Smelly drains can be a real nightmare, and often hard to get rid of. We are often called out by homeowners who are fed up with a lingering bad smell coming from their drains, and they’ve done everything they can think of to get rid of it. Often the smell from a drain can permeate the whole house and become a real nuisance.
What causes smelly drains?
While your drain might seem clean, and water appears to be running freely through it, it’s hard to see what’s really going on in such a long, often complex set of pipes. The main thing that causes smelly drains is a partial blockage.
When water is still draining from sinks and baths, we usually assume it is not blocked – but there can often be a partial blockage which allows water to drain reasonably well, but still causes a problem. A partial blockage can be caused by any number of things – and is particularly common in homes with small children, who seem to enjoy seeing what they can fit into the bathroom plug hole! Anything that gets stuck in your drain can then end up trapping other things around it such as hair and bits of food. Over time this will eventually create a blockage bad enough to cause problems – but the first sign is often a bad smell from the trapped items decomposing in your drain.
How to prevent smelly drains
As with many things in life, prevention is better than cure when it comes to drains.
The main thing you can do is ensure that nothing but water goes down your drains. This includes fats and oils, food, hair and anything your children might want to experiment with! The best way to do this is to invest in some cheap mesh covers for your plug holes, and use them all the time. Use an old tin can or other item to collect leftover grease and oil from foods, and put these in the bin – never, ever down the drain!
Fats and oils may be liquid when we pour them down the drain, but they can soon become solid and are a major cause of all blockages and bad smells. They stick in the pipe and become bigger and bigger as anything else that goes down the drain sticks to them. These blockages can become really difficult to clear.
Another tip for preventing smelly drains is to keep them clean. Obviously you can’t physically scrub the inside of your drains – but you can pour a kettle of boiling water down your kitchen sink every day. This just helps to make sure anything that was lurking can be moved along a little, and may help dislodge any small lumps of fat that may be stuck to the pipework.
In bathrooms, hair is usually the main culprit when it comes to bad smells and partial blockages. You might think hair would not cause a smell, but as it builds up in a tangled mess in the plug hole it traps everything else that would normally be washed away and can soon become smelly. If your plug is clogged with a mess of hair you can’t easily remove by hand, you could try using some cosmetic hair removal cream on it. Follow the instructions on the pack and make sure you run the taps for a long while afterwards to ensure the hair is washed away completely.