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The Big Stink

It started out as a normal day in mountain pest control: The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and critters were invading homes. But, before the workday ended, I had an image in my head that would make some people lose their lunch. So, yeah, it was just a normal day in pest control.

As I was spraying along the baseboards in the house of one of my regular customers, I noticed a bad odor. Bad smells can have many causes—such as the homeowner’s cooking—so at first I didn’t think much of it. But, as I continued laying down bug juice, I knew this bad odor had nothing to do with Indian curry or cooked cabbage. (For the record, I love both.)

I wasn’t thrilled about drumming up extra work for myself—tracking down a mystery odor can take hours—but, the customer is king, so I asked the owner if she’d noticed a funny smell.

“Yes, I have,” she said. “But Mike, who do I call?”

“Don’t worry, Mrs Smith, I’ll get to the bottom of it.”

I suspected three common causes:

  1. Dead animal. From the strong smell I expected to find a raccoon.
  2. Sewer gases. Yes, toxic gas from sewers can enter your home due to plumbing issues.
  3. Natural gas leak. I know that smell and ruled it out early.

The smell was strongest downstairs, so I started my search on the dirt floor of the buildup. I scanned the ground for a dead animal, but saw none. Next, I slowly traced a toilet drain pipe until I saw it had a big crack. Near the pipe was—get ready—a pond of black sewage. Blecch!

When I told Mrs. Smith of my discovery, she was horrified, but, luckily, she knew a good plumber. And as that nasty image of bubbling raw sewage seeped out of my mind, I felt professional satisfaction that I had indeed kept my promise and gotten to the, ahem, bottom of the problem. Have a stink free week everybody.

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