When water goes down your drain without any problems, that’s good, and that’s exactly how your plumbing is supposed to work. But when a smell is coming up out of your pipes, that’s definitely bad and indicates you have a problem.
We have the three most common causes for a smell coming from your plumbing. Let’s start with the one that’s toughest to address and work our way down from there.
Sewage Line Issues
There are many areas that might be a potential problem for smelly pipes, and some of them may require only a simple DIY fix, while others will need a professional.
In some cases, your sewer line may have a ventilation pipe and this pipe is simply blocked, not allowing gases to escape.
Clearing out leaves, a bird’s nest or other blockage is usually enough to fix these types of issues.
If the problem goes deeper than that, to your sewage line itself, this may be a bigger issue.
Something may be blocking your sewage line, meaning that the smell is just a symptom of a much bigger problem.
Your sewage line may have a break in it, and it is this leak that is causing a bad smell to track back. In these cases, you’ll need an expert to thoroughly inspect the line to track down the nature of the problem.
When it’s not the pipes that smell bad, but the water coming out of your faucet itself, a common cause of this is bacteria in your water heater. It is dark, obviously moist, and it is warm, all of which make for an ideal breeding ground.
In fact, Legionella pneumophila, which causes Legionnaire’s Disease, is quite happy in water tanks if the temperature is kept too low.
You can deal with this problem by readjusting your water heater temperature to between 135-140°. This temperature is too hot for most bacteria to survive.
That unusual “bendy shape” to the plumbing just under your sink is known as a p-trap. What it actually is, is a very cheap but incredibly effective vapor barrier that only needs some water in the pipes to work.
If the water dries out, or air pressure from water movement in other parts of the home plumbing displace this water, then sewage gases have a much easier time penetrating your home.
This is, by far, is the most common reason that smells come up from a sink, and all it takes to address the problem is to replenish the water.
Once the water is back, it prevents gases from entering into your home, providing some much needed, very cheap protection.