Table Of Contents

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Foul Smelling Drains

Most people don't think about their blocked drain until something terrible happens. Often, that unpleasant event is either a stinky or clogged drain. Kitchen and bathroom drains need drain cleaning regularly to avoid odours. You can use scented candles or air fresheners to mask stinky drain odours. But, to completely eliminate odours, you must address the source.

You can avoid smelly drains by learning how to clean them and performing regular maintenance. Continue reading to discover what causes different drains in your home to clog or smell. You will also learn about various methods for how to clean smelly drains and keep them from smelling in the future.

Common Causes Of Bad-Smelling Drains

Bacteria build-up

The odour could be caused by something as simple as bacteria and gunk build-up. Consider what goes down your drains, including food, hair, and dirt. When these items become stuck in the pipes, they can emit a foul drain smell. Smells are frequently associated with blockages, so it's a good indication that it's time to clear your drain pipes. By clearing your drainage pipes, you can eliminate the odour and slow drainage.

Dry P-trap

If your drain hasn't been used in a while, you may only need to run the water and refill the P-trap to eliminate the odour. A goose-necked section of pipe is installed in drain lines to prevent sewer gas from seeping up through the drain. The water in the trap evaporates when the sink is not used.

This dry drain results in a foul drain smell and allows the gas to enter your home quickly. Run a little water through all of your faucets once a month to keep P-traps from drying out.

Clogged or missing vent pipes

You may or may not be aware that your drain pipes are linked to a network of vent pipes that allow fresh air to enter while allowing wastewater gas and odour to escape. This, when combined with the drains, is called the drain waste vent (DWV) system.

Vertical vent pipes typically exit through the roof, away from windows and other vents. Clogs in the main stack can cause various problems, including a smelly drain. If you don't have vent pipes, talk to a professional plumber about installing them.

The smell from the sump

You may notice a strange odour coming from your basement sump pump. If that's the case, you may be directing wastewater into the sump pump rather than the main sewer drain line. Water from the washing machine can sometimes be directed into the sump pump, where it can collect and cause a foul odour.

You can reduce the smell by reducing the number of pipes that drain into your sump pump. Make sure you have a tight-fitting cap over the top to prevent odours from entering your home. It will also prevent objects from falling inside and accumulating.

Grease

When grease or fat coagulates in your kitchen sink drain, it can produce a rotten egg or mould odour. You should never pour grease into the drain. To deal with a grease-filled drain, pour two teaspoons of baking soda down the drain, followed by vinegar and a pot of boiling water. This solution will dissolve the gunk while the water washes it away.

Garbage management

Food scraps left to rot in the kitchen's garbage disposal will stink. A mouldy or rotten odour indicates that the garbage disposal needs to be cleaned. Run cold water down the disposal for about half a minute. Running ice cubes through the garbage disposal can help clear the food, and throwing in some lemon or lime slices will produce a citrusy odour that will quickly mask the previous rot.

Drainage system

Installing a proper drain trap in your new sink or bathtub is essential in preventing sewer odours from entering your home. There is no other appropriate way to keep the smell from entering your home. The drain trap must be installed by a professional.

Sewer drain clog

If you notice that your sink has a foul smell and is draining slowly, you may have a clogged sewer vent. When this happens, the gases that generally exit your pipes become trapped and build up, causing increasing odour and drainage issues.

This is more common in houses that aren't used frequently, so if you have a vacation home with a stinky sink drain, this could be the cause.

Sulphates

If your sink smells strongly of rotten eggs, you may have too much sulphate in your water. Although not toxic, sulphates can damage clothing and cause digestive problems if consumed. Too many sulphates in your water can also cause drainage issues, so both the sulphates and a clog could cause the odour.

Errors in plumbing

You may notice a smell immediately after plumbing work or the installation of new pipes. This could be due to a plumbing error, such as a leaking pipe or a missing component. If you notice a foul odour permeating from your sink drain soon after a plumbing visit, contact your plumber to have the work double-checked.

Does Your Water Have A Smell?

If you think that the foul smell might be coming from your water, then it's a severe issue. As discussed previously, many factors can result in foul-smelling water, such as sulphates. If sulphate-reducing bacteria enter the hot water heater or tankless water heater, they produce a rotten egg odour.

If you suspect the odour is coming from the water, have a professional plumber inspect your water pipes. And without any delay, focus on how to get good water quality in your home.

What Can I Do To Solve Stinky Drain Smells?

Fortunately, in many cases, the issue is not a big one. Smelly drains are mostly quite simple to resolve. And you can do it on your own before involving any professionals. If the issue is simply build-up or minor clogs, some of these common drain cleaning tips might be useful for you.

