Septic Stench: What That “Rotten Egg Smell” Means and What to do About It

A sewer gas odor can come from your household septic system or the sanitary sewer system. If you notice a foul smell that is causing a problem in your home, it may be sewer gas.

What is sewer gas?

what is rotten egg smellSewer gas is a complex mixture of toxic and non-toxic gasses that can be present at varying levels depending upon the source. It is formed during the decay of household waste, typically the anaerobic decomposition of sewage and sludge.

Sewer gas is mostly methane, which is odorless, but it’s almost always mixed with other gasses, the most common being hydrogen sulfide (chemically, H2S). Sewer gas can also contain ammonia, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen, and, hydrogen. Methane gas can displace oxygen, especially in a confined space, and be deadly.

The hydrogen sulfide gas results from decomposing organic material and can be produced by human and animal wastes. At low levels, it has a strong odor similar to rotten eggs. Under normal conditions, hydrogen sulfide is colorless, flammable gas. Beside the offensive odor, sewer gas can be hazardous, especially over an extended period.

Is it Dangerous?

Fortunately for us, we can generally smell Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) at very low levels and far below what could be toxic so smelling the gas does not always mean that it will make you sick. However, at higher levels, your nose can become overwhelmed by the gas, and we lose our ability to smell it. At higher levels, H2S gas can make you sick and could be fatal. Although hydrogen sulfide is a toxic gas, it will not harm people at the concentrations that exist in a house with sewer gas odor problems.  Not enough gas is generated in the sewers for concentrations to approach the dangerous level in the home.

However, if a person were to enter a tunnel, hole, or tank that contained sewage undergoing anaerobic breakdown (such as your septic tank), there is a chance he or she could become poisoned and the impact could be fatal. Never enter your septic tank. This is a job best left to trained professionals. If your tank requires inspection, call FloHawks. We have the proper training, equipment, and expertise to safely get the job done.

Where does it come from?

sewer gasSmelling sewer gas in your home means that something, somewhere along the plumbing lines isn’t working as it should. A common source of sewer gas odors in the home is a “dry trap.” All drains to a sewer system have a “P” shaped trap that is usually filled with water, which provides a seal to keep out sewer gas. A dry trap occurs when a sink, shower, floor drain, or toilet is not used for a long time, and the water in the trap eventually evaporates out, allowing the sewer gas to enter. If you have a dry trap, the solution is relatively simple – you can pour a quart or so of water into your sinks, showers, tubs, and floor drains to make sure the unused drain traps are filled with water.

Another possible source of sewer gas is a break or leak in the sewer drain line that allows sewer gas to seep into a crawl space or basement, and then into your home. Clogged drains or a blockage at the septic tank can also cause sewer gasses to back up into the building. Unfortunately, this solution is not a simple do it yourself. But FloHawks can help.

Our trained and experienced professionals provide inspections, line cleaning, and can repair your system to get it back in working order – without the extra sewer smells. Call FloHawks anytime at 1-800-356-4295 or use our convenient Schedule Your Service to schedule a time that’s best for you.

A Guide: How Septic Tanks Work by FloHawks

Although few homeowners may ever want to see their septic system in operation, septic systems are one of the most important systems in your home – collecting, treating, and disposing of your household wastewater every day. And that is no small feat as an average home can produce 250 to 300 gallons of wastewater per day! Your septic tank collects anything that goes down the drain in your home. When properly designed, constructed, and maintained, your septic system can provide long-term, effective treatment of household wastewater to effectively reduce or eliminate human health and environmental threats.

Your Septic Tank

A Guide: How Septic Tanks Work by FloHawksAll the wastewater from your toilet, bath, kitchen, and laundry flows into the septic tank. The septic tank is a large, underground container where the bacteria does its job breaking down solids. Heavier matter that goes through your plumbing, like toilet paper and other solids, sink to the bottom of the tank where bacteria reduce them to sludge and gasses. Lighter solids and organic matter like oils, fats, and proteins float to the top to create a scum layer. Solids that do not decompose remain in the tank. Even when the bacteria are doing their job, undigested solids will slowly start to accumulate on the bottom of the tank through regular use.

However, most of your septic tank is comprised of effluent – gray water that once carried sludge and scum. Over time, through regular use of your septic system, the sludge and scum levels will begin to rise and eventually you will need to have your septic tank cleaned or pumped out. Be conscious of what goes down your drains; excessive fats, oils, and greases can require you to need your tank to be pumped more often. Your actual pumping schedule will depend on the size of the tank and your individual system’s level of use, or abuse, but a rule of thumb average is once every 3 to 5 years.

