Home Cleaning What to Do When Your Plumbing Starts to Stink

What to Do When Your Plumbing Starts to Stink


Foul odours in your home signify trouble more often than not. A case in point are those odours emanating from your plumbing. That moment your plumbing starts to stink is the same moment you realize you may have a problem to deal with. So what do you do?

Plumbing odours are fairly common. In some cases, they reveal minor problems that can be corrected fairly easily. In other cases, though stinky plumbing is a symptom of a bigger problem that might require professional help. The only way to know for sure is to figure out what is going on.

Dealing with stinky plumbing is a three-step process:

Step #1: Identify and Correct

Obviously, your first step is to identify the source of the foul odours. Once identified, it should be corrected as soon as possible. Leaving it uncorrected allows the foul odours to linger in your home. If they linger long enough, you might have trouble getting rid of them. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Sewer Odors – A sewer smell, like gasoline or rotten eggs, indicates that sewer odours are backing up into your home. The most common causes are bacteria growth inside a drain, damage to the toilet ring, or small cracks in drainpipes.
  • Sink Odors – Odors that smell like rotten eggs might be emanating from your sink. These are generally the result of bacteria, soap scum, and other substances building up somewhere in the system. Check the drain and pipe immediately under the sink as well as the sink overflow.
  • Garbage Disposal Odors – Some sink odours are actually emanating from the garbage disposal underneath. This is almost always caused by a splash guard covered by a buildup of food waste and bacteria. Change the guard and you remove the smell.
  • Sulfur in the Water – If your water smells like sulfur, you could be looking at one of two problems. First, you could have sulfur in your water heater. It is a fairly common problem. If the sulfur smell is emanating from both the hot and cold sides, then your external water source is contaminated. Filtration will normally solve the issue.

There are other potential problems that could create stinky odours emanating from your plumbing. The five suggestions here are just a starting point. If you cannot identify the source, call a plumber.

Step #2: Neutralize the Odors

Once you have identified the source and corrected the problem, you might still be left with lingering odors. Your next step is to neutralize those odors with a deodorizing product or essential oil. Salt Lake City-based Zephyr, makers of the Zephyr Fresh whole-home aromatherapy diffuser, explain that air freshening and air deodorizing are two different things.

Air fresheners rely on perfumes to mask unpleasant odors. Air deodorizing actually neutralizes odors with substances that trap offending molecules and deal with them accordingly. The key is to look for commercial products or essential oils with deodorizing capabilities.

Step #3: Add a Scent to the Air

Last but not least, the third step is to add a scent to the air in your home. Why is this step necessary? Because your brain can trick you into thinking the foul odor still exists even after it has been neutralized. Adding a new scent will cover these phantom smells until your brain overcomes the illusion on its own.

Essential oils are good for this step as well. Essential oils are volatile oils that are quite aromatic due to their rapid evaporation rate. They work so well that it does not take much to freshen your entire house.