What Causes A Smelly Drain & How To Prevent It

Smelly drains are never a nice thing to experience in your home, but understanding what causes them and how to prevent them can be a blessing. So in this article, we’re going to give you some practical tips on how to prevent a smelly drain and also give you a number of common causes so you understand why it happens in the first place.

What Causes Smelly Drains?

1. A Dry P-Trap

Have you ever wondered how a normal-functioning drain manages to keep bad smells out of your drains? Every drain has a p-trap which is essentially a U shaped curved section that is filled with water. The water creates a barrier which blocks any bad smells from coming back up the pipe, but there are times when the water could evaporate, dry up or even leak out.

First, if the drain hasn’t been used for a while then you may want to run the tap for a few minutes to see if the smell clears. The goal is to fill the p-trap with water so that it forms the barrier again. If there are smelly gasses still trapped in the drain pipes then the smell may persist, but it should be gone within a few minutes.

2. Venting Issues

If the p-trap isn’t the source of the problem, then there could be something else that is causing sewer gas to enter your home. One such location is your venting pipes. These will typically lead somewhere outside of your home such as to the roof, meaning they can occasionally become clogged by things like debris and animal nests. To get rid of these clogs, it’s important to visually inspect these pipes but you may need to call assistance to have these checked.

3. Sewer Issues

If all of your drains are smelly then it could indicate a sewer line fault. These are supposed to carry wastewater out of your home but if there’s an issue, hen the odours will like come back into the home through every pipe. Sewer line issues are also accompanied by drain clogs and also the occasional gurgling sound that you might hear at night or when using the tap.

If you believe that it may be your sewer causing the fault, then it’s vital that you contact a specialist to help you instead of attempting to fix the issue on your own.

4. Food Waste

If your drains are running slowly, occasionally clogging and frequently smell bad, then there could be an issue with food waste causing a blockage. Over time, this waste can decompose inside of your drains if they’re stuck, causing your drains to start smelling. The problem can persist for a long time, but can usually be solved by using hot water and a solution to break down the food debris.

How To Prevent Smelly Drains?

Now we’re going to take a look at a couple of prevention methods to fight against smelly drains.

Avoid putting anything that could cause blockages down your drain. This includes any kind of food waste, packaging materials and other organic material such as hair. Oils and fats can also cause buildup within your pipe systems, so avoid it at all costs and make sure you have a mesh to catch any kind of waste that might accidentally enter your drains, then throw it away in your trash bin.

Another common tip to prevent smelly drains is to keep the pipework in your home fresh. If it’s been a long time since you’ve moved into your home or frequently have to call in a plumber to fix some kind of blockage in your pipes, then they could be starting to wear out because of their age. Replacing your pipes gives you a chance to clean out all the debris in your pipework and refresh it with brand new clean pipes that aren’t stained by grease, oil, hair and other waste.

Run your taps occasionally, especially if you have guest bathrooms and sinks that aren’t used very often. This will prevent the water in the p-trap evaporating to the point that it allows nasty gases to come back up the drain and into your home. You likely won’t need to do this for drains that are frequently used, and if the smell is coming from drains that see regular use, it could indicate a more pressing issue.

Hopefully, this article has shown you a couple of ways to identify and also prevent smelly drains. Ultimately, the easiest way to identify and remove a nasty smell is to speak to a professional plumbing company and have them check. This will save you a lot of time, effort and potentially even money.