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If you’ve ever experienced a sewer leak in your home, you certainly know how challenging the entire ordeal can be. Not only do you need to repair the clogged pipes and drains, but you also encounter very unpleasant odors that spread from the sewer.

But is sewer gas dangerous? Is breathing in sewage harmful to you and your family? Read on to find out.

Is Sewer Gas Toxic?

Sewer gas contains both toxic and non-toxic gases. They include methane, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxides. Sewages also contain gasoline, chlorine bleaches, and various industrial solvents.

If you detect a sewage leak in your home, there may not be immediate danger from the gases it contains, especially since not all of them are toxic. Although, hydrogen sulfide and ammonia are toxic and therefore pose a severe threat to you and your family if they happen to leak from your sewer.

So, is sewer gas harmful? Yes, but only if said gases leak at high concentration. Methane also has the potential to negatively affect your health, but it’s not a toxic gas.

Potential Dangers of a Sewer Gas Leak


If gases start to leak from your sewer system and into your home, you may potentially be at risk of asphyxiation. In this situation, methane replaces the oxygen in the air and can accumulate quickly in an enclosed area.

Lack of oxygen can potentially lead to the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Convulsions
  • Damage to the brain and heart
  • Unconsciousness
  • Possible death

Methane is non-toxic and unharmful at low concentrations, but it can be quite dangerous if it accumulates in a confined space. Since it’s a compressed gas, it’s also extremely flammable and explosive.

Another potential danger of a sewer gas leak is hydrogen sulfide poisoning. This is a highly toxic gas that can be fatal at high concentrations. Exposure to low concentrations irritates the eyes and causes dizziness, nausea, and headache, but high concentrations can lead to unconsciousness and death.

Detecting a Sewer Gas Leak

Detecting a sewer gas leak as soon as it starts is paramount to keeping you and your family safe. Fortunately, you can quickly identify a leak because the first warning sign you’ll notice instantly is the smell.

You can’t notice the methane gas smell, because methane is odorless in its natural state. However, you can notice the smell of rotten eggs which is a telltale indicator of a hydrogen sulfide leak.

If your eyes start to water, and you detect an intense, chemical-like smell, that is most likely ammonia leaking from the sewer.

What to Do in Case of a Sewer Gas Leak

In the case of a sewer gas leak, here are 4 steps to take:

  1. Open all windows
  2. Evacuate from the area to avoid the potential dangers of inhaling toxic gases
  3. Avoid any ignition sources so there’s no risk of an explosion
  4. Once you and your family are safe outside, call a professional plumbing service to assess the situation and fix the problem

Junior’s Plumbing is here for you, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you ever encounter an issue with your plumbing and sewer system, including a gas leak. Our experts will efficiently and effectively resolve any problems, and make sure you and your family are perfectly safe.

Contact us today for a free plumbing estimate!