Home » Causes of smelly drains (and what you can do about them!)

Causes of smelly drains (and what you can do about them!)

Imagine coming home from work – just like any other evening – but being met with a foul odour saturating your home. Yikes! What on earth is that, and what’s the cause?

A bad smell is a common indicator that something is not quite right, and in many cases, a horrible smell inside the home can indicate a problem with drainage.

plumber melbourne for smelly drains

Causes of smelly drains

Smelly drains don’t just come from nowhere; they are often a result of one of the following:

  • A sewer gas trap problem
  • An organic build up
  • Sewer line problems

We look at each cause below.

Sewer gas trap problem

A sewer gas trap is a part of the drain where water is stored. Its purpose is to block gases from making their way through the pipe and into your home. You might also know a sewer gas trap as a P-trap.

You can immediately spot where a P-trap is located by looking at a pipe and noticing where it dips down into a U-shape. This is where the water sits.

This water is refreshed every time you use your sink or shower: old water is flushed and the newly drained water takes its spot.

The following are common problems associated with sewer gas traps:

1) Water is not being stored properly in the trap

If water is not sitting properly in the P-trap, the gases can make their way through the pipe and into your home.

The main culprit for this is usually a leak. Check for water damage on the floor surrounding the sink or drain. If you can’t reasonably determine a leak, you ought to call a plumber in Melbourne who can investigate further.

2) The sink/shower is not being used frequently

If your sink or shower is not used often (for example, in a guest bedroom or basement), the trap will dry up, allowing the bad smells to surface.

To help eliminate this cause, make sure to run water through fixtures that are not regularly used in order to replace water that may have evaporated over time.

Smelly drains - P-trap

Organic build up problems

An organic build up problem is also a common cause of smelly drains.

In fact, most blocked drains we see in Melbourne are caused by simple build-up. This build up can lead to not only a foul smell but slow-flowing or blocked drains, too.

These organic build-ups are residues that accumulate over time in the trap or the pipes. The most common objects and elements that result in partial pipe blockages, leading to smelly drains, are:

  • Hair
  • Toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Grease
  • Food waste

The best preventative measure is to fill all sinks with sink strainers, but if the damage has already been done, and you’ve noticed a pungent scent emitting from your sinks, try out the two tips below:

1) Remove drain covers and try to pull out remnants as soon as possible. This isn’t the most pleasant of jobs, but removing tangled hair mixed with soap scum can help to clear drains almost immediately.

2) Try a baking soda/vinegar/hot water combo to soften built-up elements in the drain, allowing it to flow naturally.

We do not recommend you try anything more than the above. If it seems too complicated, don’t try to push yourself beyond your skillset. Not only can you risk damage, you can risk safety, too.

(And there’s nothing more frustrating than taking something apart only to realise you can’t remember how to put it back together – we’ve all had those “D’oh!” moments!)

Sewer line issues

If you’ve noticed a bad smell coming from multiple sinks in your home, this may indicate a broken or blocked sewer line. A bad small is often accompanied by loud gurgling from your pipes.

Best to get this one inspected ASAP!


When is it time to call a professional plumber in Melbourne?

Smelly and blocked drains are common across Melbourne. Sometimes, they are preventable and you can solve the problem with some simple cleaning measures.

But in other cases that are beyond our control, smelly drains can indicate a larger problem that ought to be inspected and rectified by a qualified plumber.

The Watermaster team is available to help identify the cause and create the solution to smelly drains. Contact us today and let us help improve your home’s plumbing, one sink at a time. Call Sam now!

2022-01-25T05:14:49+00:00 May 30th, 2017|Blog|