Have you recently noticed the smell of sewage, rotten eggs or other unpleasant odors coming from your drains? If so, there is usually no reason to panic. If your plumbing is working right and in good shape, you really shouldn’t ever smell anything coming from your drains. However, if you do notice an unpleasant odor coming from your sink or shower or when you run your washing machine, the issue is likely caused by one of the following factors.
1. Drains Are Dirty or Partially Clogged
One of the biggest mistakes many people make when it comes to their plumbing is to falsely assume that their drains and pipes can handle anything and everything. This simply isn’t the case. Things like grease, fat, oil, food particles and hair should never go down the drain. When these items go down the sink, they can collect in the drain and build up inside your pipes, which can result in a blockage and also cause your drains to smell bad.
Having a bunch of old grease and decaying food stuck inside your pipes obviously isn’t going to smell nice. Similarly, anyone who has ever had to pull a slimy wad of old hair out of their shower drain knows that it doesn’t smell the greatest, either. Basically, any type of organic material that sits in your drains creates the ideal breeding grounds for a whole host of bacteria to grow, and it is this bacteria that is responsible for producing those unpleasant odors. Therefore, if you smell bad odors coming from your drain, it is usually a good sign that your pipes are partially clogged and bacteria is growing inside of them.
The best way to take care of this problem is to clean your drains. Simply pouring some liquid dish soap down the drain and then flushing it with very hot water is one easy way to quickly clean your drains. This method should help eliminate at least some of the odor and may even help loosen up or eliminate clogs caused by fat, grease and oil. Some people also have luck with using baking soda in the drain and then pouring vinegar down it. If neither of these methods eliminates the odors, then it is usually time to call a plumber and have your drains professionally cleaned.
2. Garbage Disposal Is Dirty
As with your drains, a dirty garbage disposal can also cause unpleasant odors to come from your kitchen sink. In this case, it is necessary to clean the garbage disposal, which can be done in a number of different ways. To start, you should first unplug the unit and then use a flashlight to look down the drain to make sure there is nothing blocking it. If you do notice anything blocking the drain, you should always use tongs or long pliers to remove it instead of sticking your hand inside the disposal.
After checking the drain, plug the disposal back in and then fill your sink up with hot, soapy water. Next, remove the plug from the sink and let the hot water drain down the disposal. Finally, unplug the garbage disposal again and use a long-handled brush to thoroughly scrub the inside of the drain and disposal.
You can also try to clean your garbage disposal by simply putting two cups of ice and one cup of kosher or rock salt down the drain. After putting these down the drain, turn on the disposal and the cold water, letting the water run until the disposal has fully ground up the ice and salt.
Cleaning the disposal with vinegar and baking soda is another option. In this case, pour some baking soda down the drain followed by a few cups of vinegar. Let this mixture sit inside the disposal for 10 minutes or so and then flush it down using hot water.
A regular monthly cleaning of your garbage disposal is the best way to ensure it doesn’t smell. However, sometimes even this isn’t enough. In that case, many people have had luck by putting citrus rinds into the disposal in order to freshen up the smell.
3. P-Trap Is Dry or Improperly Installed
Every one of your drains should have what is known as a P-trap. This includes your sinks, showers and bathtubs and also your washing machine and any floor drains you have. The drain trap is designed to prevent sewer gases from coming back up through your plumbing and out of the drain. It works by trapping water inside the bend, which then blocks the sewer gases from getting through the trap.
However, if you haven’t used that particular drain in some time, the water inside the trap may have evaporated, and thus sewer gas can come wafting up through the drain. The easiest way to prevent this problem is to make sure to run some water down each of your drains at least once a month to ensure the trap remains full of water. Likewise, fixing this issue is as simple as running the water for a short period in order to refill the trap.
If this doesn’t resolve the issue, then it could be a sign that your P-trap is improperly installed. Alternatively, if you live in a home with older plumbing, it might be that your drain doesn’t actually have a P-trap. In either case, you’ll need to enlist the help of a professional plumber to overcome the issue.
4. Vent Pipe Is Clogged, Damaged or Missing
All of the drains in your home are connected to a system of vent pipes that runs from the drains up and out through the roof. These pipes are designed to vent sewer gas out of the plumbing to prevent odors. However, if the vent pipes are clogged or damaged, they may allow this gas to escape inside the home or come back up through your drains. Although it is not very common, there are also situations where the vent pipes may be missing entirely or improperly installed. Either way, this is another situation where you’ll want to call a professional plumber to have the vent pipes inspected and possibly repaired or replaced.
5. Sump Pump Is Causing Bad Odors
If you notice bad odors coming from your basement sump pump, there could be a number of potential causes. The issue might be a sign that your sump pump isn’t working properly, which can cause water to sit inside your sump pit and stagnate. Alternatively, it might indicate that wastewater is draining into your sump pit.
A sump pump is really only designed to handle groundwater in order to prevent flooding. However, some homes are set up so that wastewater from their washing machine, utility sink or other water source drains into the sump pit instead of into the sewer line as it should. Although this is becoming increasingly less common, it does still happen. When this is the case, it’s necessary to contact a plumber to have the wastewater rerouted into the sewer line.
Your Local Plumbing Experts
If you’re having issues with smelly drains at your home in San Antonio, Anchor Plumbing Services is here to help. Our professional team can assist with unclogging your drains or diagnosing whatever other issue may be causing the bad odors. As a full-service plumbing company, we also offer installation, maintenance and repair for water heaters, garbage disposals, water softeners, faucets, toilets and more. If you need more information or want to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to give us a call.