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Odors That Come Out of Your Drain

Is the smell of rotten eggs, moldy food, or sewage emitting from your drains? Such foul odors are impossible to ignore. If you’re tired of keeping your nose plugged, consider these possible reasons behind the stench and how to remedy it.


  • Dry P trap: The bend in the plumbing beneath a sink, shower, tub, or toilet holds water to create a barrier between your home and the sewer system. If no liquid is sitting in this P trap, sewer gases can leak through. To prevent this, make sure you use all the plumbing fixtures in your home at least once every couple of months.
  • Clogged vent pipe: Every plumbing system has a vent pipe to exhaust sewer gases to the outside. Snow, animal nests, and other obstructions can block the vent opening, allowing fumes to backtrack into your home. Locate the vent pipe, inspect it, and unclog it if necessary.
  • Problem with the sewer line: If a foul odor seems to be coming out of, not just one drain but of all your drains, this may indicate a possible break in the main sewer line. This is especially likely if you also notice gurgling sounds coming from your sinks and toilets. Call a licensed plumber right away to take a look.
  • Broken seal around the toilet base: If the odor is coming from the bathroom, check to see if the toilet is securely attached to the floor. If the seal is broken, plumbing odors could be seeping through. To fix the problem, repair or replace the seal.
  • Contaminated water: It’s possible that the unpleasant odor is coming from your water supply rather than the sewer system. High levels of bacteria in the water could be caused by keeping your water heater lower than 120 degrees. Disinfect the water heating tank with hydrogen peroxide and raise the temperature from now on to remedy the problem.
  • Garbage disposal: Over time, grease and food particles build up in the garbage disposal. As they rot, they become a breeding ground for bacteria, which could be causing the plumbing odors you detect. Pour one-half cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of vinegar to cut through the bacteria. Let it foam for a few minutes, and then flush out the pipes with hot water.
  • Bacteria growth: Even non-kitchen sinks can accumulate a greasy, soap-scum buildup. Flush the drains using the baking soda/vinegar approach. Then, combat high humidity that causes bacteria in the plumbing to grow even faster by running a dehumidifier in the summer.

Sewer gases and contaminated water aren’t just repulsive—they can also be dangerous. Don’t expose your family to harmful fumes or bacteria. If you attempt the DIY tips above to no avail, contact Albert Nahman Services in Berkeley, CA by calling (510) 876-9725 . Our team of professional plumbers can inspect your drains and sewer line, diagnose the source of the odor, and present a lasting, cost-effective solution.

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