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Discuss Strange bin smell coming from the boiler or the pipes in the wall in the Plumbing Forum area at

  1. Caledonia

    Caledonia New Member


    First of all, I need to say that I know nothing, absolutely nothing to plumbing.

    I am posting in this forum because I am losing my wits here.

    I bought a tenement flat (Scotland, high ceilings very old flats, stone buildings) and when I moved in just a few weet ago I noticed that the previous owners had left a room perfume plugged in the sockets above the kitchen worktop, not far from the boiler. I unplugged it, and did not think more about it, thinking that many people seem to like these artificial stuff.

    As the days went by, I noticed a bad smell, like bins, a dirty smell, in the kitchen. I started to sniff every corner and found that the wall just bow the boiler, where pipes get in and out, stank. A joiner working elsewhere in the flat pointed at the smell coming from a sectioned copper pipe, within the wall, below the combi boiler. It stank indeed. I asked him to block it all with foam, which he did then he built a wooden cupboard around the boiler, with a door, and open at the top for ventilation... It hardly made a difference! The smell is still there. OK, maybe slightly less strong.

    The previous owners had had the boiler changed, a new one installed in December 2016. So this is a new one, brand is Ideal.

    The joiner talked of the boiler pipe or flue maybe not well connected to some outdoor pipe and some condensation water dripping inside the wall, possibly causing the rotten smell.

    I have lifted off the kitchen floor lino and checked: no bad smell so maybe I can rule out an underfloor leaking pipe. Same for under the kitchen bottom cupboards: Ilifted the loose skirting and smelled and no smell.

    Now something strange and depressing happened a few days ago. As the bedroom right next to the kitchen, also at the back of the building (so sharing the same exterior wall) was getting dusty from the joiner cutting laminate, we opened the window and left it opened for days. Soon, that horrible smell came in the bedroom.. And it seems from the window!

    I attach pictures taken from outside of the back wall, with all the pipes and flue. The kitchen is where we see lights through the window. To its left, the next window is the bedroom now having that strange smell too, when the window remains open... I live on the first floor, by the way! In the picture, my flat is the only one with the thin plastic pipe extension /arm..

    If anyone, anybody has any idea, please can you give me your opinion? This is starting to obsess and depress me.

    Thank you.





  2. Jones82

    Jones82 GSR

    My bet would be on the condensate pipe from the boiler going into the soil stack, its likely not fully connected and letting foul sewer gases into the property.
  3. snowhead

    snowhead Well-Known Member

    AS above, Can you take a photo of the pipework under the boiler?
    Specifically the boiler pipe that goes into the pipe that ends up outside
  4. king of pipes

    king of pipes Trusted Plumber GSR

    Have you had the boiler serviced i have had a similar problem on a ideal the sump is prone to blocking up, sediments from the aluminium heat exchanger build up and can cause smells , this needs a thorough flush out and cleaning also check all the condense pipe fittings are actually glued or there are no open ends . cheers kop
    • Informative Informative x 1
  5. Caledonia

    Caledonia New Member

    Many thanks all. I will check all of what you mentioned. Well, the plumber coming tomorrow will! I am hopeful :) maybe that foul smell will go away eventually
  6. Chuck

    Chuck Active Member

    I'm sure a competent plumber will be able to sort it out for you.

    Looking at your photographs, and as others have commented, the condensate pipe from the boiler seem to have just been stuck into a hole in the side of the downpipe. There needs to be a proper boss at that point. It looks like a temporary arrangement was forgotten about and never made permanent after the boiler was commissioned.

    Also, whoever maintains the building needs to make sure as part of regular mainentance that leaves, etc. never block the gutter at the top of the downpipe. Drains are not my thing, but given the obvious risk of that happening I would have thought there ought to be a separate vent and cowl terminating above the gutter to prevent it happening. You can do a rough ground-level check by listening to the drain pipe when it's raining. You should be able to hear a lot of water running down.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2017
  7. Caledonia

    Caledonia New Member

    Thank you Chuck. Plumber coming today.

    The first problem you suggested: given the height of the building, I don't know who would access this pipe... I will ask my plumber. I live on the first floor but it 's still high from ground floor.
  8. Stigster

    Stigster Plumber

    1st floor off a ladder will be no problem for inspection work. As it is also a quick job to sort that external connection out, I'd be OK with using a ladder. Your plumber may not want to but most of us have to work on ladder at greater heights, as long as it is a quick job or just an inspection ladder access is fine.
  9. Chuck

    Chuck Active Member

    If you lived in England, I'd expect there to be a management company for the block that looked after maintainance of the common parts, e.g. external drains, the roof, etc. Individual flat owners would get an annual 'service charge' and be responsible for paying for a share of any major works. I imagine that similar arrangements are made in Scotland and these should have been explained to you by your solicitor or surveyor when you bought the flat.

    Since there are a lot of tenement buildings in Glasgow, this is something that there is probably a local solution for, perhaps access to the roof via an inspection hatch or companies that fly inspection drones. If there are no large trees nearby there may not be any leaves to cause a problem of the type I suggested was possible.

    Anyway, first things first, see what your plumber advises and take things from there.
  10. Caledonia

    Caledonia New Member

    Hello all. Update on the problem:

    I plumber came and identified the smell to come from the boiler condensate pipe (if I remember right, white and hidden at the back, right handside under boiler in pics) so he temporarily blocked ils stinky opening with putty to see if the problem was that. Told me the boiler installer had done a botched work, connecting two pipes that shouldn't be connected together. I told him I could still smell an awful smell coming from the wall, the tiles to be precise, behind the pipes. He put putty in the tiny visible crack.

    8 hours later, with the kitchen window wide open... It still smelled bad ! And I am getting frankly discouraged.

    So I sniffed the pipes and the boiler and everything has a bad smell. Especially down the pipes, where the foam is... (foam and cupboard put and built by the joiner as I had asked him to, two weeks ago, thinking it would solve the problem. Now I m going to ask him to take the bottom cupboard off as it restricts access)

    I attach new pictures.

    Please somebody helps ! What is the source of the bad smell ?

    By the way: notice the traces of past brown splashes on the wall below and under the boiler... Is this normal ?







  11. Caledonia

    Caledonia New Member

    Chuck, there is no factors to manage the upkeep of the building.. An owner in the building sorts of does the communication work but basically nobody in these buildings manages the property.
  12. Caledonia

    Caledonia New Member

    Another update :

    In the adjacent bedroom, to the right of the kitchen, I decided to open the window this morning, and close the kitchen window, to see if the mysterious bad smell would occur again and I just checked now and of course it has !! Eggy smell in the bedroom. Not coming from the fire place, which I smelled but from the window. I had left for a week the bedroom window closed, and the kitchen window open, with both doors always shut: there had been no smell in the bedroom.
    So the new egg smell coming from the open window today in the bedroom must come from one of the outside pipes (my guess : either the thin little copper pipe, the closest to the camera, or the short big (flue ?) pipe above, connected to the top of the boiler. In the last pic)

    I photographed everything I could see outside the window..

    The mystery deepens and I m even more depressed !



    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  13. Gasmk1

    Gasmk1 GSR

    the condensate pipe before it goes out to the wall far right of picture it looks like a tee piece what goes into the tee
  14. Caledonia

    Caledonia New Member

    The plumber put putti at the end of the open condense white pipe as it was left unconnected, if I understand correctly... I will try taking more pictures of the pipes as I dont know where they re going.
  15. Caledonia

    Caledonia New Member

    Posting more pictures



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