5 Plumbing Odors to Look Out For

Have you ever turned your bathroom sink on only to realize a strange odor is emanating from the faucet? What about when the toilet flushes, or when water (and waste) are moving through your pipes? Even when you keep your home clean, plumbing can still release strange odors. If your pipes are releasing a not-so-great smelling gas, there may be a larger issue at hand. Some of the plumbing odors one might experience are the smell of waste, sulfur, gasoline, rotten eggs, or sewage gas. For an experienced plumber, these issues are pretty simple to fix, but for a homeowner with no experience, these plumbing issues might be difficult to solve. We put a list together of 5 plumbing odors to look out for so you can know when to call in a professional.


1. Sewer odor

Sewer odor has a distinct and unmistakable odor. Sulfides, methane, and ammonia combine with other compounds to produce the smell, which is reminiscent of rotten eggs. Common sources of sewer odor include:

  • Leaks in pipes and plumbing fixtures
  • Cracked pipes
  • Clogged drains
  • Dry plumbing systems (such as a guest bathroom sink that is rarely used)

Sewer gas can be a tricky odor to get rid of. Masking it with air fresheners and candles won’t do much good in the long run, so it’s important to attack it at the source. In 8 Ways to Get Rid of Sewer Gas Smell, you’ll find a checklist of what you can do to banish sewer gas smell from your home.


2. Garbage Disposal odor

For those of you who don’t own a garbage disposal, you won’t have to worry about this one. But for many of us it is common to occasionally smell a funky stench in and around the kitchen sink. A garbage disposal is used to minimize food waste by breaking it down and turning it into compost. When you think about it, you are constantly putting food down the disposal in order for it to be broken down. Over time, the organic material may begin to build up, which will cause an odor. Here are a few suggestions on how to get rid of the garbage disposal smell:


Clean and flush the drain

Begin by cleaning the areas around the drain. You can use a long-handled sponge or brush to really scrub away at the areas you can reach. We suggest using warm, soapy water.

Next, flush the drain with baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water. This concoction will help to break down the matter that is stuck to the inside of the pipes and drain. After pouring the baking soda (first) and heated vinegar (second) down the drain, plug it for several minutes in order to let the chemicals react. This will form a foam. After leaving the drain plugged for several minutes, unplug it and pour the boiling water slowly down the drain. This should get rid of all loose matter.


Use ice and salt

Another way to get rid of garbage disposal matter is by using ice and salt. Pour two cups of ice cubes into the drain and turn the disposal on. Once on, pour one cup of Kosher salt into the drain, allowing the disposal to grind up the ice and salt together. Turn on the faucet to let cold water mix and flush out the ice and salt.


Mask odors with citrus

Citrus peels are another easy way to get rid of garbage disposal smells. Feel free to use any sort of citrus, such as lime, lemon, or orange. Toss the peels down the sink and let the grinder do its thing. This should get rid of any nasty smell!

As you can see, an odor coming from your garbage disposal usually means there is a build-up of matter down there. Without properly flushing this matter out every so often, you could potentially be facing larger issues down the line. We recommend making it a habit to clean your disposal weekly as part of your household chores. For further prevention, ensure you know which foods do (and don’t) belong in the disposal.


3. Dry P-trap odor

P-traps are designed to block odors from releasing elsewhere, such as up through your drain. It is the “U” shaped bend in the piping system typically located under a sink. It holds water, which stops odors from passing through. When the sink is not being used, water remains in that “U”, therefore trapping any sewer odors before they can be released up through the drain. If a sink hasn’t been used in a bit, the P-Trap will dry out, which unfortunately means there is no protection from bad odors. Remember to run your sink (even just for a few seconds) a day in order to prevent this.


4. Damaged seal odor

If the plumbing odor in your home appears to be coming from the toilet, you may be dealing with a damaged seal. A seal is used to bond the bottom of the toilet to the floor of your bathroom, and if the seal is loose, broken, or not installed properly, you could be facing a pretty stinky problem. This can be fixed with either an epoxy-filler or a repair putty, but we suggest having an experienced plumber come to fix the seal.


Pipe blockage or clog odor

If there is any sort of pipe blockage or clog in your plumbing, chances are it will release a foul smell when water passes through. Blockages can happen when things such as hair, feminine products, food, or large amounts of toilet paper are put down the drain. The more products that remain stuck, the bigger the blockage will be, until the entire pipe is clogged. As the products begin to decompose, an odor will be released when you use the sink or flush the toilet. The best way to handle a clogged pipe is to call a professional in order to have it unclogged correctly.


Plumbing odor problems? Call Chas Roberts

There are several reasons why you may be experiencing plumbing odors throughout your home. Our professionals can take care of the smells, no matter what their source is. Contact us here at Chas Roberts for any plumbing questions and inquiries.