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What Causes A Smelly Shower Drain?

Understanding The Source Of The Smell

Shower drains can be used multiple times a day and sometimes, you may notice that they start to smell. This smell may range from an unpleasant smell, usually of sulfur or mildew, to what smells like rotting grease.

Here at My Plumbing Redmond, we regularly get questions from customers and one of the most common questions we get is regarding foul-smelling shower drains. This may be caused by mold, mildew growing, hair, or accumulated grime. In some cases, the p-trap may be malfunctioning causing sewer gases to leak into the shower via the drain.

Some of the most common reasons for the problems and convenient methods to fix them are listed below.

Clogged stopper/strainer

Usually, showers have a stopper or strainer fitted over the drains to catch the hair, other debris before it flows away. This debris and grime will accumulate overtime producing an unpleasant smell. The stopper can be easily removed by hand while strainers are screwed on the pipe.

Hair, grease, and other debris will accumulate on the strainer which can be unscrewed for cleaning. An old toothbrush, sponge and some hot soapy water can be used to clean the strainer, and gloves used to handle it. The filter can be replaced after the pipe has also been cleaned.

Mildew and mold growth

Mildew and mold flourish in dark places with high humidity levels like the shower, bathroom, and drainage pipes. Mold & mildew removal solutions are available, and these should be used to clean the stopper, drain cover, the drain pipe ring, and the underside of the drain. There should be no gap while fitting the stopper, strainer, and drain cover over the drainpipe, else the mold will again grow in the gap. If the drain cover is not fitting on the drainpipe properly and there is a gap, it is because the drain cover has become warped. So the drain cover should be replaced with a new cover, or some waterproof sealant may be applied.

Many of today’s modern sealants are formulated with some anti-fungal capabilities so real the label so you’ll get the right type of sealant.

Blocked or clogged vents

Pipes have vents so that air pushed out when water passes through the pipe and has an exit path. If the pipe vents are not working properly, the suction will remove the water from the p-trap, making it dry. Usually, the vents connected to the trap and other pipes are connected to the vent stack, which is an outlet for all the air. The vents are usually clogged at the vent stack due to debris that has fallen in, birds nests, or similar reasons. Family members who know the location of the outlet of their vent stack could clean it themselves, removing anything visible from the vent mouth. In some cases, the blockage may be inside, and cleaning with a water hose may clear the vent. If even this fails, one specific pipe vent may be blocked or there may be a sewage system problem.

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