Common Causes of Smelly Drains

You know it when you smell it. Whether it occurs in the kitchen or the bathroom, it’s hard to avoid those noxious whiffs rising up from a smelly household drain. In some cases, resolving drain odors can be a simple DIY procedure. In others, you’ll need a qualified plumber to stop the smell. Here are some of typical odor causes and what’s required to eliminate them.

  • smelly drainDisposal odors. Ground food particles decomposing inside the unit generate odors. Always run cold water into the disposal for 30 seconds after using it to flush out residual particles. If odors are already a problem, cut up a couple of lemons into smaller segments and feed them, along with a bowl of ice cubes, into the disposal. Run the disposal for about 30 seconds, then turn it off and let the ice melt. Flush the disposal thoroughly with cold water. This should clear food remnants as well as deodorize the interior of the disposal.
  • Stinking trap. The u-shaped trap located directly under a sink often accumulates organic matter. Over time, this decaying sludge may emit odors. Pouring a half cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of water may kill bacteria and deodorize the trap. However, if the trap is substantially clogged, a plumber will be required to disassemble it and clear out the decaying organic sludge to eliminate odors.
  • Sewer odors. Sink traps are also a likely suspect in these pungent, sulfuric smells. Water present in the trap serves to seal out sewer pipe odors. If the trap goes dry, however, sewer smells rise up through the drain and infiltrate the house. A dry trap may occur simply because the sink is not used for a long time. Run some water down the drain to replenish the trap and see if odors stop. If not, other issues, such as a clogged plumbing air vent pipe that’s sucking water out of the trap, will need to be diagnosed by a qualified professional plumber.

For more information about causes and cures for odors from household drains, contact Rytech, Inc.

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