What is That Smell Coming from My Drain?

bad smell faceThere is no mistaking the foul smell of a stinky drain.  But where is the smell actually coming from?  To get rid of the foul odor, you have to first correctly identify the cause of it.  There are a few different reasons why a sink or shower drain emits a foul smell.  Here are the reasons why and what you should do about them so you are not stuck smelling yuck or biding time until that big plumbing problem occurs.

The Common Culprit

More often than not a smelly drain is caused by a clog.  Over time, drains become gunked up with a little bit of everything.  The first sign could be a slowing down of the water, but the smell is often not too far behind.  Baking soda and vinegar is a home remedy that is safe to pour down the drain.  The two substances form a foam that gently cleans away debris.  If the drain is too clogged, try pouring a pot of boiling water.  This could work to loosen up the clog and be more accepting of the baking soda and vinegar.  Avoid putting harmful strong solutions such as bleach down the drain.  Bleach can weaken rubber seals and gaskets, causing leaks in inconvenient places.  There is also an inexpensive tool found at hardware or home improvement stores called the Zip-it.  It is a narrow and long plastic strip with serrated points on it to grab whatever may be down the drain and pull it back up.  If the smell still remains, call a Melbourne area plumber.  It may be a less common culprit.

The “Stench Pipe”

Plumbers commonly refer to SVPs as the “Stench Pipe”.  These SVPs are simply soil vent pipes.  They prevent the gas by-product of sewage from entering back into the home.  When there is not adequate SVP ventilation, the gas has to go somewhere.  The only way the gas can enter the home is back up through the drains.  Sometimes the solution is simply to check the SVP outside of the house to ensure there isn’t a bird’s nest resting on top.  Another reason a SVP may be causing a smelly drain is if the septic tank has backed up to it.  In older homes, the SVP is commonly placed just outside the house and has been known to have a failed soakaway.  This needs to be addressed right away and the tank pumped to prevent costly cleanup and repairs.

Some plumbers may opt for air admittance valves; however, if you have a septic system this type of ventilation is not appropriate and will cause smelly drains.  They work best with homes that are connected to mainline sewage.

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