No one likes to start their morning by stepping into a smelly shower. However, because you probably use your shower and tub every day and because it literally exists to keep you clean, it’s hard for it not to absorb some grime over time, in turn leading to those foul odors. Oftentimes, the cause of a smell in your shower is a nasty clog in the shower drain. That said, what leads to clogs and other shower odors may vary. Keep reading for the top 5 reasons your shower drain smells, and make sure to call our skilled plumbers at Dial One Johnson Plumbing, Cooling & Heating for all your drain and sewer service needs.
5 Common Causes of Smelly Shower Drains
- Your Strainer Is Clogged: Many showers have a strainer or stopper over the drain to prevent hair and soap scum clogs. However, as this debris builds up, it’s fairly common for your strainer to become clogged, too. Fortunately, you can easily get rid of this accumulation by taking your strainer out and washing it. If your strainer is a separate component from your shower, you should be able to simply remove it by hand. If it’s attached to the shower drain, you should be able to take it off using a simple Phillips-head screwdriver.
- Biofilm Has Collected In/Around Your Drain: Biofilm refers to any collection of one or more microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and protists. Biofilm can accumulate in virtually any kind of drain lines, though the near-constant moisture in your shower creates a perfect environment for it to creep up your shower/tub drains. This brings us to the most common kind of biofilm you are likely to find in your shower…
- There Is Mold of Mildew Growing In/Around Your Drain: If your shower is not regularly cleaned, it is possible for mold or mildew (the beginning of a mold colony) to grow. Again, mold grows best in damp, humid environments, so your shower drains are a perfect location for it to sprout. You may find multiple types of mold growing in your shower, including Serratia marcescens, more commonly known as “pink mold,” or even Stachybotrys chartarum, aka dangerous “black mold.” Fortunately, if you do find mold in your shower, you should be able to remove it using an antifungal like hydrogen peroxide, or a cleaning solution made of baking soda, vinegar, and water. Whatever you use, however, don’t wait too long to scrub that mold away, as ingesting mold spores can be extremely hazardous for your health.
- Your P-Trap Is Dry: The “p-trap” is the curving part of your drain that connects the fixture to your larger drain system. Named for its distinctive “p” shape, the reason the p-trap is made this way is so that it can literally trap and hold some of the water that enters your drain. This prevents noxious sewer gasses from floating up through your pipes. If you detect a musty or otherwise foul smell coming from your p-trap, it may be clogged or accumulating mold, in which case you will need to wash it out. However, if you can smell that sulfuric, rotten egg smell that indicates sewer odors are coming through your pipes, chances are your p-trap is dry and there’s something wrong with it. First, remove your strainer to see if there is any visible water in your p-trap. If there is not, conduct a test by pouring a few cups of water down the drain and waiting about an hour (you may also want to pour some cooking oil in with your -p-trap to keep the water from evaporating.) Wait a few hours, and if you do not see the water, call a professional plumber to determine if there is something wrong with your p-trap or larger drain line.
- Your Vents Are Clogged: Another explanation of why your p-trap isn’t working correctly may be that you are dealing with a blocked or clogged shower vent. The venting in your shower pipe is essential to getting rid of the air that is pushed out by water. Without proper ventilation in your lines, the suction from your pipes can siphon water out of your trap. Your p-trap connects to your shower vent, which connects to the “vent stack,” which is the component on the outside of your home used to vent toxic sewer gasses. Everything from leaves and twigs to animal nests can block your vent stack, and when this happens, your shower vent will become clogged, too. If you know where your vent stack is, inspect it to see if there are any visible obstructions. If there aren’t, the clog may be deeper, and you may need to call a plumber to inspect your venting system, and possibly pressure-jet the blockage out.