Why Does My Shower Drain Smell?

What’s that stench coming from your shower drain? Unfortunately, drains can begin to smell for many reasons. Mold or mildew could be growing underneath the drain cover, or your p-trap may be malfunctioning, which allows sewer gas to come up through your pipes. Or, the simplest reason is that there is a hair ball or some grime stuck in the strainer.

Usually these problems are pretty easy to fix. If your drain smells like mildew or sulfur, you should be able to remedy the situation with little problem. If you run into some roadblocks, it’s recommended you call a professional plumber.

Clogged Strainer or Stopper

Most showers have a stopper or strainer built either over or into the drains. These fixtures are in place to catch soap scum, hair and other debris before it can get down the drain and cause more blockages. All that gunk and grime that’s being caught by your strainer or stopper has to go somewhere, though. That nasty smell you’re detecting is likely due to old, accumulated debris and shower runoff that the stopper or strainer has intercepted.

You can remove your stopper by hand. Strainers can be removed with a Phillips screwdriver.  You’ll see all the hair and debris as soon as you pull out the strainer. Wear gloves and use hot, soapy water, a bristle brush or old toothbrush, and a sponge to clean the strainer. Take this time to clean out any scum that has been left behind on the drainpipe.

Mold or Mildew Growth

Mold and mildew thrive in wet, dark places. When you take out the strainer/stopper, make sure it is seated correctly. Then, ensure the drain cover itself is sealed properly. If there are any spaces, mold or mildew will grow here.

Remove the drain cover and stopper and clean both with a mold and mildew removal spray you can buy at the store. Be sure to clean the underside and ring that’s around the drain, too. When done, make sure the cover sits over the drain snugly. If you can’t, this means it has been warped and you will need to replace it.

Dry P-Trap

This is the curving part of your drain pipe that connects a particular fixture’s drain to the rest of the drainage system. It’s so-named because it curves in a distinctive “p” or “u” shape, designed to catch and hold some of the water that drains throughout them. This water serves to block sewer gases that could otherwise get up through your pipes where you would smell a very foul odor.

Do you smell sewer gases or rotten eggs? Your p-trap is likely to blame and may be failing. Take off the strainer and shine a flashlight inside the drain. If you don’t notice any water, something may be wrong with the trap. Pour a couple of cups of water down the drain, waiting an hour while it sits.

Clogged or Blocked Vents

If the water keeps disappearing, your shower’s vents are likely blocked. Pipe venting gives the air a place to go, but without it, suction inside the pipes may be siphoning water out of your trap. Usually, vents connect to the trap and then to an outlet known as a “vent stack.” Most vent clogs happen in this stack, usually in the form of a bird’s at the entrance, or debris that has fallen into the vent.

If you can reach your vent stack’s outlet safely, you may clear it yourself. Remove any debris you see at the mouth of the vent. If there’s nothing there, you’ll have to move further inside. Run a hose down the stack’s outlet and turn it on. The debris may come loose from the pressure of the water.

If you have tried all of these solutions to no avail, call a plumber.

Contact Tidal Plumbing NYC

If your shower drain smells and you’ve tried everything you can think of, it’s time to give us a call to get to the bottom of it. Please contact usat 718-505-9300 or email us at info@tidalplumbingnyc.com.