Drains that smell bad can be frustrating to no end. Even when your Fox Valley, WI home is absolutely spotless, an odorous drain can make it feel dirty. Foul-smelling drains are a likely indication of harmful bacteria. Worse still, this means that germs may be proliferating where you wash your face and hair, brush your teeth, get your drinking water, or collect water to prepare your food. Fortunately, there are several ways to freshen drains that have started smelling like rotten eggs. Best of all, most of these drain-freshening techniques don’t require a lot of effort or spending.
Flush the Offending Drain With Water
If you’ve just returned home from a long vacation and you were greeted by a strong, sulfur smell, it may be because your drains haven’t been used for a while. Every drain line is fitted with a special trap that’s designed to keep sewer gases from entering. This trap is a U-shaped pipe. When drains are regularly used, these pipes retain a fair amount of water. This water creates an effective barrier that prevents sewer gases from rising. Insufficient drain use allows the water in U-shaped pipes to evaporate. To correct the problem, all you have to do is turn the water on and let it flow for several minutes.
Have Your Drain Traps Professionally Inspected
If flushing an unused drain with water doesn’t correct the problem, you may have a missing, faulty, or poorly installed drain trap. This is often the case when homeowners replace bathtubs, sinks, or other drain lines on their own, or when they outsource this work to unlicensed parties. If there isn’t a functional drain trap present, there is absolutely nothing preventing sewer gases from flowing in. When this is the case, no other measures will eliminate the rotten egg smell from your home until the related drain trap has been fixed, installed, or replaced.
Try Vinegar and Baking Soda
Sometimes drains smell bad simply because they’re dirty. If you smell rotten eggs at your kitchen sink, a buildup of grease is the likely culprit. Pouring grease down the kitchen drain is never advised. As it cools and hardens, it will adhere to the interior of pipe walls, inhibit the flow of water, and produce foul odors. Even if you aren’t in the habit of pouring grease down your drains, it may have accumulated over time as relatively small amounts were washed or rinsed off your dishes.
Baking soda and white vinegar offer a quick, easy, and incredibly low-cost way to fix this issue. As soon as baking soda and vinegar are mixed, a foaming, fizzing reaction occurs that breaks down stubborn buildups of grease. To use this strategy, you’ll need one cup of baking soda and one cup of white vinegar. Pour the dry baking soda down the drain and then chase it with the vinegar. If you don’t have white vinegar on hand, you can use apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar instead. Not only does this mixture freshen up foul, egg-smelling drains, but it’s also an excellent form of odor prevention. Using this combination once or twice each month will prevent unpleasant drain odors from recurring.
Keep in mind that greasy, eggy odors can be a problem in bathrooms as well. This may be the case in your home if you’ve got a slow-moving shower drain. Body oils, soap scum, and accumulations of hair can leave you with both dirty drains and stagnant water. Baking soda and vinegar are an effective combination for freshening dirty, scum-covered drains in bathrooms too. If you have a lot of residents in your home, and if your bathtubs and showers see a considerable amount of use, you can use baking soda and vinegar once a week or once every other week to keep your bathroom drains smelling fresh and working efficiently.
Check for Dirty Plumbing Vents
Plumbing vents are found at the exterior of the home on the roof. When these vents get blocked, they can also cause unpleasant, egg-smelling odors. It may be that you’ve had a bird or other animal build a nest in your plumbing vent. These spaces tend to be moist, warm, and hidden away from predators, which makes them ideal for many small animals. Visible accumulations of nesting materials are often removable by hand. In other instances, smaller bits of nesting debris may have found their way down into the vent pipe to create formidable blockages. If this is the case, you may be able to clear the blockage by feeding a snake through the vent pipeline and then using water pressure from your hose to force the blockage through. However, more often than not, this is an issue that’s best left to plumbing professionals.
Give Your Garbage Disposal Some Much-Needed Maintenance
The foul, sulfur smell that you keep picking up when you pass by your kitchen sink could be the result of a dirty, ill-maintained garbage disposal. Contrary to what many consumers think, the garbage disposal isn’t a substitute for a waste bin. Your leftovers should be going into the compost pile or the trash. This unit is designed to grind up small scraps and other leavings that would normally get captured by a drain cover or drain sieve if a disposal wasn’t installed. One large part of maintaining a garbage disposal is learning how to use it correctly. Don’t put potato peels or coffee grounds into this unit, and always run it while warm water is flowing. Bits of food can get stuck on garbage disposal blades and cause odors. Moreover, foods that this unit can’t fully process will linger at the bottom and rot.
To freshen everything up, get out your baking soda and white vinegar again. You can also run the disposal after putting a few ice cubes down inside. Ice cubes will break down potentially odorous accumulations of food and grease that are stuck on the disposal’s blades. Another easy way to make your garbage disposal smell fresh is by grinding up the peels of citrus fruits while running hot water. Lemon peels, orange peels, or grapefruit peels all work well. The fragrant oils that these peels emit are both fresh-smelling and capable of breaking down stubborn food deposits. However, after you’ve freshened your disposal with citrus peels, unplug the unit, reach in, and then pull the remaining peels out. Much as with coffee grounds and potato peels, garbage disposals cannot fully process citrus peels either.
Drains that reek of rotten eggs can be the result of many different problems. Although a simple solution of equal parts baking soda and vinegar will often freshen funky drains up, pervasive sulfur smells sometimes indicate the need for professional attention. If you’ve tried all of your normal drain-freshening techniques and the odor hasn’t gone away, you should call a plumber in. Not only can plumbers identify and eliminate the exact cause of the problem, but they can also share helpful tips for preventing future issues.
At Black-Haak, we’ve been serving residents of Greenville, Fox Valley, and the surrounding areas since 1956. We provide heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical services, as well as an impressive range of top-rated thermostats, boilers, and geothermal heating products.
If you’ve got a pervasive, persistent smell coming from your drains, we can help. Call us today to schedule an appointment for service.