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What’s That Smell?
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Plumbing 11/28/13

What’s That Smell?

From small plumbing drips and clogs to large floods and major work, all types of issues can arise in your home or business. However, not knowing the problem and how to solve it is probably the most frustrating experience when it comes to your home’s plumbing.

At Bill Howe, our San Diego plumbers are equipped to handle every job, small and large. But one common mystery we are called to solve is that of unidentifiable smells. Often described as “sewer gas-like,” these can in fact be caused by gases coming up through drains. Yet, it is not always so simple for your local San Diego plumber to locate the culprit.

Many unpleasant smells arise from punctures or breaks in a vent line allowing the gases to leak out of and escape into the home. However, unless you expose this vent line, it is not immediately noticeable. One way for your local plumber to detect this is to perform a smoke test. In San Diego, plumbers will seal off all vent lines and run a special smoke through your plumbing system. If you have smoke seeping through, you can determine the location of a compromised vent/drain line.

If the smell comes solely from one bathroom, and it is not the toilet, the lavatory sink might be the problem. If you have an overflow in the sink bowl and it has collected water and soap buildup, it may simply need to be flushed out. This can be done easily by running water through the overflow and cleaning out between the double walls in the lavatory sink.

If the smell seems to be coming from behind walls, it might be possible for your local plumbers in San Diego to run a small camera between the walls or through the small 2” drain lines such as the shower or sink to rule out any drain line breaks or loose traps allowing gases to escape into the atmosphere.

If vent lines and drain lines are intact, there are no cracked lines in the wall or buildup in your sink, the smell could be coming from a rodent in an attic, basement or walls. Bill Howe’s plumbers in San Diego have found these unfortunate creatures after opening walls or crawling in the crawl space or attic.

When all else fails, start with small tests and call an expert for help in finding the best option.

If you are experiencing unpleasant odors, call Bill Howe today at 1-800-Bill Howe (800-245-5469). You’ll be glad you did!


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Service for new garbage disposal. My ancient garbage disposal quit working, went online to get Bill Howe’s number, immediately received and accepted chat to describe my needs. Prompt call back to schedule an appointment, service tech Allen was out same morning, which was important to fit my work schedule. Job estimate was clear, work done fully to my expectations, area left clean, and price was very fair.
I was not surprised — I have used Bill Howe plumbers for several other tasks in the past. I have always found their staff to be helpful, attentive, and the plumbers very courteous and capable.

January 2020


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I have been using Bill Howe since the late 1980’s, their service has always been excellent, plumbing, heating and restoration. I am most impressed by the integrity of their employees, not only do they know their work/skill, they do not waste time, they are so efficient, they are so helpful and they are a true “service”!

February 2020


What Mira says about us

Bill Howe never fails us! We had a drain overflow, and Scott came (on a Saturday) to look at it and offer solution. He was punctual, professional, and extremely helpful. I should also praise the main office for always being helpful and always finding solutions. Very grateful to have you in San Diego!

February 2020

Restoration & Flood

What Ed Gohlich says about us

Cory was our technician on this job. We had a time sensitive repair issue and Bill Howe understood and assisted with getting the job done quickly.
Cory was on time to start the job and finished it quickly. Upon his leaving our home he’s was courteous, very knowledgeable, explaining what the problem was and how he fixed it. Very good communication and this is the way it’s has always been when we use Bill Howe plumbing.
Great company to work with.
Thanks Cory.

August 2019

Heating & Cooling

What Eric says about us

I had a shower that would not drain. The employee arrived on time and fixed the problem quickly and effectively at a very fair price. I was very happy with everything. Thank you and I highly recommend your plumbing service.

January 2019


What Bridgett says about us

I am extremely happy with the service we received from Bill Howe Plumbing. We were given an incorrect diagnosis of our main sewer line from another vendor, but Bill Howe’s servicemen came out for a second opinion, correctly diagnosed our problem and resolved our back up issues. We will continue to use Bill Howe for all our future plumbing needs!

Thank you Bill Howe Plumbing.

July 2019