged vent. Check the roof and run a snake through the vent in your bathroom down from the roof. Probably clogged with leaves and such.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 10-16-2012, 05:45 PM
Hockey Monkey Hockey Monkey is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Get yourself a blacklight and shine on your toilet area. You'll find all the places you missed cleaning.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 10-16-2012, 05:55 PM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by elfkin477 View Post
What you're missing is that you're cleaning the wrong thing. Get a mop, thoughly mop the floor around and behind the toilet. Then use a magic eraser or damp sponge on the walls nearest the toilet.
I have a hypothesis that the venn diagram of men who pee standing up and men who don't clean the bathroom is a circle.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 10-16-2012, 06:37 PM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
It could also be a unused sink/bathtub in the bathroom. My master bath has a separate tub and a additional sink, both that go unused for long periods of time. The water that is commonly in the trap slowly disappears, some say it evaporates but I blame the bathroom trolls, anyway, that allows the sewer gas to enter the bathroom, the simple fix is to run the water and fill the traps back up which I have to do every so often.

Though I suspect the carpet.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 10-16-2012, 07:00 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: NH
Posts: 19,740
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inner Stickler View Post
I have a hypothesis that the venn diagram of men who pee standing up and men who don't clean the bathroom is a circle.
Heh. Back when we shared a bathroom I convinced my brother that washing the floor was his job thusly

him: Why do I need to mop the floor? I hate mopping, I don't want to.
me: I can swear on a bible I've never peed on the floor, can you?
him: ::sighs and takes the mop::
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 10-17-2012, 02:39 AM
Kymmaree Kymmaree is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Glue a small plastic fly or stick a silicon target to the inside back of the toilet. Boys can't resist aiming for either of these.

Kym
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:01 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.