Because of the nature of plumbing, it’s easy to see why some people might be compelled to ignore a problem if it’s a small one.
Something like a leak doesn’t immediately cause a lot of trouble, but neglecting smaller issues can sometimes lead to bigger, more expensive problems in the long run.
That’s especially true when it comes to bad smells coming from your plumbing. A smell might not seem like a big physical issue, but the fact that you can detect something bad means that there’s already a health risk to everyone in the home.
It’s only going to get worse unless you do something about it. Fortunately, the solution doesn’t always have to be complicated, or expensive.
You Smell Something in Your Drain
If you can track a smell to a specific drain, and you detect the odor no matter what is happening, you most likely just have an empty p-trap.
Smells from the drain are usually caused by sewer gas floating up into your home, when normally they would be stopped from drifting in that far by the bend in the pipes under a sink known as the p-trap.
Under normal circumstances, the p-trap is filled with water, which acts as a very efficient barrier against all vapors, including sewer gas.
If the gas is getting through, this means there’s no water in the p-trap, so the solution is to just pour more water into the drain until your restore the barrier.
You Smell Something in the Water
If you only detect a bad smell whenever the water is running, then water is clearly the source. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s the water supply itself that is contaminated.
Something in your home may be adding in the contamination once it’s arrived, and it may be your water heater tank.
The water heater tank can be a breeding ground for bacteria—even some capable of causing Legionnaire’s disease—because of the warm, protective environment it provides. Bacteria are not that resilient when it comes to turning up the heat, however.
All you have to do is raise the temperature in your tank to somewhere in the neighborhood of 135-140°F, and that can kill bacteria.
You Smell Something in Your Sewage Line
Once a problem is tracked down to something more extensive, like your sewer line, things get more complicated. There are plenty of potential areas for things to go wrong.
In some cases, it can still be an easy DIY fix, such as a blocked vent that just needs to remove the bird’s nest or leaves obstructing gases from exiting.
If the smell is coming from somewhere deep in your sewer line, this may be a problem that is too large and complex for an easy DIY solution.
At this stage, especially if you want a quality, permanent solution for something like a possible blockage or even break in your pipe, you’ll need a professional.