The Drain Field

After passing through the septic tank, effluent flows out into the drain field. Drain fields (also called leach fields or subsurface soil absorption fields) are a type of wastewater disposal system designed to treat and disperse the effluent from septic tanks. The basic function of a drain field is to deal with the septic tank effluent by allowing it to percolate into the ground. Well-designed and maintained drain fields are an effective way to remove disease-causing microorganisms from septic tank wastewater (effluent).

Drain fields are very important, and typically, the most expensive component of the septic tank drainage system. Drain fields typically consist of a series of perforated pipes laid in long, shallow, gravel-filled trenches that are buried below the ground’s surface. The gravel helps to distribute the wastewater over a large area as the effluent seeps through the gravel and into the underlying layers of soil.

Wastewater Treatment

As the effluent flows slowly through layers of soil, a variety of complex physical, biological, and chemical processes combine to provide treatment and purification. Soil particles filter, or chemically react with, solids and organic matter from the wastewater. Bacteria and other organisms in the soil consume the organic matter in the wastewater and perform most of the treatment. As a drain field matures, microbes living in the soil break down the solids and kill the bacteria in the wastewater. Although some treatment also may occur in the gravel layer, the soil provides most of the wastewater treatment. The soil in the drain field provides the final treatment and disposal of the septic tank effluent.

The septic drain field also has the biggest influence on the septic system life expectancy. Regular maintenance of your system is important, especially for the drain field. The size of the drain field and the capacity of the ground to absorb settled wastewater depend largely on individual site conditions including the type and texture of the soil, the area’s topography, and the volume of wastewater produced.

Proper Care and Maintenance

The useful life of a system depends on several factors like proper design, sizing, and installation, soil composition, the water table, number of nearby trees, amount of use and abuse, and most importantly, proper routine maintenance and pumping. Lack of maintenance is a common cause of early system failure. If your tank is not periodically pumped out (every 3 to 5 years), solids will accumulate, sludge and scum layers can grow thick, and eventually overflow into the drain field, causing foul-smelling water rising to the surface and extensive damage.

Being mindful about what you and your family put into your septic system can also extend its useful life. It doesn’t take much to upset the delicate balance of bacteria within the tank. For more information on how to best maintain your septic system click here for FloHawks’ tips on the Proper Care and Feeding of Your Septic Tank.

Call the professionals at FloHawks anytime at 1-800-356-4295 or use our  convenient Schedule Your Service tool, which allows you to set an appointment that best fits your schedule. We are available 24/7 for all your septic tank needs.

Sierra is Two Years Old!


Can You Believe Our Little Girl is Two?

sierra It just seems like yesterday we were holding a contest to figure our what to name our little bird. Well, Sierra is turning two today, and she has become an important part of the FloHawk Family.

She spends her time now hanging out with her other bird friends and doing appearances at FloHawks trade shows, fairs, and educational events. But her favorite activity is being anywhere where there are kids. And let us tell you – she loves showing off for kids. If you are interested in having Sierra come to your event, please call our Marketing Department, and we will set something up.

Sierra also likes giving out inspirational messages to help get you through the day. Follow her on FloHawks’ Facebook page to see what her next “Thought of the Day” will be.

So, Who is Sierra?

sierra Sierra is a Lanner Falcon who has been a part of the FloHawks family since her birth on May 11, 2015. Sierra was born in captivity and adopted by FloHawks Vice President JR Inman. Shortly after Sierra hatched, we held a contest on social media to come up with a fitting name for our new falcon. The name Sierra was chosen from the wide array of names suggested.

What is a Lanner Falcon?

One of the oldest species of heirofalcons, and members of the Raptor family, Lanners have been used in falconry for more than a thousand years. They are especially prized for their ability to capture other birds such as pigeons and grouse. Lanner Falcons are fast, agile flyers, and not afraid to follow prey into the underbrush. Lanners use a horizontal hunting style, coming at their prey low, flat, and fast.

Unlike other types of birds, falcons do not build their own nests. Instead, they will take up residence in the abandoned nest of a bird of a large size such as raven or vulture. Lanner Falcons are native to Africa and Southeast Europe and like open and arid terrain, especially rocky cliffs.

Why Do We Have Sierra?

sierra Although Falcons (or Hawks for that matter) are in no way related to plumbing or septic service, Sierra does resemble the FloHawks logo. We at FloHawks are committed to the environment and love the outdoors and wildlife so she fits well within our family. She also loves coming to trade shows and events and likes to sit on her perch and pose for photos.

