It’s a phrase that we may hear around our homes a little more than we would like; “What’s that smell?” An almost endless array of circumstances could lead someone to utter these words, such as a gas leak or something burning on the stove. But drains in bathtubs and showers and sinks in bathrooms and kitchens are often notorious sources for emitting undesirable odors.
What Causes Drains to Emit Odors?
Various factors can be responsible for a foul-smelling drain. In a kitchen sink, food scraps, old dishwater, grease or sludge can accumulate in the area just below the strainer within the garbage disposal — if one exists — or in the trap. A sink’s “trap” is the U-shaped pipe that travels down from the drain opening.
In showers, tubs and bathroom sinks, soap residue, hair and bacteria can build up underneath a drain opening or within gaskets and stoppers. Unpleasant smells will result if these are not thoroughly cleaned on a fairly regular basis.
Another common cause of smelly drains is depleted water levels within a sink’s trap. A trap system is built to maintain a reservoir of water that blocks smells from sewer lines and other plumbing from drifting up through a drain. A leaky trap can affect this water level, which is not hard to repair. But if a sewage smell is present and doesn’t go away no matter what you do, serious plumbing problems may be at hand, such as a cracked pipe underneath the house.
Addressing the Problem
If a clogged trap is suspected, turn the water off in the house and remove the trap for cleaning. Traps are relatively easy to disassemble. But if you feel more comfortable trying a plunger or using a plumbing snake, these can also be very effective.
Baking soda, bleach, vinegar and lemon juice are used by many homeowners to freshen up drains. Ice can be deposited into a garbage disposal to knock stubborn refuse from its blades. But drain cleaning itself requires a little elbow grease. If odors still exist after exhausting all efforts, it may be necessary to call in the professionals for plumbing repairs.
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The Unclog Blog is written & published by Thompson Plumbing Heating & Cooling