Finding Plumbing Issues Early

3 Potential Causes For Smelly Drains In Your Home – And How To Check

by Chris Bowman

Have one or more drains in your home started giving off a funky smell? The cause could range from the harmless to potentially harmful sewer gases so it's important to identify the cause. There are a few places you can check to start, but if you don't feel comfortable performing these checks yourself, call a plumbing services company, such as ACC Drain & Sewer, in for assistance. You might need the plumber for the fix, anyway.

Sink Trap

Is the smell only coming from one sink that's older in style or rarely used? There might be a problem with the sink trap. Before you try and fix anything, check to see what kind of trap the sink has.

Older sinks might have an s-trap sink. Look under your sink and trace the pipe that comes out directly from the bottom. If it goes down, curves up, then back down and attaches vertically to a drainpipe, then you have an s-trap. These are no longer in use because the setup makes it far too easy for sewer gases down the line to come up and into your sink. Call a plumber to have the trap replaced.

If your trap is shaped more like the letter "p" and attaches horizontally to the drainpipe, you have a p-trap and that should be fine. A p-trap is still capable of holding stagnant water if the sink isn't used frequently. If you have some plumbing experience, you can get under the sink, remove the curved portion of the p-trap that's connected by nuts and washers, and clean out that section with running water in another sink.

Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal can start to stink, even if you use it frequently and run water during use. Small particles of food can still get stuck and slowly rot.

You can clean and deodorize your garbage disposal using the skin of a lemon. Run the disposal with water flowing out of the faucet. Allow the lemon peel to run through the disposal like normal food. Check to see if the smell is persisting. If it isn't, you've solved the problem.

A persisting smell can be a sign of sewer gases coming up the line or a clog deeper down the line. Call a plumber for troubleshooting and assistance.

Roof Vent

Your plumbing's upper-most point is the vent pipes sticking out through the roof of your home. If you've ruled out any other cause of smelly drains, you might want to check those vents if you have a large ladder and careful footing.

Check the pipes on the roof for any noticeable debris near the top, which can include rotting leaves, tree limbs, or a dead bird. Carefully remove what debris you can remove ensuring you're wearing protective gloves. You can then use a hose to spray water down the vent and try to remove any clogs that might exist further down the line.

If you've tried all these steps and your pipes still smell odd, call a plumber for help.

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