Where is Sierra Going to Be Next?

Sierra makes appearances at events several times a year, and you will be able to see here this year at the Pierce County Fair in August.

Be sure to follow FloHawks on Facebook to see where Sierra will be at next!


High Pressure Pipe Cleaning: Water Jetting Services

Over time, your home’s plumbing system will slowly gather debris, coating the walls of pipes and, if left unchecked, eventually restricting the flow of water, that could lead to even bigger plumbing concerns down the road.

What Is Water Jetting?

What is Water JettingHigh-pressure water jetting (also known as hydro jetting, or high-pressure pipe cleaning) is an efficient way to high-pressure clean your pipes, washing your plumbing and drainage system from the inside out. Using state-of-the-art pumps and flexible hoses, high-pressure water is propelled into the sewer lines. A water jetter is a slim, heavy-duty hose with a special jet nozzle on the end. The nozzle has a variety of forward and reverse water jets that pull the jetter deep into drains, as it blasts pressurized water towards the pipe walls. Even the toughest blockages and buildup can’t stand up to water jetting, which clears out grease, breaks apart clogs, scrubs sludge and sediment off the sides of pipes, and flushes out dirty residue, thoroughly cleaning drain and sewer pipes.

How to Know If Your Home Needs High Pressure Pipe Cleaning Services

JettingWater jetting is an effective solution to stubborn clogs. Slow drains are common first signs that your pipes have accumulated buildup. If the water in your bathtub or shower takes more than a few minutes to completely drain, your pipes are likely clogged. While many homeowners turn to do-it-yourself products to unclog drains, it’s important to understand that sometimes these chemicals can cause more harm than good and can also damage your septic tank system. Hydro jetting is an environmentally preferred way to clear your lines without the use of harsh chemicals. Before resorting to a major plumbing procedure like pipe replacement, having a hydro jet clean problem pipes can save you a lot of time and money.

Regularly scheduled high-pressure water jetting service is particularly important for commercial customers, who deal with fats, oils, and grease (FOG) on a regular basis, to keep their drains flowing freely. By removing mineral deposits, sludge buildup, and debris that accumulate in the lines, restaurants and other businesses can avoid clogs that can cause costly down time.

FloHawks has a variety of water jetter nozzles specifically designed to remove all kinds of dirt, debris, and sludge hiding in your system. Our professionally trained technicians understand the different types of pipe debris as well as different pipe materials, and know how to select the right nozzles for the job.

If you’ve tried everything but still can’t clear a clogged drain or pipe, FloHawks’ expert technicians can provide the tools and expertise to solve the problem quickly. Best of all, our fully trained, licensed, and insured FloHawks technicians are available 24/7. Call 1-800-356-4295 or use our convenient Schedule Your Service tool to schedule a time that’s best for you.

Your Tacoma Plumber: Plumbing Services for Homes

Plumbing Services for HomesFloHawks has been installing and maintaining residential plumbing systems in the greater Tacoma area since 1965. We know Tacoma and specialize in quality residential plumbing and septic services for your Puget Sound area home.

From clogged drains, water heater replacement and repair, jammed garbage disposals, to sewer and septic issues, we are here to serve the needs of our Tacoma residents.

Even though we are the largest plumbing professionals in the Tacoma area, we also take the time and attention to detail you deserve. We’ll work with you to ensure you understand the cause of your plumbing or septic issue, explain how we are going to fix it, and let you know how you can prevent it from happening again. Our FloHawks technicians consistently provide you with quality work done with respect and integrity.

Normally out of sight and out of mind, the network of pipes that delivers water to your washing machines, kitchen, and showers usually remains quiet behind the walls and under the floorboards in your home… until it doesn’t! As any homeowner will tell you, plumbing issues are usually best left in the hands of certified professionals.

We offer 24/7 emergency services and we’re always here when you need us most, including nights, weekends, and holidays.

You can be sure that your residential plumbing problem is handled promptly and efficiently. From North End to West Slope our experienced and knowledgeable technicians have you covered! The quality of our work is unrivaled and our services address any plumbing or septic concern you may have, including:

We hope you love the Puget Sound area as much as we do! Our professionally certified and licensed FloHawks plumbers in our Tacoma office are proud to provide quality service in a timely manner.

Let our 50 years of experience speak for itself. Schedule your service online or call 800-FLO-HAWK (800-356-4295).