Unpleasant smells in our home can make our daily lives disagreeable. Nobody wants to live with a nasty odor, so we try to locate and fix the problem quickly. This is easy when it’s a full trash can or a mildewy washing machine. However, sometimes you can locate a smell and be unsure of how to fix it.
Smelly odors coming from the shower can be a head scratcher. Is it a clog that needs to be cleared or is it something more? There are many reasons your shower could be smelly and it can take a little investigating to figure out what the problem is.
If you have been experiencing smelly odors coming from your shower and aren’t sure what the culprit is, read on. We will explore some of the common reasons a shower gets smelly, ways to fix it, and how you can prevent the odor from coming back.
What is Causing the Smelly Odor?
When you first notice that unpleasant smell in your shower, you might wonder how it gets into that pipe. After all, doesn’t the water from your shower or bath just drain out into the sewer? For the most part, that is true. Once water goes down the drain, it goes to the sewer and then on to the water treatment plant.
Blocked Drains are a Common Cause
The most likely reason you are experiencing sewer smell in your shower is a blocked drain. When debris gets caught in the drain, it traps bacteria that cause odor. The P-trap is another location where you will find this bacteria and the hydrogen sulfide gas they create can smell like sewage (hunker.com).
Check Your Vents
Another reason for a smelly shower is a blocked vent. This is especially likely to happen in the winter, when ice and snow can block and freeze vent covers. These vents let the sewer gases out of your home and when they are blocked, the gases have no place to go but back inside your bathroom. (bobvila.com)
Problem Could be in the Drain Line
If you are still experiencing an unpleasant odor coming from your shower after checking vents and clearing clogs, you could have a more substantial problem with your drain line. This is most true if you live in an older house where the pipes can be corroding and wearing out.
Unless your house has had a major renovation, the drain lines are probably as old as the house is, which can be pretty old. It’s not surprising that the drain lines may not be working properly. In older houses, the drain lines were made from cast iron or ceramic, which corrodes, unlike the PVC used today.
Other issues that can affect the drain line include:
- Shifting of soil
- Tree root intrusion
- Weakening of the pipe due to freezing (sewersurgeon.com)
How To Get Rid of the Nasty Odor
Now that you know what the most common reasons for shower odors are, you will want to fix them fast. Some problems you will be able to take care of yourself and others will need the assistance of a professional if you don’t have plumbing experience.
Clearing Clogs Takes Effort
If your odor is accompanied by a slow drain, you are probably experiencing a clog that needs to be cleared. You can purchase a drain cleaner that dissolves clogs and gets the water running cleanly again. However, chemical drain cleaners can be too harsh for older pipes. Instead, you can use a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar (bobvila.com).
Sometimes the drain cleaner is not enough and you need to bring out the plunger. Plungers clear clogs by creating a vacuum seal that moves the clog through the pipe. Make sure there are a couple of inches of water in the shower or tub to get a tight seal and pull up and down on the plunger several times to move the clog (bobvila.com).
If these methods don’t help remove the clog, you should call the plumber in. Plumbers can use a tool called a snake to clear persistent clogs that don’t respond to drain cleaners or plungers.
Fix Your Ventilation to Remove Odors
As we said earlier, you are most likely to have problems with your bathroom vents during the winter, when snow and ice can block them. Often, the vent is on the roof. Luckily, you don’t need to get up there to clear it off. Just head up to the attic, find the vent, and use a hairdryer to melt the snow and ice (hunker.com).
Sometimes, the vent itself is clogged up. You’ll notice this when water drains slowly but there isn’t any sign of a clog in the drain. A plumber will be able to use an auger to clear out the clog and get the vent pipe working properly again (sfgate.com).
Drain Line Repairs Require a Professional
Sometimes a plumbing repair needs professional service. Drain line repairs often require cutting out and replacing the corroded pipe and replacing it with a PVC replacement. Since you cannot tell where the problem is or what is wrong with the line, the plumber will use a camera to diagnose the issue. They can then make the repairs.
How To Prevent the Smell from Returning
There are some simple measures you can take to keep your bathroom plumbing in good shape and keep the smelly odors at bay:
- Get a Hair Catcher
The most likely cause of a clogged drain is hair. Hair gets tangled around itself forming the clog that has trouble passing through your pipes. The more hair that goes down the drain, the more clogged it gets. A hair catcher is a simple tool that catches your hair before it goes down the drain. Pop it on top of the drain and let it work its magic.
- Keep the Roof Clear of Debris
While it may be hard to keep snow and ice from blocking the vent pipe, keeping the roof clear of leaves and other debris will help prevent clogs from forming. When you clean your gutters, inspect the roof and clean it off if necessary. If you have a tree that drops a lot of leaves directly on your roof, get it trimmed back so there are fewer leaves.
- Have Your Drains Cleared and Inspected Regularly
If you live in an older house with original plumbing, it is worth the time to have your drains and pipes cleared out and inspected regularly. Preventive maintenance will help you catch problems before they become too big and even more expensive to fix.
The best thing you can do when you notice a smelly odor from your shower is to get it taken care of as soon as possible. Waiting to fix it can lead to an issue that is much bigger than the original problem.
Don’t Let a Smelly Odor Ruin Your Day
We get it. When you smell something unpleasant in your bathroom, you can’t help but feel bad. Whether it’s the smell, itself or the thought of all the things that could be wrong, plumbing problems can be worrisome. Remember though, it can be a simple problem that only requires a quick fix, such as a blocked vent or clogged drain.
If the smell lingers or doesn’t seem to go away, you should call a plumber who can do a deeper inspection and determine what the issue is. They have the tools and expertise to diagnose your problem and fix it so that your house is a pleasant place to spend time in again.
Contact the Sewer Surgeon if you need that awful odor removed. Covering the Southern California area.