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Does Your Shower Drain Smell? Here Is What to Do

There can be many reasons for smelly drains. It could be bacteria or a clog. It might even be a sewer gas leak. If you’re experiencing a stinky shower drain, finding the root of the problem is the first step toward figuring out how to stop drains from smelling. Though your shower may be the area affected, many factors can affect multiple drains in your home, including those in the shower or showers present.

The causes of shower drain smells we’ve listed below may help you quickly determine where your problem lies and put you on the path to clearing up those smelly drains. Some measures you can take on your own, and others may require the assistance of a professional plumber like American Home Water and Air. Whatever situation you find yourself in, we’re here to help. Let’s go over some potential reasons for why your shower drain might smell, and how you can solve the issue.

Possible Causes for Shower Drain Smell


The hair and dirt going down your shower drain can build up in the pipes over time, leading to smells and blockages. Even if this is just a partial blockage, it can allow bacteria to build up and emit odors that rise from the drain and permeate the air in your home. You may be able to cure the problem with an enzymatic drain cleaner, a DIY solution or by snaking the drain, but if the problem is severe, it’s best to contact drain cleaning services.

Here is one simple solution you can try with ingredients you likely already have on hand:

Pour a half cup of baking soda and a quarter cup of salt onto the drain. Begin flooding the mixture with white vinegar until it bubbles up and goes down the drain. Let it sit for 15 minutes, and then pour hot water (not quite boiling) down the drain to rinse it away. Hopefully, this will rinse away the debris caught up in your drain and remove the smell. Repeating this every few weeks can keep your drains clean and prevent the odor from returning. 

If that fails, you can try a drain cleaner to break up blockages and send the clog remnants flushing out of the system to clear the pipes and remove the smell. There are many kinds of drain cleaners on the market for you to choose from, but it’s best to stay away from chemical-based brands that can damage your pipes. Instead, opt for some of the natural enzymatic or bio-clean formulas.

Clogs that aren’t too far down the pipe may be accessible enough for you to reach with a snake auger. This handy device can help you push through the clog and clear it away if it’s not too serious. Push the snake into the drain until you hit the clog and push through it, pushing and pulling it free until it is clear.

Vent Pipe Issues

The pipes that make up your drainage system are connected to a network of vent pipes that bring in the fresh air and allow gas and odors to escape. If this system gets clogged, smells can back up into the house drains, creating shower drain smells. The only solution to this problem is to contact a professional plumber to assess your vent pipe system and clean out any obstructions. You might also not have enough vent pipes. A professional can help you install additional vent pipes to handle your plumbing system needs with a full inspection of your plumbing system.

Sump Pump Stench

If you have too much wastewater directed toward your sump pump instead of the main sewer drain, you might experience a smell backing up into the drains. Have a plumber check the number of pipes draining into the sump pump and redirect some of them to the more significant sewer exits to keep the debris from appliances like washers and dishwashers from leaving smells behind. A bit of re-routing can correct the problem before it creates those pesky smells you want to avoid.

Drain Trap

You can prevent smells from the sewer lines from coming up through your bathtub and shower drain by having a licensed plumber install a drain trap. A quality drain trap is relatively inexpensive to install and can block those nasty smells from coming up from the sewer in the first place.

Water Woes

Sulfates occur naturally in the soil and rocks. In some instances, they can leech into the water supply and create a rotten egg smell. The professionals at AHWA can examine your water system and determine the best course of action in preventing this type of water contamination and the smells that come with it. 

One way to prevent this from happening is to invest in a whole house filtration system to remove contaminants before they enter your home.

Sewer Smells

If those shower drain smells in your home smell like sewage, you might have an issue with your main sewer line. If this is the case, the shower drain smells likely won’t be the only ones you notice. Because the sewer line carries away wastewater and dumps it into a septic tank or municipal sewer system. Any blockages or damage to the sewer lines from corrosion, tree roots, shifting or construction can cause sewage to back up into multiple drains in your home.

If you don’t take steps to prevent the problem from worsening, the problem can get worse. Sewage can continue to back up until it seeps into the basement or foundation. Tackle sewage smells immediately by contacting a plumber to correct the problem. A plumbing expert will have the proper equipment to locate and remove the blockage or make necessary repairs. 

Seek Help From Professionals With Your Shower Drain Smell

When dealing with shower drain smells, you can’t always tell where the problem lies. If there is a blockage, a licensed plumber may use water jets, snake augers or special cameras to locate and put an end to a smelly drain in your shower or elsewhere in your home. Our professional plumbers at American Home Water and Air can put an end to your smelly drains and help ensure unwelcome odors don’t return. We can take care of the repairs you need or provide a full plumbing inspection to address problems before they happen.

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