Last Wednesday I was assaulted by a foul smell in my front (guest) bathroom. I have been trying to pinpoint the cause for several days. I'm about to go out of town and need advice on what to do, especially since I'm extremely broke and have tried all the usual methods of attack. Details inside...
Thursday I noticed there was a bit of a poo smell going on in the front bathroom. Often, it takes two flushes, and I assumed the toilet was clogged. I plunged, cleaned, plunged, etc. and then lit a candle. I never use those drop-in toilet cleaners.
Friday the smell was WORSE. It smelled like sewage. I did my due diligence; I read up as to what the various causes may be and bought every cleaner imaginable. I opened up the drains and did the vinegar/baking soda clean on all of them.
Saturday, the smell was better... I followed it along the ground until I realized it was emanating from the bathtub drain.
Once again, removed all fittings possible, dumped some special drain cleaner (a green product specifically for drains, no lye, no bleach) down the hole, several pots of boiling water, etc.
Went around and checked every other spot in the house; there is no smell except in the front bathroom. Ran water in every sink, tub, shower, etc. to ensure there were no dry traps.
The smell has now dwindled from a sewer-gas smell to simply a musty, sort of unpleasant dust-like odor. Stale, but not poo-ish or sewer-gassy. (To contrast, when I came home on Friday, when I opened the front door I SMELLED SEWER. FROM SEVERAL FEET AWAY, WITH THE DOOR TO THE BATHROOM CLOSED.)
My house was built in 2003. The drain is at floor level and the tub/shower are completely surrounded by stone and concrete. I have crawled, literally, with my nose shoved along the edge of the toilet, sink, wall, everywhere in that bathroom and it is coming up out of the drain. As of right now it smells musty and vinegar-y just a bit from all the treatments I've done. The smell is now confined to just the bathroom and is severely diminished.
I have no idea where the pipe is that goes to the roof. There is nothing under my house, it's on a concrete slab foundation. There are no signs of dampness or leaks anywhere in the walls, around the tub, around the toilet, around the sink, etc.
The shower liner is immaculate. I opened the closet door that shares the wall with the tub/shower. The inside of the closet is dry, smells pleasant, no dampness. I took a knife and pried up a bit of the carpet that runs along the wall that is shared with the drain... no dampness, nothing. Even shoved my fingers up under the wall right now where I'd pried the carpet; I feel/smell nothing. Flashlight showed everything is white and normal-looking just opposite the smell.
What I'm asking is... did an animal possibly get trapped somewhere and die? If so, can I just leave and come back assured that the smell will probably be gone? I'm in Texas and the temps are expected between 40-77F over the next week.
I really don't think it's mold. I am extremely sensitive to such things and take daily medication for allergies, and have yet to sneeze or itch at all, even with my nose shoved into the drain.
At this point were I not about to leave for 3-4 days and severely broke, I'd probably just call a plumber. My trip is non-refundable and was paid for in advance, so I can't change plans and use the money for a plumber. Also, I'm concerned that I'll call somebody and they will either tell me 1. I have something terrible going on and they have to tear the wall apart and the bill will be several thousand dollars, which I cannot pay or be here to supervise, or 2. it's nothing, a mouse died somewhere, I'll have to wait it out (plus pay $150 for a house call at a weird hour that resulted in nothing).
What say you, MeFi homeowners? What would you do?