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The drainage system of a building is designed so that all types of odours, including wastewater and sewage, are kept away from places such as the kitchen and bathroom. Ideally, with a well-designed drainage system, you don’t need to worry about odour or awful smell.

However, if you perceive bad smell in your bathroom or kitchen, it means that something is wrong somewhere. You need to address the problem as quickly as possible because something is faulty. Here are the major causes of smelly drains and what you can do to remedy the situation.

What are the causes of smelly drains?

A smelly drain is a sign that something is wrong somewhere with your plumbing installation. The common causes of smelly drains are:

  • Tree Roots

Tree roots are the most common cause of stinky drains. Since they are always seeking moisture, tree roots naturally grow toward drains. Immediately they find a water source, they continue to grow and expand, which can block drain pipes.

One of the ways you can detect this is when you hear a gurgling noise when you use the tap or flush the toilet. The way out of this is to call a professional who will investigate the problem. At Hero Plumbing, we can help you remove tree roots professionally without causing damage to the trees around or your pipes.

  • Old Pipes

This is another common cause of stinky drains, especially in houses built before the ‘80s using clay-cement pipes. The clay-cement pipes are so prone to cracking that any movement underground can cause damage, leading to blocking of the pipes and, subsequently, smelly drains.

  • Mould

If you perceive a musty smell around your bathroom or kitchen, the root cause of the smell is likely to be mould. mould is attracted to wet areas, and this makes them familiar visitors to drains. Moulds release tiny puffs of gas with an awful and harmful smell. This smell has been proven to be responsible for headaches and dizziness in some people.

  • Sewer Gas Trap Issue

In every plumbing system, there is a P-trap. In every bathroom, there is a U-shaped pipe, with one end connected to the septic tank and the other runs up to the roof, and this serves as an exit for the septic smells to leave the house and give room for fresh air to enter.

The essence of the bathroom P-trap is to guard the house against sewer gasses by collecting the water after every toilet flush or tap use. The water serves as a trap and prevents the gas from escaping into the building causing smelly drains.

Similarly, in kitchens, the P-trap is used to trap food and other kitchen wastes passed down from the sink, stopping them from causing blockage in the plumbing system. This problem is common in taps that are not frequently used.

  • Food and Organic Materials

Food and other organic materials can get stuck in your house pipes without you noticing. The materials soon start decomposing, attracting bacteria, and causing stinky drains.

  • Drain Flies

Drain flies are also known as sink flies. They are very tiny, but can cause significant disturbances. They are drawn to things that are decaying, especially organic matter and stagnant water. They usually lay their eggs in drains and sewage pipes.

The bad thing about them is that they multiply very fast and can cause drain smell if they aggregate in large numbers.

How do you clean your smelly drains?

We all hate that rancid and bad smell in blocked pipes and drains caused by food and other organic materials that stagnate and rot, releasing bad smell. So, what can you do to get rid of such smells, and what can you do to prevent them in the future?

Prevention, they say, is better than cure. Therefore, regular maintenance of all your drains from bath, toilet, kitchen sink, and waste disposal units will help stop the stench that comes out of drains.

A smelly drain is an indication of either one of the following two issues. The first is a build-up of organic matter in the pipe directly attached to a particular drain. For instance, soap and hair scum in the floor waste of the shower drain. This build-up is not enough to cause a blocked drain, but can lead to a blockage in the future. This is known as a local clog because it impacts just one drain.

The second problem that may be responsible for smelly drains is a blocked sewer main. If this is the cause, you will notice a bad smell from almost all the drains around the home.

Identifying whether the problem is from the local clog or blockage of the sewer main is vital and the first step you should take when trying to get rid of the smell. Once you find the root cause of the smell, it will be easy to determine the type of solution to apply.

Getting rid of smelly drains caused by clogs

If the problem is from just one drain, for instance, if it’s just your shower drain that smells like sewer gas or rotten egg, the gunk near the drain opening is most likely the cause. If it is in the shower, it may be due to a soap and hair scum build-up.

It is also very likely to be caused by food scraps that are decaying and trapped in the S-bend in the kitchen. To fix this issue, follow the steps below.

In the shower

You can get rid of smelly drains in the shower by cleaning out any build-up that might have accumulated. If there is gunk sitting close to where your drain opening is, put on some gloves and remove whatever you can reach with a wire coat hanger or even just fingers themselves if necessary.

An excellent way to get further down the pipes without having too much trouble going around them would be to use an old toothbrush as it has enough force behind its bristles. Brushing along pipe walls will dislodge nearly everything that is stuck within those tight spaces.

