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Why Does My Drain Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

Fortunately, plumbing systems are highly reliable most of the time, but issues arise now and then. Among the most common are a leaky faucet or water heater, weak water pressure, and running toilets.

Another is the smell of rotten eggs emanating from a drain or a tap. When you notice this, it most likely is not actually rotten eggs stuck in the drain or disposal. Instead, that sulfur-like odor you’re noticing is a gas called hydrogen sulfide.

Luckily, dealing with the smell of rotten eggs from a drain is often relatively straightforward. However, it’s important first to understand the different things that can cause that smell before you take steps to get rid of it.

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What Can Cause the Smell of Rotten Eggs in My Drain?

First, some good news: even if your water smells or tastes like sulfur, it’s probably not the contaminated water itself. Far more probable is that as the water runs, it helps expel gasses trapped in pipes or drains. If you’re at all unsure, though, have your water professionally tested.
The most likely cause of a sulfur smell or other bad smell coming from a drain is stuck food, and it’s the easiest to fix. As a food that gets clogged in a drain or disposal decomposes, it emits gasses that cause unpleasant odors. So the first thing to do is check if there’s a blockage or if something is stuck to the drain wall, not completely blocking the drain but staying in place.

If that doesn’t seem to be the cause, then one of the following might be the culprit:

Your Drain Trap Is Dry or Needs Replacing

A drain has a U-shaped part called a drain trap, and it’s usually located right below the drain itself. The drain trap fills with water, which helps objects navigate their way through the trap. When the trap is working correctly, the water stays behind, and that water creates a seal that blocks gasses and air from working back up from the sewer lines and up the drain pipes and out the drain. If the drain trap wasn’t properly installed or it has become dry, that could be causing the problem.

It’s Been A While Since the Drain’s Been Used

This is one of the ways a drain trap can go dry. If you don’t use a particular drain on a regular basis, then during the intervals it isn’t being used, the water in the drain trap can evaporate. Just running water through the drain for a minute or so is probably all you need to do if this is the problem.

The Plumbing Vent Could Be Clogged

Although this is more unlikely, it shouldn’t be ruled out. Up on your roof is a vent pipe sticking out, allowing water to flow freely down the drain and sewer lines, which is why it’s essential to keep it clear. It’s possible that leaves, dirt, or even a small animal can get stuck in the plumbing vent, causing a blockage that impedes water flow and allows the gasses from the trapped organic matter to flow through plumbing lines.

Of course, it’s not exactly easy or inconvenient for many people to check their plumbing vents to see if they’re clogged, but there’s a pretty good sign you can look for right in your house. If you’re noticing the smell of rotten eggs and a gurgling sound in the drains as water flows away, there’s a good chance the plumbing vent is blocked.

How Can I Clean My Drains and Remove Bad Odors?

You can do several things to address the issue of a drain smelling like rotten eggs.

  • Be careful about what goes into drains in the first place. Hair, grease, coffee grounds, and soap scum are examples of substances that easily cause clogs. Use mesh traps on open drains, and bathe pets outside when the weather permits. If you have to put easily clogged items into a drain, run hot water afterward every time.
  • For stuck food, if running the water or disposal doesn’t clear things up, then one thing you can try is boiling several cups of water. As the water is close to boiling, pour a couple of teaspoons of baking soda into the drain, followed by a couple of teaspoons of vinegar. Then carefully pour the scalding-hot water down the drain. Doing this will create a foamy mixture that eats away at the clogged substances and removes the foul odors. You can finish up by putting some lemon wedges in and then running the disposal for a fresh, lemony scent.
    If the problem is a dry or improperly installed drain trap, try running the water first. Call a plumber if that doesn’t do the trick.
  • Clean and flush your lines on a regular basis. Enzyme cleaners work very well, and cleaning and flushing help prevent clogs from occurring in the first place.
  • Use a chemical drain cleaner to go after nasty clogs. Before doing so, make sure the product is compatible with your system, as these products are highly caustic.
  • Use a plumbing snake to remove clogs.
  • Call a professional plumber. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to call a qualified pro who has the know-how and the tools for the job. This process can also save you a lot of hassle.

For Professional Attention, Call Four Seasons Plumbing

When it’s time to call a pro to address a foul odor or other issues with a drain or other aspects of your plumbing, you’ll find that Four Seasons Plumbing is a trusted, experienced industry leader in the Asheville area.

At Four Seasons Plumbing, we have the credentials, the tools, and the training to get the job done right. Our family-owned and operated business promise honest, upfront pricing, professionalism and courtesy from every technician, and quality and reliability you can count on for any issue.

Whether your issue is a clogged drain in Fletcher, NC; the need for a drain cleaning in Black Mountain, NC; or any other plumbing concern in the Asheville, NC region, Four Seasons Plumbing is up to the task.

Need to get a quote or schedule a service? Contact us today!

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Max Rose - Owner of Four Seasons Plumbing

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Max Rose

Max Rose is the owner of Four Seasons Plumbing, a plumbing company in Asheville, North Carolina.