You all know that smell? The one which nearly makes you throw up your breakfast when you get in the shower or brush your teeth.
Because of the problem I had last week, we’re talking about smelly drains.
Before we get to the fixes it is best to understand what causes drains to smell in the first place.
The main causes are:
Build up of hair and soap
High school biology taught us that all kinds of yeast and bacteria love growing in warm wet climates… Just like your drainage system! Combine that with some hair and soap scum to grow on and you have the finest environment for a new life form.
Dry P trap
The P trap is a piece of plumbing pipe work that is installed to create a barrier of water between your drain hole and the sewer system. If unused for a period of time the P Trap can dry out and allow the smell to come back through. If you haven’t used your drain for a while, run some water through it and ventilate the room.
Blocked Stink Pipe (stench pipe)
If you look up at your roof line near your toilet and or bathroom you will notice a piece of pipe sticking up in the air. This is known as the Stink Pipe. It is essentially a pressure release for the sewer system which allows it to ventilate to the atmosphere. It is high up above your roof so the smell that is emitted has a chance to be blown away without you or your neighbours smelling it. Birds love to nest in these pipes, this causes back pressure in your system and can force smelly air through your P Trap.
To remove Hair and Soap scum, my favourite is Caustic Soda (Sodium Hydroxide). It is extremely alkaline (opposite to acid) and if mishandled can leave you with a burn just as bad as acid.
This can be bought from any hardware store or supermarket under various brand names. Simply mix this as per the directions, usually a tablespoon in a litre of water, and pour down each of the offending drains. Leave soak for half an hour and flush thoroughly.
Another popular treatment is using Enzymes such as Actizyme. These are added to your drain in pellet form and slowly break down any blockages, slime, scum, or other nasties in your drainage system. The beauty of these is that they are natural and will not affect septic systems. These are more of a maintenance item as they take a longer period of time to work.
One that I’ve never seen is Bicarbonate of soda sprinkled down the drain, followed by a healthy splash of vinegar. Get ready for a lot of foam to come out of your plug hole!
When you’ve tried all the above and it still smells like something died in there, it wouldn’t hurt to call a plumber. You may have a blockage or a poorly designed system.