Is there a foul stench emanating from your kitchen sink? Perhaps your bathtub smells strikingly like a sewer? If you’re detecting awful odors in areas of your home that have water faucets, there’s a strong likelihood that the stink you smell is coming from your drains.

Let’s explore some of the reasons for the stink in your drainage system and all the stink-blasting tactics you need to know below.

Drain Smells 101: What’s Causing the Stink?

You use your sinks, shower, and bathtub every day, so just imagine all the things that run through the drains or get lodged in them. Even the most careful homeowner, who works tirelessly to trap hair from slipping down shower drains or always scrapes food scraps into the garbage instead of the garbage disposal, can experience smelly drains every once in a while. 

Here are some common culprits and reasons why your drains are spewing pungent perfumes. 

You Keep Pouring Grease Into the Drain

Grease does not drain well down a plumbing system. It takes a large amount of hot water running consistently to finally get the slimy substance to the bottom septic tank. If the grease dries due to improper drainage, it can harden and then build upon itself. 

Eventually, it will block the drain and even produce a rancid odor that finally makes its way back up through the drain. If the blockage keeps the water from draining, call a Drain Blaster Bill technician to perform a drain cleaning service

Your Garbage Disposal Needs a Good Cleaning

First, you want to be careful what you put into your garbage disposal. Make sure you read the user’s manual to find out what your garbage disposal can handle and what it cannot. Even if you treat your garbage disposal with care, dirty food and liquid can build up inside the canister. 

Your Plumbing Vent Is Clogged

The plumbing vent is an integral part of your plumbing system. It keeps water pressure from building up, thus preventing water from backing up. It also allows air and the accompanying odors to vent out of the pipes. If the vent is blocked, the water, air, and smell will be forced to exit out of a drain due to the pressure.

Bird nests, small animals, and debris are the three main items that will block a vent. You may want to have your vent professionally inspected or hire a drain cleaning service.

You Have a Dry or Missing P-Trap 

One of the most common causes of putrid drains is a dry p-trap, one of the easiest issues to remedy. Don’t know what a p-trap is? It’s the u-shaped or curved section of the pipe beneath the drain that’s designed to hold a small amount of water. This water creates a barrier, preventing sewer gases from wafting through the pipe and out of the drain. 

When you use a drain frequently, water regularly enters the p-trap, which maintains the odor-blocking barrier in the pipe. But, if you have a guest bathroom or other drains throughout your house that see infrequent use, the water within the p-traps will gradually evaporate. 

When it does, there’s nothing to stop stinky sewer gases from traveling up through your pipes and wafting into your home. To fix a dry p-trap, all you need to do is run water down the drain to re-establish the barrier in the pipe. 

Sometimes, though, you might find a drain that does not have a p-trap. This situation is unusual, but if your plumbing contractor did sub-par work, he might not have installed a p-trap under the drain. If you’re dealing with a missing p-trap, chances are this isn’t the first time you’ve noticed an odor emanating from the drain. Unfortunately, the stench will persist until you hire a plumber to install the trap.

Your Drain Is Filled With Blockages

Soap scum, oily residue, and small, solid particles can easily stick together inside your drains and form a blockage. Since the clog is constantly exposed to moisture, it can begin growing bacteria, mildew, and mold, which will naturally cause it to smell terrible.

Your Sewer Line Is Clogged

All the drains in your home feed into the main sewer line, so if that line develops a serious blockage, the clog can prevent multiple household drains from clearing properly. As you continue using your plumbing system, sewage and other materials will begin building up within the line. 

Eventually, those liquids and solids will back up to the point that they’re either very near the drain opening or flowing out of it backward. Naturally, that chunky liquid will smell horrendous.

Shower Drain Odors

There’s nothing quite like a hot, steamy, stinky shower, right? Wrong. If taking a shower leaves you on the verge of gagging after steamy sewage odors assault your nostrils, you’re likely dealing with one of two problems: biofilm accumulation or a backed-up sewer drain.

Biofilm is simply bacterial growth that accumulates inside the drain over time. When hair, soap scum, and other substances get stuck in the drain, bacteria feed on those materials. Certain bacteria can also thrive in the fetid water inside your shower drain’s p-trap. There, they produce hydrogen sulfide gas (which smells like rotten eggs) as they metabolize various sulfur compounds for energy.

