If you have noticed a stinky smell coming from your shower drain, there could be a few reasons it exists. A clogged drain, a dirty or dry P Trap, biofilm buildup or leaky pipes are the main culprits of the smell you may be experiencing. Below, we have broken down a description of each odor causing issue and how to make the corresponding repair. Let’s get started.
As can be expected, a clogged drain is the most common cause for a foul smell coming out of your shower drain. Drain clogs can be cause by a buildup of soap scum, hair, mineral deposits, dirt, sand, and small objects. Usually, a combination of a few of these clog-makers is at fault. For example, soap scum may bind with hair, and create a hardened material that obstructs the water drain flow. Over time and repeated additions of more hair and soap scum, you may begin to experience a bad small and poor drainage.
How to Fix It:
You can unclog a drain many ways. You can pull any visible items lodged in the drain out by hand. If you cannot see anything stuck in the drain, you can use a plunger to loosen any material up and bring it to the surface of the drain to be removed manually. You can also use a drain snake. The drain snake normally has bristles on it, which will help to dislodge trapped hair. Your next option is to pour boiling water down the drain. Boiling hot water will melt any soap scum that may contain hair, dirt, sand or minerals, and flush them out of the drain. Lastly, if you are still having trouble unclogging your drain, you can use a drain declogging chemical. Chemical declogging agents should only be used as a last resort, and used sparingly, as excess use can cause corrosion on your plumbing and create additional trouble down the line.
Dirty or Dry P Trap
A P Trap is the “U” shaped section of pipe located below your shower drain. You can also find P Trap pipes under your kitchen and bathroom sinks. The job of the P Trap is to hold enough water in the bottom of the “U” to prevent sewer gasses from coming up the pipes and into your home. If your shower is not often used (such as a guest bathroom or in a vacation house), the water in the P Trap may dry up, allowing the sewer gasses up the shower drain pipes, creating a rotten egg smell in your home. Similarly, if the P Trap become dirty due to buildup of soap scum and other obstructive material, the water seal may not be as strong as it should, leaving an air gap, again allowing sewer gasses to escape into your home.
How to Fix It:
If your P Trap is dry, you can simply run the shower for a few minutes to allow water to flow through the pipes. When the water is turned off, and the pressure from the water flow subsides, the “U” of the P Trap will retain the water it requires to create a seal. If your P Trap is dirty, you can create a mixture of half of a cup of baking soda and half of a cup of white vinegar. Pour this mixture into your shower drain and cover the drain with a drain stopper or plate. Allow the mixture to sit in the pipes for approximately ten minutes, then run your shower water to allow fresh water to settle into the P Trap. As previously mentioned, only use cleaning chemicals in your plumbing when absolutely necessary, as excessive use can cause damage to your plumbing and can expedite corrosion.
Biofilm is also known as “Pink Mold.” Biofilm is a buildup of bacteria that often appears pink or orange in color, and is slimy to the touch. You can think of biofilm buildup as similar to plaque on your teeth between brushings. Biofilm can be dangerous to your health, resulting in E-Coli, Salmonella and MRSA. It can also infect open wounds, cause urinary tract infections, and respiratory problems for people that have a compromised immune system.
How to Fix It:
Biofilm cleaning can be a messy job. To start, remove the drain cover from your shower drain. Next, use a brush to scrape the biofilm off of the surfaces of your drain pipes, and wipe the area clean. Repeat this process until the pink slimy film is no longer visible. Next, use an antimicrobial chemical to disinfect the area that had a biofilm buildup present. Lastly, run your shower to rinse remaining chemicals and debris out of your plumbing. You will have to repeat this process on a weekly basis to prevent recurring biofilm buildup.
The last common cause of a foul-smelling shower drain is leaking pipes. Leaky pipes can allow sewer gasses to escape into your home, creating a rotten egg smell. Leaking pipes can develop over time due to corrosion, loosening plumbing fittings or excessive use of clog removing chemicals.
How to Fix It:
Repairing leaking shower drain pipes is often best left to the professionals. Unlike sinks and toilets, shower plumbing is located underneath the tub, within the bathroom walls, or under the bathroom floor, making the pipes difficult to access to easy repair and maintenance. Our professional team at Faulstick is available year-round to service all of your home plumbing systems.
If you are experiencing shower drain issues and would like our assistance on the repair and maintenance, call Graydon Faulstick Plumbing at 570-992-0447 today to schedule an appointment.