Shower Drain Smell

shower drain smell

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The offensive odor of sewage coming out of the shower drain is sufficient to crinkle every nose and send everyone involved to find a solution quickly.

How can you feel clean right after a bath when your bathroom gives off a sewer gas smell?

There are many possible reasons why your shower drain smells so badly. Thankfully, this problem can be fixed with relative ease as soon as you identify the root cause of the smell.

Some common reasons why the smell of sewage may be coming from your shower drain include a drain line clog, dirty or dry P-trap, biofilm or mold buildup, and leaks in the drain lines located in the ceiling, walls, or beneath the floor.

Shower Drain Smell: Drain Line Clogs

A clog in the shower drain line is a common problem that can make bad odors come from it.

Dirt, oils, hair, grime, and other debris can be trapped in the drain and create a blockade for other similar debris to get past it into the drain.

Clogs take a while to form, so do not expect to observe them as they form as you may not catch a smell either.

However, over a few days or weeks, these mineral deposits, trapped hair, and soap scum may start to exude bad smells.

We advise you get a drain strainer to help against the formation of clogs. This drain strainer can collect the hair and debris that could have been washed into the drain line.

However, you will need to empty and clean the strainer regularly, otherwise, the same bad smell will be given off from all the hairs, oils, dirt, and debris caught in the drain strainer.

Fix: Clear and Clean the Shower Drain Line

If you suspect a clog in your shower drain to be the reason behind the bad odors, then you can try to clear the clog using several methods.

You can first try to feed a plumber’s drain snake into the drain line to dislodge or pull out the clog.

If you want to pull the clog out, ensure that your drain snake comes with a hooked end that is capable of grabbing onto hairs and other debris.

But if you simply want to scatter the clog, then you should get a drain snake that is fitted with an auger system to bite through and into the clog with rotational force.

On the other hand, you can scatter the clog by pouring boiling water down the drain to melt any oils that form the clog.

It is important to know that although you can get similar results with the use of chemical drain cleaners, they can cause damage to the drain line.

So, ensure to check and follow the manufacturer’s guide for directions to get the best results from your chemical cleaners.

Shower Drain Smell: Dirty or Dry P-trap

A shower drain’s P-trap can be found under the shower. This plumbing component is a U-shaped pipe section that falls below the remaining part of the drain line.

The U-shaped P-trap is meant to keep a little amount of water in the line to prevent sewer line gases from escaping through the shower drain.

This pipe can also collect dirt, grime, hair, and other debris that result in a foul smell coming from the shower drain.

However, the sewage odor from your shower drain may not be caused by a dirty P-trap alone. Even a dry P-trap, which indicates a clog in the vent line, can cause your shower drain to smell.

Plumbing vents are necessary to aerate the plumbing system to push waste and wastewater out of the home through the pipes.

If the vent is clogged, obstructed, or broken, the vacuum created can drain the P-trap and leave it dry. With this, there is nothing stopping the sewage odors from escaping through the shower drain.

Fix: Clean and Disinfect the P-trap

It is quite easy to clean and disinfect a dirty P-trap in order to keep out musty smells.

Chemical cleaners can be used to remove any grime and dirt stuck inside the P-trap, but there is an alternative solution to these harsh chemicals.

Measure about a half cup of baking soda and pour it into the drain, and then follow up with another half cup of distilled vinegar.

Use a stopper to cover the drain and allow the reaction to occur within it. This can clear any bacteria that are causing the odor and also clear any clogs in the drain line.

A dry P-trap is likely due to a clogged, obstructed, or broken ventilation line. This issue may not be addressable by most DIYers, so we recommend hiring a skilled plumber to resolve the problem.

Shower Drain Smell: Mold and Biofilm Buildup

Mold and biofilm are quite similar but distinctly different, as biofilm consists of a dynamic colony of bacterial waste.

It closely resembles grime, slime, or muck, and can be found in different colors, of which pink and orange are the most common.

This biofilm can buildup in the drain and can spread into the shower, causing unpleasant, musty smells.

It has a slimy feeling with a glue-like consistency that attaches to surfaces. Biofilm can be observed outdoors on birdbaths or river rocks.

There are many different types of biofilm which makes it quite difficult to know exactly what you’re dealing with. However, what is important is getting rid of it as soon as possible.

Fix: Scrub and Sanitize to Remove Biofilm

Biofilm can give off such bad smell to make you reconsider taking a shower. In order to remove it, you will need to break it up using a brush or similar tool to scrub the area that is affected.

Use a simple brush to wipe off as much of the biofilm as you can, and then use an antimicrobial sterilizer to spray the affected surface.

Clearing biofilm of a drain line is not as easy as removing them from shower tiles. For this, we recommend using a paint roller cover rather than a brush, as its narrow and long shape will allow it go into the drain line.

Pour an antimicrobial cleaning solution over the roller cover, and then insert and rotate it in the drain line to dislodge the biofilm.

Ensure you pull out the roller cover often and rinse in a bucket of soapy, hot water, and then reinsert into the drain line until there are no longer any signs of biofilm once you pull out the roller cover.

Leaking Pipes

Leaks in the drain lines can be very serious as to not only cause sewage smells to come out of the shower drain, but cause them to emanate from the bathroom walls.

The drain line takes water and wastewater to the main drain and away from the home.

If there is a leak in the drain line, then it is very likely that the wastewater will affect the surrounding areas, soaking the insulation and inside of the floors and walls.

If this problem is left unchecked for a long time, the leaked wastewater will do more than create bad smells – it will damage the drywall, framing, insulation, and any other material it touches.

Therefore, you need to resolve this problem as soon as possible.

And even after the leak is fixed, you may still have lingering bad smell until the insulation and other infrastructure that was affected are replaced.

Fix: Repair the Leaking Pipes

A leaking or broken drain pipe is one of the most challenging root causes of foul smells in the bathroom.

Leaks are typically found at a pipe joint or connection, but even locating this can be extremely difficult because your drain lines are typically hidden within the walls and floors.

Therefore, you may need to break open the bathroom floor or walls in order to access the drain line and identify the damaged portion.

You will also need to resolve any problems with the surrounding drywall, insulation, tiling, and other infrastructure since the leaking wastewater may cause damage, rot, and rapid growth of mold in the area.

This job is very complex and we recommend hiring a professional plumber to track the leak, repair the plumbing line, and propose the next line of action.

You may only need to worry about repairing the pipe and wall, but, depending on the extent of the water damage, you may also need to refurbish the entire bathroom in order to resolve the problem completely.

Contact a plumber or an expert in water damage restoration.

Call us at (559) 940-0890

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