Serving Greenwood, Fishers, Carmel, Indianapolis & Surrounding Areas

October 30, 2023

Five Ways to Clean a Smelly Drain

You’ve cleaned up your bathroom and kitchen, with the floors, walls, and fixtures all glistening. So, why are you still smelling that unmistakable odor coming from your drain? The smell isn’t just off-putting; it can be embarrassing.

However, in many cases, pouring gallons of water down the drains doesn’t flush the issue. Isn’t there an easy trick for cleaning a smelly drain?

As a premier choice for drain cleaning in Greenwood, IN, Complete Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing has seen its fair share of smelly drains. Read on for everything you need to know, including some simple home remedies and when to call the professionals.

What Are the Causes of a Smelly Drain?

The top causes of a smelly drain that we see in our line of work include the following examples:

Trapped Dirt

If you don’t use a drain filter judiciously, food particles, grease, soap residue, hair, and other gunk will find their way down the drain. Bacteria acting on the dirt will then cause the emission of that foul drain smell you’re dealing with. Similarly, flushing insoluble material down your toilet can lead to waste accumulation in the drain, sending sewer smells back up into your home.

Dirty Garbage Disposal

The garbage disposal system helps grind up food waste that can’t go straight down the drain. You need to clean it regularly to prevent bacteria growth and the accompanying drain smell.

Dry or Broken P-Trap

The p-trap or u-bend under sinks and drains keeps sewer gas from coming back up into your home. They work by using the water they hold as a barrier against the smell from the drains below it. If you don’t use a drain frequently, there’s a crack, or the weather has been particularly hot, the water in the p-trap may dry out and let the smells out.

Clogged Vent Pipes

Vent pipes channel sewer gasses away from your home and into the atmosphere through the rooftop. Clogs in the system can cause several plumbing issues, including the backward flow of sewer gasses through your drain and into your home.

Septic System Issues

If you don’t take care of your septic system, you’re likely to get bad odors filtering into your home from the drains, in addition to other problems.

Five Approaches to Cleaning a Smelly Drain

If you want to start cleaning a smelly drain, follow these steps:

#1 Flush the Drain

Flushing the drain goes beyond pouring lots of water into it and hoping for the best. For the process to work, you need to combine cleaning agents that can eliminate the bacteria responsible for the smell. Here’s what you should do:

  • Create a mixture of distilled white vinegar and hot water. 
  • Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain first.
  • Then, pour the vinegar solution into it. 
  • Cover the drain with a drain plug and wait 15 minutes for the reaction. You may see some foaming due to the chemical reaction between the vinegar and the baking soda. 
  • After 15 minutes, flush the drain with hot water. 

This approach works because it can break down debris, clear out bacteria, and fill your p-trap with clean water, all of which will work to eliminate any odors.

#2 Clean the Garbage Disposal System

The drain smell may be coming from your garbage disposal system. Turn off the electrical breaker before you do anything else.

Now, clean the disposal system using the same mixture of vinegar, baking soda, and hot water. You can eliminate any residual smells by grinding halved lemons in the garbage disposal system.

#3 Clean the Drain P-Traps

In which part of your home do you sense the drain smell most strongly? Clean any P-traps around these areas. 

  • To start the process, place a bucket underneath the curved part of the drainage pipe. It’s a precaution to prevent water spills onto your floor.
  • Wear rubber gloves.
  • Use a wrench that’s the correct size to loosen it, and then remove the P-trap. 
  • Take the P-trap outside and clean it with a garden hose or by pouring water from another bucket. 
  • Lastly, use a hard-bristled brush and some dish soap to remove any caked-on dirt.

After cleaning the P-trap, reassemble it and flush the drain.

#4 Clean Out the Air Vent

If you’ve completed the steps above without any positive results, it’s time to check for clogs in your drain air vent. Use a sturdy ladder if you’re going to climb to the roof to inspect the vent, and work with an assistant to avoid any accidents. If you want to be safe and covered by someone else’s insurance, leave the job to a professional like Complete Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing.

#5 Schedule a Drain Cleaning Service

Have none of the steps above for cleaning a smelly drain worked for you? It’s time to request a professional drain cleaning service. The plumber will inspect your drainage system and decide on the best approach.

In many cases, drain snaking and flushing are enough to do the job. However, hydrojetting may be necessary if you have significant clogs deeper inside the drain line.

How to Keep the Drain Smell From Returning

Have you dealt with the smell? Keep it from returning by doing the following:

  • Clean your drains with the baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water mixture once a month.
  • Dispose of food waste correctly.
  • Clean your garbage disposal after each use.
  • Don’t allow the P-trap around your drain lines to dry out.

Solve Your Smelly Drain Problem Today

Have you tried everything you can to get rid of the smell coming from the drains without success? Call the experts at Complete Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing to make the process of cleaning a smelly drain straightforward. We’ll also answer questions on how to prevent clogged drains, keep the smell from returning, and more.

If you have a drain, plumbing, heating, or cooling problem, call the Complete Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing team in Greenwood, Indiana! Call (317) 671-7507 today or schedule an appointment with us online!