To remedy the problem, you can try removing and cleaning the drain strainer to see if that eliminates the odor, but the issue often extends farther into the pipe. A professional drain cleaning service is your most effective option to tackle persistent shower drain odors. 

Bathroom Sink Drain Odors

Much like shower drain odors, smelly bathroom sink drains are often the result of biofilm accumulation. Though, sometimes, a rotten egg-type stench may be due to issues with your water supply.

To determine if your water is the culprit, fill one glass with cool tap water and one with hot tap water. Take both glasses of water outside your home and smell them. If you smell sulfur, your water supply is probably the culprit behind your stinky drains. If you only smell sulfur in the hot water sample, the issue may be your water heater. If you detect no unusual scent from your tap water, your drain is definitely the problem.

You can try eliminating the odor by removing the drain stopper and clearing any hair and buildup from its trap. But, much like your shower drain, biofilm accumulation typically extends farther into the pipe. In most cases, to eliminate the odor, you’ll need the expertise of a professional drain cleaner. 

How to Get Rid of Drain Smells

So, how do you get rid of that funky drain aroma? Our drain cleaning specialists share all the stink-blasting tactics you need to know below.

Pour Boiling Water Down the Smelly Drain

The simplest way to eliminate a nasty drain smell is with boiling water. Hot water can easily wash away any residue along the interior of the drain that may be growing odor-causing bacteria.

Here’s how to get the job done:

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil.

  • Immediately pour half of the piping hot water into the drain opening.

  • Wait a minute or two to allow the hot water to loosen any residue inside the pipe.

  • Flush the drain with warm water from the tap.

  • Pour the remainder of the hot water down the drain.

  • Flush the drain with tap water once again.

If you regularly boil water for tea, pasta, coffee, or anything else, pouring any leftover boiling water down the drain is also a good idea when you’ve used what you need. Periodically pouring hot water into the drain can help prevent residue from building over time.

Use Baking Soda and White Vinegar

This tactic can work for any stinky drain in your home. Since baking soda and vinegar naturally bubble when they react, the combo can help scrub away any odor-causing residue inside a stinky pipe. 

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Get two cups of baking soda and two cups of white vinegar.

  • Pour the baking soda into the drain. Let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.

  • Pour the vinegar into the drain.

  • Let the mixture bubble for 10-15 minutes inside the pipe.

  • While the mixture is bubbling, boil a pot of water.

  • Pour the boiling water down the drain to flush the baking soda, vinegar, and the loosened residue from the pipe.

Try Baking Soda and Lemon Juice

Like white vinegar, lemon juice is acidic, so when you pour baking soda and lemon juice into a stinky drain, the combo will react quite like baking soda and white vinegar do. Since lemon juice also contains natural essential oils, it can also help freshen the drain. To eliminate the odor, follow the same procedure as you’d use for baking soda and white vinegar.

Turn to the Experts

If the stench persists after you’ve tried all the above tactics, call a drain cleaning specialist to schedule service. Water jetting is highly effective at removing drain smells since it removes all traces of residue from within the pipe. A camera drain inspection can also alert you to the culprit behind the stench so you can take measures to prevent drain odors from recurring.  

If your drains tend to develop odors fairly frequently and you’ve never had them professionally cleaned, it’s likely in your best interest to start getting them serviced regularly. 

How often? Annually or bi-annually is usually adequate, depending on the number of people in your household and the frequency you use your plumbing system. To get a personalized recommendation for your home, you’ll need to speak with a drain cleaning specialist who can assess the health of your plumbing system. 

Drain Blaster Bill’s: Your Source for Professional Drain Cleaning 

Do your household drains smell awful? Let our team at Drain Blaster Bill’s help you eliminate that terrible stench! We provide drain cleaning services for homeowners throughout Stillwater, MN, and the surrounding Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area and offer same-day service for your convenience. 

To learn more about how professional drain cleaning can help you or to schedule service, feel free to give us a call today at 763-913-8719 or request a free estimate.