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.
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. In the case of 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 remedies to clear your pipes and say goodbye to stink.
Flush the Drain with Hot Water
Sometimes hot water alone, or mixed with some common household items, can banish bad odors. Take a couple quarts of very hot water and pour them down the drain. 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, you can mix one part bleach with 10 parts hot water and pour them down the drain. The bleach will kill odor-causing bacteria and the hot water will flush out sediment. You can also try half a cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda. Pour the baking soda into the drain first and follow it with the vinegar. Let it sit and then flush with hot water.
Grind Ice and Citrus Peels in the Garbage Disposal
To clean out your garbage disposal, dump a few handfuls of ice down the drain. 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 pee ls will also help clear the drain.
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 fr om 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.
Schedule a Total Sewer Vent Line Inspection
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 an d 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 the m out of your pipes.
No matter how bad the stink, you don’t have to live with smelly drains. Use these tips and techniques to clear your drains and keep odors at bay.