Have you ever noticed a drain in your home seems to smell particularly foul? Does this only seem to happen after the drain hasn’t been used for several hours? Does this particular drain cause the entire room it is in to smell so bad that using it is a genuinely unpleasant experience? Drain odors are a pretty common plumbing problem, and the good news is they aren’t always super difficult to fix. Let’s take a closer look at what causes foul smells to come from your drain and what you can do to fix the problem.
Why Does My Drain Smell Bad?
Drain odors have a lot of different causes. Perhaps the most common cause is something in the drain line itself is rotting, causing odorous fumes and gasses to travel back up the line and out to the drain. Under normal usage conditions, drain odors are blocked by your P-trap—a small 180-degree bend in your drain line that traps a small amount of water in place to prevent odors from passing through. However, the water in this trap can evaporate over time and allow odors to find their way back out.
In other cases, the problem might be a blockage in your sewer line or even just nasty gasses and odors coming back up your drain lines from your sewer itself. P-traps typically protect your home from these gasses, but some issues can allow the odors through. For example, a blockage in your sewer line might prevent waste from flowing away as it normally would, and this can cause it to back up in other drain lines throughout your home. At this point, the collected sewage and waste might infiltrate into the P-trap itself, allowing the gasses and smells to get into your home.
Ways to Stop Drain Odors
Stopping drain odors doesn’t have to be difficult, and in many cases a simple solution will solve the problem. Here are four ways you can fix an issue with drain odors.
Refill the Plumbing Trap
Has it been several hours since you last used a drain? Whether it’s in your bathroom, your kitchen, or even a utility drain in your home, any drain with a connection to your sewer line could be at risk for foul odors if the water stuck in your P-trap is allowed to evaporate. Sometimes this can take as little as several hours, while other times it might take a drain not being used for several days. Regardless, the easiest way to fix this problem is to simply refill the P-trap. If the drain is a sink drain, run the water for about 10-15 seconds. If it’s a shower drain or tub drain, allow the shower or tub to run for about a minute and then allow the water to drain out. This type of problem is exceedingly rare for toilets, but can be solved with a simple flush.
Run the Garbage Disposal
If the foul odors are coming from your kitchen drain, then your problem is likely that some scraps of food or other waste have become stuck in your garbage disposal and they are beginning to rot away. Rotting food has a distinct smell, and it’s pretty easy to tell when this is the case. And much like an evaporated plumbing trap, solving this problem is easy.
Simply run the kitchen faucet for a few seconds, and then turn on the garbage disposal while letting the water run for about 10 to 15 seconds. This should give your disposal plenty of time to chew up any food waste or scraps that have been sitting inside it for too long. Optionally, you can also go a step further and make your garbage disposal smell fantastic with the help of a lemon, lime, orange, or other strongly-scented fruit. Cut the fruit into small chunks and then toss these chunks into your garbage disposal and turn the system on. The grinding teeth will shred the fruit, releasing its pleasant-smelling juices all over the inside of the apparatus. This both helps mask odors and actually helps sanitize the inside of your garbage disposal thanks to the cleaning power of the citric acid in many fruits.
Use the Cleaning Power of Baking Soda
Did you know that the volcano you built for the science fair in elementary school may have actually been teaching you how to solve your smelly drain? The chemical reaction of baking soda and vinegar actually has tremendous cleaning power as well as the ability to create pressure to the point where it creates a simulated eruption. Simply pour several tablespoons of baking soda down a blocked or smelly drain, then follow it up with several tablespoons of plain white vinegar. Then quickly block the drain tightly and wait a few seconds. The reaction will not only help force any blockages in your line to become dislodged, but will also start scrubbing any smelly residue off the inside walls of your drain line.
Schedule a Drain Cleaning Service
If none of these solutions work, then you may have a more serious problem in your drain line. That’s when you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to a pro for help. A professional drain cleaning service removes the grime and residue from your drain line, eliminating odors and reducing the chances of a drain clog forming in the near future.Tired of your stubborn drain problem? Contact Smith’s Plumbing Services to let us take care of the issue for you.