Eradicating Drain Odor

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From time to time you may notice an unpleasant odor emitting from the drains in your home. While sewer gas may be amongst the first things to come to mind, it is actually pretty unlikely due to the way in which plumbing works. The shape of drain pipes forms a curve known as a p-trap which acts as a barrier between your drain opening and potential sources of sewer gas. In the area where the pipe curves, a dip is formed, and in this dip a small amount of water is able to settle. In this p-trap, water can become rancid and odorous as it resides there and mingles with soap scum, hair, food deposits, and other bacteria. When you run water, the water already in the p-trap will be washed out, but when the water supply is turned off, water will still remain in that area and smells will rage on, even if the water there now is fresh from the faucet. However, if the sink in question is used infrequently, the water in the trap can evaporate, allowing gases into the home, so occasionally running water through all of your sinks is advised.


What is very likely to be the cause of the odor problems you are experiencing is debris itself that has become trapped in the drain. Even if signs and symptoms of a clog are not present, that does not mean an accumulation is not present in the drain. Common culprits are lingering food particles, hair, bacteria, and soap scum that have become trapped in amounts that are too small to form a clog but are plentiful enough to create a foul stench.


To get rid of such unpleasant drain odor, periodic cleaning of your p-trap and drains is necessary. There is not a need to take anything apart to perform this cleaning and it can be easily done with an item known as a zip tool. The purpose of a zip tool is cleaning debris from drains and it works by being inserted into the drain and allowed to penetrate clogs. When you pull it back out of the drain, along with it comes any sort of hair or debris that was caught in the drain thanks to the gripping teeth of the zip tool. When you pull the zip tool free from your drain, remove the debris on it and reinsert. Repeat the process until it comes out clean.


Once the drains are free of debris, disinfecting is necessary. Commercial cleaners are effective but contain harsh chemicals, but vinegar or bleach are useful for this purpose and can be used in a 50/50 dilute with water totaling a 2 cup mixture per application. Pour your mixture down the drain but also clean the overflow as well since bacteria may be present there as well. This solution will kill bacteria but as you continue to use sinks and bathtubs, such bacteria will begin to re-accumulate in time. Thus drain odor will need to be treated again from time to time, on either an as needed basis or a preventative one, whichever you prefer. Cleaning in advance of problems will keep your home smelling fresh and pleasant and usually all it takes is once a month attention to stop problem smells and clogs before their presence is announced with a whiff of foul drain odor.

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