Is something fishy in your home?
If your toilet smells like fish, you could have a plumbing or electrical problem, or just a bad case of bathroom mold.
Most people start by cleaning the bathroom to try to resolve the smell. If a deep clean doesn’t get to the root of the issue, you need to take some extra steps to narrow down the source of the fishy smell and determine what kind of professional you need to get involved.
Here’s how you can find the source of the smell and fix it for good.
It Smells Like Fish When You Flush
Run your bathroom fan for a minute, and then step back inside the bathroom and turn the fan off. Don’t flush or run the water. Instead, smell around the room and see if you can detect the fish smell and, if so, where it is strongest. If the smell is fainter than normal, flush the toilet. Most of the time, this will cause a sudden burst of the smell.
Though the smell appears to be coming from the toilet, the bowl is not the source. Instead, usually, the smell is gas from the sewer coming up through a break in the wax ring seal around the base of the toilet. When the toilet flushes, it puts pressure on the pipe system and blows some air. The wax seal is to keep that gas under control.
If the toilet was installed recently and the wax seal appears to be in good condition, the problem may be a block in the plumbing vent. Typically, the plumbing vent allows air and the fishy smell to escape your home. If it is clogged, the air will back up and may bring the fishy smell into your bathroom.
Either way, you will need to call a plumber to fix the toilet seal or the plumbing vent. Plumbers can also clean the drainage pipe leading from the toilet so that there is less of the fishy smell in your pipes in the first place.
It Smells Like Fish When the Light Is On
If the flush test doesn’t seem to increase the fish smell, try the morning test. Make sure every light in the bathroom is on all night. In the morning, don’t turn the light on when you walk in. If the smell is gone or reduced, the smell may be caused by a burning electrical unit. You may have installed the wrong lightbulb in the room, or any new electrical units in the bathroom (towel warmer, electrical components of new showers) may have been installed correctly. In this case, you will need an electrician’s help.
The Bathroom Always Smells Like Fish
What if flushing doesn’t make the smell worse, and all of the lights and electrical components are in good working order? Then the fishy smell may be coming from a mold infestation. If you’ve checked for mold in every hidden corner of the bathroom, mold may be in the walls (and this is typically caused by a small plumbing leak). In this case, you will want to call your plumber for help looking for mold, investigating leaks and troubleshooting other potential causes of the fishy smell.
Once your plumber has resolved the fishy smell problem, you may want to invest in better bathroom ventilation to keep moisture levels down and prevent mold growth and keep the toilet’s seal in better condition longer.