Hot water and dish soap

You might be lucky if this method works, as it means all your sink requires is a thorough cleaning. Fill your sink with a few inches of boiling water, then add some dish soap and agitate the mixture until it appears bubbly. When you're finished, open the drain and pour the soapy mixture down it. If you have a mild odour, this may be all that is required to restore the smell.

Make use of a plunger

You can unclog your drain with a plunger. But first, apply a bit of petroleum jelly on the edge of the plunger to help provide a better seal. Now, position the plunger at the top of the drain cover.

Fill the drain area with hot water just enough to submerge the plunger's end. And then plunge vigorously until the clogged drain is gone.

Lemon peels, ice, and salt

When regular soap and hot water aren't cutting it, try this method instead. Place some ice cubes and a handful of coarse salt down the drain when the garbage disposal is turned off.

Turn on your disposal and process the ice and salt for a few moments before adding the lemon peels. The salt and ice will help remove any physical residue from your sink. While the lemon peels will help eliminate odour.

Vinegar and baking soda

Baking soda and vinegar, a tried-and-true DIY cleaning method, can be very effective for cleaning sink drains that smell. Begin by bringing some hot water to a boil on the stove.

While the water is heating, pour one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar down the drain and let it sit. Flush the drain with boiling water after 10 minutes. Finally, flush the drain with cold tap water and wait to see if the odour has gone away.

Use a snake hose auger

A snake hose auger or drain snake, which consists of a flexible metal tube fitted into a plastic tube with an auger, can be of great use. In the clogged drain, insert the auger. Hold the plastic tube tightly and turn the handle on the other end of the flexible tube as you force it into the drain.

This will help you in removing the clog. If this method works, make sure to sanitise the snake hose before storing it. If you don't have a drain snake, a metal wire coat hanger or any piece of wire will be enough. Make a hook on the wire's other end and slide it down the drain until you reach the clog. Then, pull the wire out gradually.

Remove the P-trap

Wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands, disconnect the curved section of the plumbing beneath the sink with a wrench. Remove any remaining waste and water from the trap and place it in a bucket. Using a garden hose, rinse out the P-trap outside.

After cleaning the P-trap, reattach it carefully to the plumbing system and test the sink. Remove any trapped junk if the problem is a clogged drain vent. If you don't have any necessary safety equipment, it is best to seek professional help. The same is valid for sewer line issues, which plumbing professionals can only resolve.

Citrus peels

Toss some citrus rinds into the drain of sinks with garbage disposals. Turn on the garbage disposal and chew up the skins. This not only eliminates the odour but also cleans the garbage disposal. Lemons, as discussed earlier, are the most commonly used fruit for this purpose. To help with the smell, use either the rinds or the fruity part of the lemon.

Smelly Drain Solutions To Avoid

Along with the great methods for getting rid of a sink drain smell listed above, there is one action that homeowners should avoid. Unfortunately, many homeowners rely on this method in a pinch. However, it will do more harm to your drains than good.

Chemical cleaners are not the real solution, marketed as the be-all and end-all of clog removal. You might use these harsh chemicals to get rid of grease and other stubborn clogs. Although they are effective at clearing clogs, they also damage your pipes.

The chemicals are hazardous for both the clog and your pipes. This causes irreversible corrosion, resulting in leaks at best and burst pipes at worst. Make an effort to try all of the other methods in this article and avoid using chemical cleaners. If none of the above methods work, hire a professional plumber to clear the clog for you.

Preventing Smelly Drains From Occurring

You can avoid having to deal with how to clean smelly drains by avoiding them in the first place:

  • Avoid putting fat, grease, or oil down the drain.
  • All food scraps should be discarded or composted.
  • Every week, pour boiling water down all household drains.
  • Use baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water once every month.
  • Maintain the cleanliness of your garbage disposal.
  • Use the faucets regularly to prevent the P-trap from drying out.

When Should I Call for Professional Help?

If you have tried every method to resolve the smell on your own, but it didn't work at all, then you need emergency plumbing, so don't waste any more time and just call a professional drain cleaner. It is also recommended that you contact a plumber if you suspect you have too much sulphate in your water, a severe clog, or an unknown leak. Expert plumbers have plenty of tools and tricks to help you get your sink healthy and your home smelling great again, so giving them a call is never a bad idea.

Need an Experienced Plumber?

Tropical Coast Plumbing's team of experienced plumbers are here to offer you the best in residential and commercial plumbing solutions. Whether it be gas plumbing, emergency plumbing, blocked toilets, hot water installation or general plumbing, our plumbers know how to get the job done right.

Choose Tropical Coast Plumbing for the best:

Plumbers in Mackay

Plumbers in Rockhampton

Plumbers in Townsville

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"With over 20 years of experience Tropical Coast Plumbing provide the best plumbing service and expert advice in QLD. Your local Plumber for Mackay, Townsville, Rockhampton and Yeppoon"
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