Ew! What is that smell?! It must surely be coming from outside. No, wait… It’s the bathroom drain. There must be something in the kitchen cupboard to stop the smell. What? It’s in the kitchen, too! What is going on? Neighbourhood kids’ prank? Someone’s mother is getting a very stern phone call.
So why do your drains smell?
Unfortunately, you can’t blame this one on the kids next door. There are lots of different reasons for the foul smell emanating for your drains. Old food, hair, and anything else you may have pushed down the drain that has now gone a smidge manky cause blockages.
A blockage may also form in unused pipes. So if you haven’t used a sink or bath in while, the gases from the drain system may leak back. Simply run the water for a while to solve the problem.
But don’t rule it out as a serious problem just yet
You thought it was an unused pipe, so you poured down all the disinfectants and drain cleaners you could find. Yet the smell persists. This could mean more serious plumbing issues, such as lack of soil vent pipes or blocked septic tank drains. Soil vent pipes or stench pipes prevent drain smells from going back into the house. SVPs are usually connected to septic tanks. So if either the tank or the pipe has a problem, the sewage gases are pushed back through the pipes back into the house. This is actually quite dangerous, as many sewage gases are toxic, so call a professional plumber ASAP.
Also, if the water itself smells like sulphur, contact your utility company. In the case that your water supply is from a private source, have it tested by a lab.
Okay, but it’s not an unused sink, I don’t have a septic tank and although it’s hard to tell with the rank smell, I’m pretty sure it’s not sulphur. How do I make the smell go away!?
So we have a few reasons for the smell. However, right now all you probably want to know is how to get rid of it and how to prevent this nose-scourge from happening again.
Here are 4 tips
- Check if the drain is actually blocked. There is a “P Trap” (the U-shaped pipe under your interior drains) that could be the problem. A minor drainage blockage can leave a bad smell. Elbow grease and the plunger are your best friends right now. If there was a bit of a blockage that you have now cleared (pat on the back), you can move on to step two.
- Pour a generous quantity of baking soda into the smelly drain. Wait for about 45 minutes, and then pour down an equal quantity of vinegar. This will cause foaming as the vinegar reacts with the soda (great science project for the kids). Wait for another 15 minutes before running hot water down the drain. If there is still a residual smell, pour one cup of lemon juice down there too. Some also suggest adding salt as an additional form of abrasion to break up the bundle of not-joy accosting your nasal passages.
- If the smell still persists, it’s time for some chemical warfare. Pour a small amount of bleach mixed with water into the drain. Exercise caution while doing so, to prevent any splattering. Rinse the drain with cold water.
- Are you kidding me? It’s still there! Before you decide to investigate the science of nuclear fission, call someone who has more effective weapons in their arsenal. A licenced plumber will do a thorough inspection of the drain.
It’s fixed. To keep the drains smelling fresh, be sure to get a drain strainer which will work in a bath or kitchen sink. It will prevent all the solid matter that we sometimes (go on, admit it) shove down the drain holes from going down and make it nice and easy for you to take out and chuck the bits in the bin. You can also make a habit of pouring baking soda and boiling water down the drain on a regular basis.
It’s not a pipe dream – you too can have clean smelling drains!