As a handyman, I never know what people will call me for. Each day brings a new surprise. Like last week. I got a call from a client who had a strange odor in her bathroom that she couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.

The bathroom was unfinished and was being used as a storage room. Upon removing the boxes stacked on the toilet, I discovered there was no water in the toilet. There was also no water in the sink drain.

The smell was sewer smell coming up from the drain. The purpose of the water in the toilet bowl and in the U-trap under the sink is to stop fumes coming up from the sewer in the street.

If you have facilities in your house that don’t get used very often it is a good idea to check them a couple of times a year to make sure the water has not evaporated. One of the other things to check is your floor drains. Fumes coming up from the sewer could be lethal.

My client was relieved to learn that the solution to her odor problem was just to put some water in the toilet bowl.