When it comes to your home, few things are more frustrating than a blocked or smelly drain. Causing a horrible whiff – often throughout the entire house – the problem is one which needs to be dealt with quickly and effectively.

But how do you identify what it is that’s caused the blockage or a smelly sink? As in doing this you can get to the root of the issue and get to work eradicating it.

While your pipes may appear fine from the outside, the drain smells may be internal and can quickly spiral out of control and result in a smelly kitchen sink if it’s left. For peace of mind, keep an eye on bathroom and kitchen drains as often as possible – and if you smell something unusual, think about taking action.

What Causes Smelly Drains Inside the House?

Smelly drains inside the house? The most commonly-blocked drains are those in the kitchen and bathroom and the cause of the smell could be due to any number of factors. If you’ve asked yourself: ‘why do my drains smell?’, it could be a result of any of the following:

A Blocked or Faulty Wastepipe – A wastepipe that’s blocked or simply isn’t doing its job properly is often the cause of a smelly sink drain – but don’t panic; it may not be so hard to rectify as you first thought.

Blockages of this kind generally come about as a result of a build-up of bacteria from organic waste – food, cooking fat, hair or grease – and all you’d need to do in this instance is fill the sink with hot water and add some bleach. Give the solution time to drain through the pipes and see if the problem persists. If it does, it’s likely that the blockage is, of course, a little more serious – and this is when you might need to call in the professionals.

If you’re not keen on using bleach because you’re worried about its environmental impact, try the baking soda and white wine vinegar trick! The good thing about this is you’ll probably already have both these ingredients in your kitchen cupboard or larder. All you need to do is pour some boiling hot water down your drain, before adding some baking soda into the plug hole, and pouring in some white wine vinegar. You’ll then need to add some more hot water on top and wait!

A Lack of a Soil Vent Pipe (SVP) – A foul smell coming from your kitchen drains isn’t always a result of congealed food and grease; sometimes it’s simply because you’re lacking a soil vent pipe – also known as an SVP. It’s basically a vent that directs strong odours up and away from the home – and although it’s quite rare that your house won’t have one of these, some homes are still without them nonetheless.

Improper Use of Your Appliances – What else can be causing a smelly sink or smelly kitchen? It could simply be down to the appliances in your house which drain water. Bad odours can occur when you don’t look after these appliances and a natural build-up of lime scale or even fluff from clothes occurs. This kind of blockage can generally be attributed to your washing machine, since it’s more likely that fluff and clothing threads can get into the wastewater pipes from here.

What about your dishwasher, too? Don’t be tempted to allow scraps of food to simply sit in the appliance itself. Make an effort to scrape out any food debris as regularly as possible, as any bits and pieces left to sit in the dishwasher can only block the wastewater pipes later down the line.

Smelly Drains: Inside the House

If you have bad smells coming from your drain – whether from your toilet, shower or sink – there are a few things you can do.

Avoid Putting Waste Down the Drain – Doing so is a sure-fire way to clog your drains

Routinely Clean and Maintain the Pipes – Remove the U-bend pipe once a month, cleaning it thoroughly before reassembling

Try a Home Remedy – Prepare a mixture of half a litre of warm water, 200ml white vinegar and 100g of sodium bicarbonate, before pouring it down the drain and leaving it for 30 minutes. Then simply pour some more hot water down the drain. This will neutralise bad smells and clean the pipes too

If that doesn’t work, baking yeast dissolved in water can be poured down the smelly drain. It is important to do this at night, though, and make sure you don’t turn on the taps until the following day.

Try Something Stronger – Still not doing the job? Sodium hydroxide diluted in water is also recommended to wash away residue and combat bad smells in the pipes. Handle this product with care, though – it’s a toxic ingredient. Do also check in advance that the pipe material is resistant to a chemical like this.

Washing Machine Remedy

So, how do you get rid of bad smells coming from your washing machine? It’s easier than you think! Here’s what you can try:

Run a Small Load of Hot Water with No Clothes – Pour a cup of half baking soda and half distilled white vinegar into the load – and if this seems to have an effect but the smell lingers, try this method again, using bleach in place of the vinegar and baking soda. Once the load’s finished, leave the door open and allow the washer to dry completely.

Find Your Washer’s Floor Drain – Looking for a washing machine cure? The washer’s floor drain is generally a circular grate which can be located in close proximity of the machine. Pour around a gallon of water down the drain, which works to restore water to evaporated drain traps. This will then lead to the release of sewer gas. No just pour about four ounces of mineral oil into the drain and repeat the process if the water in the trap begins to evaporate once more.

Locate Your Sewer Vent Pipe – A grated pipe usually located on the roof of your home above your bathroom, the sewer vent pipe should be examined before you continue anything else. Now begin to manually remove any leaves, dirt or debris clogging the pipe.

Smelly Drains: Outside the House

If you’re dealing with smelly drains outside the house, there are plenty of things you can do. Whether it’s a smelly bathroom drain or a smell from the shower drain specifically, we have all the tips when it comes to how to clean smelly drains in general.

Does the blocked area fall within the boundaries of your property? Then it’s your responsibility to sort the issue out, even if it’s outside the home. A professional drainage services team can carry out CCTV inspection, as well as high-powered water jetting, if you find that it’s a blockage you simply can’t deal with yourself.

Does the blockage exist in a public sewer which falls outside anyone’s property on the street you live on? You’ll need to involve your local authority – i.e. the water board which serves the area – to ensure the issue of smelly drains is dealt with.

Smelly Drains: Preventative Methods

We’ve looked at how you might solve the issue of smelly drains once the problem’s already set in, but how do you prevent stinky drains in the first place? Here are a few top tips to bear in mind going forwards:

Ensure Kids Steer Well Clear – As we mentioned earlier, small toys and other bits and pieces can present a problem should they find their way down the toilet. Educate kids – especially those who are old enough – that they shouldn’t put anything down the drain, making them aware that you’ll be cross should they do so. Little hands + household appliances = a disaster waiting to happen.

Don’t Put Food Down Your Kitchen Sink – Food, grease and human hair are the biggest causes of drain blockages and smelly drains.  Try to scoop out as much food and debris as possible, placing it in the bin, rather than flushing it down your sink.

Keep Up a Frequent Cleaning Routine – Pouring a little bleach down your toilet and kitchen sinks as and when required should allow you to keep on top of things maintenance-wise. It’s not a bad idea to keep your drains clean and clear anyway; it’ll certainly help keep germs at bay and it’s a good habit to get into.

When to Call in the Professionals

So, you’ve tried all the remedies featured here and still had no joy clearing your smelly or blocked drain.

It’s now that you’re probably going to have to admit defeat and call in the professionals, who’ll get the job done in no time and leave you feeling much less stressed.

An expert drainage services team will always bring the right tools for the job, dealing with the issue safely and with minimum disruption to your home.

While smelly drains can be caused by a build-up of food or grease in the pipes, it could also be that a foreign object – a hair accessory or a small toy, for example – has somehow made its way into the system after being flushed down the toilet.

Lastly, your kitchen sink smells or drain smell from the shower drain could be a result of a structural defect, or a breakage caused by subsidence, corrosion or even tree roots. It’s important that you get to the bottom of the issue as quickly as possible, though, to minimise stress and costs and to ensure you can eradicate that bad smell in the bathroom, or those horrible washing machine waste pipe smells.

Enjoyed this guide? Keep an eye out for more of the same here on the site.

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