Immediately you have removed the clog, you can do the following to properly clean the pipes:

  • Boil water and let it cool down slightly so that it doesn’t damage the pipe and then pour into the drain.
  • Pour a cup of white vinegar down the drain, followed immediately by half a cup of bicarb soap.
  • Wait for two hours and pour another kettle of boiling water.
  • Repeat this step a few times and if the smell exists, get a professional plumber. At Hero Plumbing, we can help you get rid of your smelly drain quickly and faster while guaranteeing the safety of your pipes.

In the kitchen

You can use a plunger or the same homemade solution of vinegar, hot water, and bicarb described above to solve a smelly sink drain in your kitchen. If it doesn’t work, you will have to remove the S-trap so that you can remove water sediment you find with your hand. Follow the steps below:

  • Get a bucket and place it under the pipe. Wear gloves, and get old towels on hand to wipe out any excess water.
  • Use a wrench to unscrew the slip joint.
  • Once you remove the trap, use a cleaning brush or rag tied around the end of a coat hanger to remove debris off the pipe. Take the pipe to another sink and rinse it out.
  • Once clean, assemble the S-bend and use a wrench to secure the slip joint in place.

Getting rid of smelly drain caused by blocked sewer main

If you are experiencing a foul smell coming from multiple drains throughout your home, it could be due to sewer gas. This type of odour comes back up from pipes and can cause health problems if not dealt with immediately. Call a professional plumber as quickly as possible.

In addition to the foul smell, sewer gas is hazardous to your health. A large quantity of sewer gas in your home can lead to nausea, headache, weakness, vomiting, and other health complications. Also, a blocked sewer line is a ticking time bomb; it cannot be fixed by using vinegar or baking soda. Trying to solve the problem by yourself will only cause it to linger.

If it is not dealt with immediately, your sewer pipe can become blocked entirely. With all your drains connected to the sewer line, if the sewer pipe becomes blocked, the only way for the wastewater to go is to back up your pipes and out of the drain inside your house; a phenomenon known as sewage backup. It can cause severe health hazards.

Getting your sewer unblocked on time not only protects your home from damage but ensures the safety of your family and helps you get rid of unpleasant smells.

Hire a plumbing expert for your drain problems

When you choose a highly skilled and reputable company that provides its clients with prompt plumbing services, they can fix any issue you may have in no time.

Drain clearing companies are specially trained in clearing blocked drains as well as fixing broken ones because they are equipped with top-of-the-line equipment like advanced camera technology which can locate any blockages quicker than ever before.

You want long term solutions instead of on just temporary fixes from novice plumbers who might do more damage or even make them worse if they don’t know what they’re doing. Hire an expert today!


Our customers

Christopher Chow

I called Hero Plumbing to unblock a shower drain and was unable to get a quote over the phone, but Sam the owner was here same day. After his first try, he made quick work of the blockage. I opted to also get the acid cleaner stuff poured down. Sam had run out, but made a trip to go pick some up to finish the job. If you opt for this treatment make sure you can easily air the bathroom as it’s extremely strong and produces a lot of fumes. Great Service and Honest Pricing.

Sarah Lincon

Hero Plumbing has been excellent since there first phone call.
I spoke to a gentlemen names Sam which he organised a technician to come and replace our hot water heater.
The technician was excellent called me 30mins before arrival explained the whole job to me and gave me an upfront price.
Excellent work Hero team.
We are a Hero member now and always look forward to working with them.

Jared Evans

We've used Hero Plumbing previously. Both times reliable and flexible with changing times (helpful during covid ISO periods!)
Hayden was on time and explained the issue clearly, fixed it,then also did some extra checks on water pressure and taps to ensure there were no underlying issues.
Would recommend their services.

Denzi K

Hero Plumbing has been our go to plumber for years.

They replaced our hot water system with excellent workmanship, professionalism and in a timely manner - as always!

Hayden Davidson

Brilliant service from the first phone call to Hero Plumbing as Sam the manager booked us in very efficiently. I received a confirmation  email, a phone call on approach and all went smoothly & work conducted was beautiful . The team did a great job even dig up on our sewer and cut concrete & repaired the issue and our sewer is running like a dream.
Thanks for your great efforts guys!


Victoria Barmina

I knew Sam when he was working alone. And from the first time I was pleasantly surprised by his work. A little later I found out that he has his own business. I am very happy about that. And I am very glad for myself that I have such a company that I can always rely on.

Thank you for your work. People need you very much.

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