How to Cure a Smelly Toilet

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Have you scrubbed your toilet multiple times yet still find yourself greeted with a horrible smell? It might not be your cleaning skills that are the problem, and you might not need to buy a new toilet just yet. Some issues with toilet parts can lead to stinky smells in your bathroom. Identifying the root cause and repairing it can make you breathe easier.


Toilet Water Evaporation

If the offending toilet is in a bathroom that doesn't get much use, the issue could be evaporation. When the water gets low, it doesn't fill the P-trap to block sewer gases from entering your home. Flushing the toilet to fill it back up with water can resolve the issue. Prevent it from happening again by regularly flushing the toilets you don't use very often to keep the water from evaporating.


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Plumbing Vent Issues

Every home needs a properly functioning plumbing vent system to keep the plumbing fixtures working correctly by regulating airflow. The vent pipe typically exits your home on the roof. It can get covered in debris or snow, which can keep the venting system from working properly. There's also a chance the venting system wasn't installed properly and is causing ongoing issues.


If you suspect a venting issue, calling a plumber is a safe, easy option. The plumber can check for blockages, so you don't have to climb on the roof, and can also repair any issues with the venting system.

Clogged Water Jets

The little holes under the rim of your toilet bowl where the water comes out can cause a stinky issue in your bathroom. Clogging in those jets can cause mildew to grow, which doesn't smell great. It's difficult to see the holes, so grab a hand mirror to check for gunk blocking them. Use a scrub brush or piece of wire to scrape out the gunk that's clogging the holes.


Bad Wax Ring

A bad wax ring can also cause ongoing odor issues. Your toilet's wax ring sits underneath your toilet to create a seal between the base of the toilet and the flange that leads to the drain pipe. If the wax ring is compromised, it doesn't create a tight seal and can let smelly odors into your bathroom. You might also notice water around the base of your toilet.


To replace the wax ring, you'll need to pull up the toilet. Before doing that, you need to shut off the water supply and empty the toilet bowl and tank completely of water. Removing the toilet is a matter of unbolting it from the floor and lifting it off. Once you clean up the old wax ring, you can position the new one, lower the toilet over it, and bolt the toilet back to the floor.

Bacteria With Improper Seal

A similar issue is a lack of a seal at the base of the toilet. In addition to the wax seal, a toilet is often caulked along the base. Water, urine, and other gunk can run under the bottom edge of the toilet if it's not sealed. This can lead to bacterial growth that gets stinky.


The best way to get rid of all the gunk and bacteria is by removing your toilet and cleaning the floor thoroughly. Don't forget to clean the bottom edge of the toilet as well. You'll need a new wax ring if you choose this option since you'll disturb the one you have when you remove the toilet.



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