Posted by: Kate | August 17, 2009

Wanted: Objective Nose

I think there’s something wrong with my toilet

It just doesn’t smell right to me, and not in the traditional bad-smell way one might associate with the bathroom.  It’s not a person-smell, it’s more of a… I don’t know.  Very unpleasant, somehow old, just nasty.  But extremely, extremely faint: I only notice it when I’m in there and it’s 5:00 in the morning and I realize, “Hmm, there’s no reason things should smell unpleasant in here, no one else is awake,” or at 1:00 in the morning when I have bolted out of a dead sleep to launch myself at the toilet and sing – albeit gutturally – its praises, and am spending sudden, up-close-and-personal time down there.  It’s not coming from the bowl or the tank.  It’s just… there.

Willem, of course, has absolutely no idea what I’m talking about.  This is a man who happily lived in a frat house, so my trust in his olfactory abilities is a bit diminished.  Emily has commented on it, without prompting from me, so that helps me feel a tiny bit less insane or pregnant-altered.  Because I know my sense of smell is changed during pregnancy; suddenly I can smell the milk just thinking about turning, and I am put off by someone smoking in a car, with the windows up, three lanes away during rush hour.  But I don’t think this is an artifact of pregnancy; I think it’s just wrong.

It’s not quite wrong enough for me to contact the landlord, but the moment I hear Willem admit that there is something not-quite-aromatic wafting up in the bathroom – perhaps some sort of air flow pipe or something?  the intricacies of toilet technology have passed me by – I’ll be calling in the troops.  Or, at least, one troop, in the form of the plumber.  I just want some objective – and, perhaps, adult – backup that I’m not entirely imagining things, even though I’ve never thought of my nose as the source of great creativity and imagination.


  1. I may not be the most objective commenter in matters of plumbing…but I say, if you have the feeling something isn’t right, then It Isn’t Right. Even small amounts of water lurking in enclosed spaces can smell off and (as I well know) cause a fair amount of damage. Better to mention it to the PTB and get it checked out now.

  2. This could be the early stages of a failure of the wax ring or a crack in the flange.

    Don’t ask me how I know these terms.

  3. I’m seconding the wax ring thing. Which I think I learned on This Old House. Does the toilet look old?

  4. I actually know it’s brand-new, as in, was installed the day we got the keys.


  5. maybe it’s some sort of adhesive issue if it’s newly installed?

  6. It may have been installed slightly incorrectly, not firmly seated in the wax ring. I know those terms from unfortunate past experiences, too!

  7. It could be something off with the toilet.

    Or it could be normal toilet smells, otherwise indiscernible to mortal humans. And now, hopped up on pregnancy hormones, your sense of smell has been fine-tuned to superhero stature.

    Like mine was, when I was pregnant with Alena. I could smell computer monitors. Nasty, horrible, burning electronics and old sulphur. Ugh, it makes my stomach turn just thinking about it. And I was traveling cross-country and teaching software classes my whole first trimester. Such fun.

    Frank also had to take out the garbage each and every morning, lest he hear me get grossed out by the smell of it when I got home from work.

    And coffee was suddenly all burnt and horrid. All of it. It was stomach-turning.

    In other words…. it might just be you. Have you noticed any other smells change or get stronger?

  8. you know sometimes in pipes gasses just back up…since you live in an apartment situation could that be it. It is a sour like stench does not smell like waste but is just not pleasant! There maybe corrosion of the metal pipes as well a corroding metal has a particular “stink” too.

  9. I think I might be dyslexic after that post, but you get the hint.

  10. Hmmm…want to come compare the smell to my bathroom? Which ALWAYS smells like URINE. Always. Even after I scrub it down.

    Damn boyz.

  11. The joys of pregnancy nose….

  12. I get “pregnancy nose” really badly, too. When I was pregnant with my youngest I discovered I could not walk down the fresh meat aisle at the store because I could smell all the meats…through the packaging.

    If the wax ring was newly installed my question would be: why? Did they put in a whole new toilet? Or was in to fix a leaking seal on the toilet? Either way it might mean there was a leak, and if there was a leak there may be mold in the flooring or subflooring somewhere.

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