Have you ever turned on the tap only to be greeted with a putrid sewer stench wafting from your drain?
Most homeowners will encounter smelly sink drains at one point or another.
When you put all sorts of bath products and organic materials down the sink, it’s only a matter of time before you have to smell the residue.
Fortunately, you don’t have to live with stinky drains forever. Read on to learn more about why your drains smell and what you can do to fix them.
The Reason Why Your Drains Smell
Most of the time, you’ll notice stinky drains when you turn on the water in your sink, shower, or bathtub. As the water flows down the pipes, it can dislodge bits of debris and cause the smell.
To determine whether you have stinky drains or stinky water, plug the sink before you turn the water on and see if it still smells bad.
If you only notice the odor when you run water down the drain, you have a smelly drain.
Most often, these smells happen because of hair, dirt, mildew, and bacteria slime coating your pipes.
However if you are noticing the smell coming from your garbage disposal, the smell could also come from food remnants.
What You Can Do to Fix Your Drains
No matter how smelly the drain, you can have your sink back in no time with some simple steps.
Try one or a few of these natural remedies to clear your pipes and say goodbye to stink.
Should I try drain cleaner?
When you encounter a smelly drain, your first thought will likely be to run to the store and grab a bottle of a chemical drain cleaner.
Unfortunately, these products contain caustic substances that can damage your pipes and your health.
Commercial drain cleaners work by using high concentrations of corrosive chemicals like sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid to eat through the clog, but they can also eat through your pipes.
Furthermore, drain cleaners will cause injury if they get on your skin or splash into your eyes.
Keeping them in your home in general poses a health risk, particularly if you have young children, as ingesting drain cleaners can be fatal.
Instead of spending money on these dangerous products try some other substances you likely already have around the house.
Sometimes hot water alone, or mixed with some common household items, can banish bad odors!
Hot and cold water
Take a couple of quarts of very hot water and pour them down the drain. Be careful not to burn yourself.
Wait a few minutes and then follow it with a few quarts of cold water, then a few more quarts of hot water.
If hot water alone won’t cut it, here are more natural ideas you can try.
1. White Vinegar and Baking Soda
Dump a little bit of baking soda (about ¼ cup) down the drain, and follow it with a cup of vinegar.
Cover the drain so none of the solutions leaks into the sink.
The reaction of the two chemicals with break up the clog and push it down the drain.
Wait for about half an hour, then pour a few cups of boiling water down the drain to wash everything out. Be careful not to burn yourself.
2. Vinegar and Salt
If you don’t have any baking soda on hand, or you don’t want mess with the reaction in your sink, add a cup of salt to a cup of vinegar.
Mix until the salt absorbs the vinegar, making a thick paste, or add some extra vinegar to make a thinner solution that will run more easily through the pipe.
The abrasive mixture should cut through the clog. Finish by rinsing with boiling water.
Vinegar is acidic, but not at the same level as commercial drain cleaners. You likely already use it for cooking and cleaning.
Although it is a safer option, make sure to protect yourself while you’re pouring it into the drain.
Does your garbage disposal still have a lingering smell?
Run the disposal and let the ice clean off the blades. You can also put a few orange, lemon, or lime peels down the drain and run the disposal for a fresh citrus scent. The acid in the fruit peels will also help clear the drain.
If you have poured water, tried your best to clean out the source of the smell, you might need to clean out your P-Traps.
The P-trap in your sink refers to the rounded pipe under the drain.
This trap holds water to seal the pipe and prevent sewer gases from backing up through your sinks.
If your P-trap has a clog or has dried out, the smell will let you know.
You can easily clean the P-trap yourself with some simple tools. You just need a bucket or container, pliers, and a wire coat hanger or bottle brush.
Put your bucket underneath the P-trap and use pliers to take off the two nuts holding it in place.
Once you take off the trap, clean it out with the coat hanger or bottle brush. Reattach the trap, and you’ve finished.
Don’t forget to run some water to flush the drain and refill the P-trap.
Still experiencing odor problems?
It’s time to call a plumber.
If your P-trap looks clear and your drains still smell, call a plumber for a total sewer vent line inspection.
Older houses, in particular, can often encounter issues with ventilation in the plumbing.
When your ventilation doesn’t work, air from the pipes backs up through your drains instead of exiting outside your house.
A total sewer vent line inspection can restore your ventilation system when cleaning your P-traps doesn’t cut it.
How You Can Prevent Smelly Drains in the Future?
You can limit how often you have to deal with smelly drains by watching what you put down your sink. Although things like soap and shaving cream will always have to exit through the pipes, you can avoid putting certain kinds of foods down your garbage disposal.
To keep your pipes free and clear, never put the following items down your disposal:
- Any kind of oil or fat, liquid or solid.
- All starchy foods, such as potatoes and rice.
- Any fibrous or membranous foods, such as stringy vegetable peels and eggshells.
If you don’t have a garbage disposal, put mesh strainers in your kitchen sink’s drains to catch any solid food particles and keep them out of your pipes.
No matter how bad the stink, you don’t have to live with smelly drains.
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