Does Your Drain Smell? Here’s Why!

At Apollo Plumbing, we like to make Washington homeowners aware of various plumbing issues they may face. One of these you might not even immediately identify as a plumbing problem. You could just notice a bad smell in your kitchen, and it isn’t until you smell the sink drain that you realize where it’s coming from.

Nothing can put a damper on your enjoyment of your home, not to mention your appetite, more than an awful odor coming up through your kitchen sink drain. This problem has several potential causes. Some of them are simple enough that you can probably fix the issue yourself. For others, you may need the assistance of knowledgeable professionals, such as our team of licensed plumbers.

The following are some of the main culprits for a smelly sink drain.

  1. Mold or Mildew Growth

    In this instance, the smell will not be coming from the drain itself. You may have a barely noticeable leak in a pipe under the sink, which is soaking the wood underneath. Moisture is a fundamental ingredient for mold and mildew growth. You should look and feel under your sink for any wet areas to ascertain whether there is a leak.

    If your unpleasant odor problem is caused by a leaking pipe, you will need to locate and fix the leak. Once found, there are pipe thread sealant products on the market that will do a lot better job than duct tape and prayer. If you can’t find the leak or are not a do-it-yourself type when it comes to plumbing work, you should contact us to handle the problem for you.

  2. Presence of Bacteria

    This is the main cause of bad odors from a drain after eliminating leaks as a possibility. Especially after years of use, any kitchen sink will see an unholy assortment of nasty food scraps, hair and other waste make their way down the drain. This can make that drain a natural breeding ground for bacteria. While some bacteria growth is perfectly normal, too much can cause smells no one wants in their home.

  3. A Dirty Garbage Disposal

    A garbage disposal is a wonderful modern convenience. Because it is so convenient, however, many people may be too reliant on it and end up putting all sorts of waste and scraps down into it. This can quickly lead to dirt buildup in the garbage disposal, which makes it a likely source of nasty odors.

    You certainly don’t want to remove your garbage disposal and clean it by hand. You may not even know how to do this, and reinstalling it improperly afterward could lead to a whole new set of problems. Fortunately, you should not need to do this. While first making sure your garbage disposal unit is turned off, put ice cubes and coarse salt down the drain, and then you’ll turn it on for about a minute. The ice and salt should help knock any accumulated dirt and debris off the garbage disposal’s blades. You can also throw in some lemon peels toward the end of running the disposal to add a nice fresh and fruity aroma. Grapefruit and orange rinds provide another scent option.

  4. Grease Down Your Drain

    Grease is one of the leading culprits behind drain clogs. Some people believe it’s fine to pour grease down the kitchen sink as long as you accompany it with dish soap and hot water. This is a big mistake. No matter how much soap and hot water you pour down the drain after the grease, it will cool and congeal along the sides of the pipes at some point. This often translates into buying some Drano or pulling out the plunger for some drain unclogging action. Before it reaches this point, however, it starts with sending some not-so-pleasant odors back up into your kitchen.

  5. Drain Trap Issues

    When you smell sewage odors, a problem with your drain trap is a likely cause. The trap in your drain is that u-shaped part of your sink pipe. Basically, it’s that part of the drain pipe where water collects, which has the effect of blocking sewer gases from coming back up your drain.

    If the sink hasn’t been used in a while, it’s possible that the water in the trap evaporated. This is easily handled by running water down the drain. If it still smells, you can try removing the trap and cleaning it out. There are plenty of do-it-yourself YouTube videos on how to do this. After putting it back in, be sure to look at it as you run water down the drain to make sure it isn’t leaking.

  6. Your Sewer Drain Vent Might Be Clogged

    Improper drainage and unpleasant odors are two of the main symptoms of a clogged sewer drain vent. This vent takes the form of a narrow shaft that connects the sewer line to the air outside. This vent typically ends at the roof of your home, which is why cleaning it can sometimes be tricky. If you’ve tried plunging and liquid drain cleaning products to no avail, then it’s a good chance that your problem is a clogged drain vent. Going up on a roof can be risky, so you might want to let our professionals at Apollo Plumbing handle this job for you.

  7. Bad Plumbing Work

    Did this bad smell only start coming from your sink soon after you had some plumbing work done? This is a sign that they may have done something wrong. Perhaps they didn’t properly install a pipe, joint or seal, and this means a leak is causing mold or mildew growth. If this is the case, you should contact the plumbers who did the work to have them check it again.

Remedies for Sink Smells

Some remedies were mentioned above for specific sink smell causes. In the case of smells caused by bacteria, dirt, gunk and other contaminants, the following advice should prove useful.

  • Mild Odor Remedies

    If the smell is not too bad, you might be fortunate enough that using hot water and dish soap will fix the problem. You start by filling your sink with a few inches of hot water. Add a generous amount of dish soap. You’ll then simply remove the drain plug and let it flow down.

  • Resolving Stronger Odors

    The next level above soap and water is using baking soda and vinegar for drain cleaning. You only need to pour about a cup of vinegar and the same amount of baking soda down the drain. You wait about 10 to 15 minutes, and then you flush the drain with hot water.

When You Need a Professional

There are some odor control and drain clearing issues that will be too involved for any Washington homeowner. If soap, baking soda and lemon peels are not doing the job, this is when you’ll want to call the professionals at Apollo Plumbing.

If your drains are smelly or not functioning properly, we can give them a professional drain clearing with our Hydrojet service. This technology utilizes the eco-friendly power of water pressure to bring about long-lasting drain cleaning while also unclogging and cleaning your sewer line. Please give us a call for any plumbing issues outside your control, and one of our screened and well-trained plumbers will get to the bottom of the problem quickly and cost-effectively.