Unmasking the Mystery: Why Does Your Plumbing Smell?


why does my plumbing smell

If a nasty stink emanates from your drains, you’re not alone. It’s a common problem. But what’s the cause?

It might be as simple as bacteria or a blockage, or it could be more dangerous, such as a sewer gas leak. When you smell anything strange from your drains, perform detective work to find the cause.

Here are some of the most prevalent causes of nasal plugging caused by drains. Some have straightforward do-it-yourself solutions. Others need the services of a skilled plumber.

Top Causes of Bad-Smelling Drains

Bacteria Buildup

why does my plumbing smell

The smell could come from something as simple as bacteria and gunk buildup. Think about everything that goes down your drains, including food, hair, and dirt. When those items get stuck in the pipes, a smell can follow. Smells often accompany blockages, so it’s a good sign that it’s time to clear your pipes.

Clearing your pipes should eliminate the odor (and sluggish drainage). To guarantee that your drains are thoroughly cleaned, contact the specialists at HELP. We have offered drain cleaning services to Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, and Southern Indiana households for over 80 years.

  1. Dry P-Trap

why does my plumbing smell

If your drain hasn’t been used recently, you might need to run the water and refill the P-trap to eliminate the smell. Drain lines have a goose-necked section of pipe installed to block sewer gas from wafting through the drain. When the sink isn’t used, the water in the trap evaporates.

This open drain causes the smell and allows the gas to enter your home. Run a little water through each of your faucets once a month to keep P-traps from drying out.

Clogged or Missing Vent Pipes 

You may or may not be aware that your drain pipes are linked to a network of vent pipes that enable fresh air to enter while allowing wastewater gas and stink to depart. When combined with the drains, this is known as the drain-waste-vent (DWV) system. Vertical vent pipes often escape through the roof, away from windows and other vents.

Clogs in the main stack may cause various problems, including stinky drains. If you don’t have vent pipes, talk to a professional plumber about installing them.

Stink from the Sump

If you notice a strange odor from your basement sump pump, you may channel wastewater into the sump pump rather than the main sewage drain line. Water from the washing machine may sometimes be directed into the sump pump, where it can gather and generate a foul odor.

You may lessen the scent by minimizing the number of pipes that drain into your sump pump. Make sure you have a tight-fitting cover over the top to prevent odors from entering your house. It will also prevent items from falling inside and accumulating.


When oil or fat congeals in your kitchen sink drain, it may produce a rotten egg or mold odor. It is critical to never dump grease down the drain. Pour 2 tablespoons of baking soda down the drain, followed by vinegar and a kettle of boiling water. This solution will dissolve the muck as the water washes it away.

Garbage Disposal

why does my plumbing smell
Food scraps left to decay in the trash disposal in the kitchen will stink. A moldy or rotting odor indicates the waste disposal needs cleaning. Run cold water through the disposal for around 30 seconds.

Running ice cubes down the garbage disposal may help remove the food, and tossing in some lemon or lime slices will provide a citrusy odor that will rapidly hide the prior decay.

Drain Trap

why does my plumbing smell
A proper drain trap in your new sink or bathtub must prevent the sewer smell from entering your home. Without it, nothing can block the smell from coming into your home. A professional needs to install the drain trap.

Does the Water Smell?

Sulfates, for example, may generate odors in water. If sulfate-reducing bacteria enter the hot water heater, they produce a rotten egg odor.
If you feel the odor is coming from the water, have a professional plumber inspect your water pipes and quality.

DIY Drain Cleaning and Deodorizing

why does my plumbing smell
Please don’t wait until your drains are clogged and smelly to do something about it. Here are some pro tips for maintaining clean and free-flowing drains:

  • Pour about ½ cup of baking soda and ¼ cup of salt over the drain.
  • Then begin pouring a large bottle of white vinegar.
  • The chemical reaction should produce foam and bubbles.
  • Let everything sit for about 15 minutes.
  • Then, using just-below-boiling water, rinse everything.
  • Finally, turn on the cold water and rinse everything away.

Great if water readily goes down the drain! If not, repeat the procedure before contacting a professional plumber. This should be done every few weeks to help avoid odors and obstructions. Other suggestions include keeping hair out of the drain and avoiding chemical drain cleaners, which may cause damage to your plumbing system.

Put some ice and lemon/lime wedges in your trash disposal regularly to keep it clean and fresh. Learn more about drain cleaning and trash disposal.

Do You Smell a Sewer Odor?

Drains that stink might signal a problem with the main sewage line.

why does my plumbing smell

If the methods above don’t stop the smell, or if you’ve noticed multiple drains with sewer odors, the issue is likely to damage the sewer line. The sewer line removes the wastewater from your home and transports it to the city sewer system (or septic tank). If the sewer line becomes blocked or sustains damage from corrosion, tree roots, ground shifting, or construction, it will back sewage into your pipes and eventually into your drains.

This needs immediate action, or sewage will start to seep into the basement and cause severe damage to your foundation. Sewer line repairs or replacements require a professional plumber.

HELP specialists will utilize cameras to find the break or obstruction before making targeted repairs. In many circumstances, we can repair significant sewage lines without digging up your property using trenchless drain repair technology.

Drain Cleaning Service in Cincinnati

Professional plumbers may utilize industrial water jetters, snake augers, and pipe camera technology to locate and repair the odor source in your drain.

A professional plumber can clear the blockage at its source, allowing you to enjoy a clean drain again. HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, and Drains is the company to call for this type of detailed plumbing repair in Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, and Southern Indiana. We back our work with a 100% money-back guarantee.

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