Cleaning a Foul-Smelling Drain

22 Jan. 21

All You Need to Know About Cleaning a Foul-Smelling Drain

Picture this: you enter your home, and you immediately smell a noxious odour that you just can’t place. The garbage cans are empty; your dog did not have an “accident,” and, to your knowledge, you don’t have a rodent infestation. You approach your sink, and for some reason, the smell gets stronger and even more unbearable. You finally isolate the source to be coming from your drain!

If you have no plumbing experience, it’s best to leave it to an experienced plumber near you. However, it can’t hurt to investigate a little more and pinpoint the cause of the noxious odours. Here are three possible causes of a foul-smelling drain, followed by simple fixes that you can do to get rid of the foul odours temporarily:

– Empty P-Traps

Your plumbing systems don’t just bring clean water in and keep dirty water out; they also keep the noxious fumes in your sewers or septic tank from backing up and circulating in your home. Plumbers avoid this issue by installing a p-trap under your sink.

The p-trap, a j-shaped fixture outfitted between the pipe coming from the drain and the one leading to the main sewer line, always retains some water to prevent noxious sewer gases from rising. If your sink or bathtub is rarely used, then the p-trap can dry up—which means nothing stops the sewer gases from entering your home anymore.

Fixing this issue can be as simple as running water and into the sink or tub for at least two minutes and letting it fill the p-trap. To avoid this from becoming an issue, make it a point to use that sink or tub a few times each week to prevent the p-trap from drying up. It’s also a good idea to check for any leaks in the p-trap for good measure.

– Accumulated Gunk and Bacteria

Over time, food, grease, hair, and other gunk can accumulate in your pipes. In the worst-case scenario, these particles will attract bacteria, which will lead to the gradual breakdown of these particles, thus resulting in foul odours.

The gunk and bacteria can be neutralized by running home-made cleaning solutions, like a vinegar and baking soda mixture. If you have a disposal outfitted, run it with water for at least 20 seconds after you dispose of food down the sink. This will help in preventing gunk accumulation and should also help prevent foul odours.

– Clogged Pipes

Ideally, your pipes should always be free-flowing. When a clog occurs, water can start to pool in the sink. In particularly extreme cases, blackwater might even rise, which results in noxious fumes entering your home as well.

Clogged pipes can be remedied through homemade solutions, such as plungers or a drain snake. Some people also find success in using chemicals like liquid lye. When all else fails, contact your emergency plumber and let them handle the clogs professionally!


Nobody expects having a stinky drain. However, they do occasionally happen, making it crucial for homeowners to know how to check for them. More importantly, it’s best to adopt habits that prevent them from happening in the first place! When all else fails, contact your emergency plumber to lend you a hand.

Are you looking for a plumbing service to help handle your drainage issues? 24 Hour Plumbing and Heating responds to plumbing emergencies in Red Deer and other areas in Alberta. Contact us today to book an appointment!