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Funky Smell Inside Your Home? It Could Be Coming From Your Drainage System

When your home’s plumbing and drainage system was installed, all of the pipes were clean and odor-free. However, over continued use and age, you may start to notice foul and funky smells coming up from the drains in your home. The reason for these smells could be caused by several different factors. In some cases, you might be able to resolve the problem on your own without having to call in a professional plumber.Man plugging his nose

Smells from Bathrooms

The types of foul smells that are coming from the drains could smell like rotting eggs. You may notice the smell more strongly when running water, and this is because the gases are being displaced up the drain.

Smells from the Laundry Room

You may notice foul smells coming up from the discharge hose drain line in your laundry room. You could also notice these smells if you empty the water from your washer down the drain in a laundry room sink. The odors might smell like dirt, mold, or mildew.

Smells from the Kitchen

There can be all sorts of smells that emit from the drains in the kitchen sink. If you have a dual-sink, like most homes, then the smells could be coming up both sides of the sink. Smells can range in levels depending on what is in the drain pipes and could smell like rotten eggs or rotting meat and other foods.

Woman gagging from smelly drain

What Causes Drains to Smell?

The smells are normally the result of bacteria in the drain pipes, which will produce gases and release them. Food, grease, various liquids, soaps, detergents, and other such things you put down your drains can cause the bacteria to form.

The bacteria are not necessarily bad, as their primary purpose is to break down the residue left inside the drainage system. However, as they break down the residue inside the pipes, gas is created. It is this gas that smells so bad and which stinks up the entire house.

In some cases, the cause of the smell could be sewer gases that are coming back up the drain lines. Sewer gas smells tend to be stronger than other odors coming from the drainage system and smell like raw sewage.

Do I Need to Call an Emergency Plumber?

This largely depends on the source of the smell. For many types of smells, you are often able to resolve them yourself quickly and easily using various methods.

However, if the cause of the smell is from raw sewage, and it is coming up the drains in the home, then you definitely will want to call for an emergency plumbing service right away. Something is wrong with the sewer drain lines—there could be a major clog, broken pipe, broken backflow, or another problem that will require the help of a professional.

Identifying the Source of the Smell

Figuring out what is causing the smell will help determine what you can do to help get rid of it. This can be done by doing a process of elimination and answering the following questions:

Do you hear gurgling sounds coming from the drains when water is not on?

If you hear gurgling sounds and smell funky odors, this could indicate a cracked, broken, or blocked sewer drain pipe. It is highly recommended to call a plumbing company and schedule service since the source be more difficult to pinpoint and fix.

When was the last time the drain was used?

Under each drain in the home should be a drain trap in the shape of a “P” or “U.” The water trapped in this area helps stop smells from coming back up. If the water evaporates and the trap is dry, smells could start to come up the drain.

If this is the case, simply run cold water down the drain for about three minutes and shut it off. The smell should now be gone since water is back inside the drain trap.


Are the air vents blocked?

If you have recently used all the drains in the home, and there are no gurgling sounds coming up the drain, then the smells might stem from a blocked air vent. Most homes have special vents that draw foul-smelling gases up the pipes and release them through the pipes’ openings on the roof.

You will want to check for obvious blockages, like a bird’s nest, leaves, or other debris that has gotten stuck in the vent pipe. If you dislike getting on your roof, then it is recommended to call a professional plumber to check your drain system air vents for you.

Do you have a garbage disposal or put other food down the drains in your kitchen?

If you have a garbage disposal, it can be very tempting to put a wide range of food waste down the sink. Even if you don’t have a garbage disposal, you may pour hot grease or push small food particles through the drain cover.

Grease and food particles can stick to the inside of the pipe’s walls. Over time, as the bacteria are breaking down the waste and releasing gases, it will stink up the kitchen sink because the grease and food are essentially rotting.

How to Get Rid of the Smell

Before you use any type of plumbing product found at your local grocery store or retailer, it is important to understand that most of these contain harmful chemicals. In addition, these products are formulated to target only specific types of problems and may not even be effective.

In some cases, when the chemicals mix with the bacteria in the drain lines, it can cause a chemical reaction and release harmful gases back up the drain. That being said, let’s look at some better ways to get rid of the foul smells coming from the drain pipes in your home.

  • Clean the Drain Traps: It is easy to remove the drain traps from most under-sink areas and clean them. Mix in a bucket a dish soap that cuts through grease. Drop the drain trap into the bucket and let it soak for about 20 minutes.

Next, take a small cloth and push it through the drain trap and pull it back out the other side. You can also use a toothbrush to help remove caked-on debris and grease. Once most of the debris has been removed from the inside of the pipe, rinse the drain trap in cool water and reinstall it.

  • Use Baking Soda and Vinegar: For drains where you cannot access the drain trap easily, you can use baking soda and vinegar to help get rid of foul-smelling odors. You may also use baking soda and vinegar in your garbage disposal to get rid of funky smells.

Start off by putting baking soda down the drain. For most bathroom drains, one to two tablespoons is sufficient. Next, pour about a quarter cup of vinegar down the drain. You should hear the foaming reaction when the vinegar comes into contact with the baking soda. Wait about twenty minutes, and then run cool water down the drain for about three minutes.

  • Clean Your Washing Machine: Water can remain in the bottom of the washing machine. This can create a dirt-like or moldy odor inside the machine as well as in the drain lines. There are several different washing machine cleaning tablets you can use to clean the inside of the machine to get rid of this smell.
  • Clean Your Dishwasher: Newer dishwashers may retain a small amount of water from the previous wash cycle. If you don’t use your dishwasher on a regular basis, this water can start to stink and come up the drain lines. Use a dishwasher cleaning tablet product to help get rid of the smell. If you don’t use your dishwasher that often, leaves the door slightly open so the water can evaporate.

If the smells return and just will not go away, then it is time to call a professional plumber for help. In some cases, the debris on the inside of the pipe walls could be so thick that they need to be professionally cleaned.

In other cases, the drainage system lines could have absorbed odors, especially if they are PVC or PEX type lines, and need to be replaced. Replacing older PVC and PEX pipes with new ones will get rid of the foul smells.

For assistance in troubleshooting and determining the cause of funky smells coming from your drain lines, drain line cleaning, and other plumbing services, please feel free to contact MET Plumbing & Air Conditioning at 281-599-3336 today!

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