Many homeowners in 2022 moved past COVID and opened their homes again to friends and relatives. Do you want to host gatherings but feel embarrassed because a noxious smell hangs over your kitchen or bathroom? A smelly sink drain should not put a damper on your social life.

Works Plumbing, the premier plumbers and drain cleaners in San Francisco, remain committed to giving our customers exceptional service, expert advice, and efficient plumbing repairs. Whether you have a plumbing emergency or want to give your plumbing a facelift, we are ready to help you get your stinky sink drain under control.

Reason #1: Clogged Drain

If your drain clogs, food particles and other debris can decay, causing odors. In addition to emitting foul odors, a clogged drain will drain slowly or not at all.

Why It Happens

A leading cause of clogged kitchen drains stems from cooking grease and oil, which can form a solid substance in the pipes. Congealed grease can combine with hair and other small pieces of food to form stubborn clogs. Hair, dental floss, and other trash can clog bathroom and shower drains.

What To Do About It

Plunging or snaking the drain can break up the clog and clear the pipes. Hot water or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar also helps to flush away clog remnants.

Once you have cleared a clog, avoid pouring cooking grease down the drain. Instead, let it solidify in a can or jar and dispose of it according to your local garbage disposal guidelines. 

Reason #2: Food Stuck in Your Garbage Disposal

Bits of food can rot if they collect in your garbage disposal. As with a clogged drain, a dirty garbage disposal breeds bacteria, mold, and insects. Each of these infestations produces unpleasant odors that can cause a smelly sink drain.

Why It Happens

Your garbage disposal might smell if you need to clean it more thoroughly after using it. 

If your garbage disposal doesn’t break up food properly due to broken blades or a problem with the motor, larger pieces of food might collect in the garbage disposal.

What To Do About It

If your garbage disposal works well but has food particles stuck inside it, flush it out with water. Run your garbage disposal for several seconds with the tap running and leave the water running for about twenty more seconds after turning off the garbage disposal.

If odors persist, use a combination of baking soda and vinegar to gently disinfect the disposal as you would for a clogged drain. 

If your garbage disposal malfunctions, call a professional disposal maintenance technician to have the garbage disposal repaired or replaced.

Reason #3: Drain Line Obstruction 

If the drain line leading to the sewer system has a clog, it can cause wastewater from toilets, showers, other sinks, and the dishwasher to back up into the sink drain. Since this wastewater does not drain properly, it can stagnate and produce odors that drift up through your sink drain.

Why It Happens

Drain lines can develop obstructions for many reasons, including tree roots, frozen pipes, cooking grease, flushable wipes, and hair. Drain lines travel some distance between your kitchen or bathroom sink, so the blockage could be far away from the smelly sink drain you are trying to fix. A professional plumber can use diagnostic equipment to track down the source of the problem.

What To Do About It

The best way to fix obstructions in the drain and sewer lines depends on the nature of the obstruction. In some cases, snaking the drain line could dislodge the clog. If not, a plumber might need to remove and replace the obstructed section of the pipe.

A professional plumbing company will need to inspect the lines to isolate the clog. The plumber can sometimes track down the obstruction by inserting a video camera down the smelly drain. 

Reason #4: Smelly Compounds in Tap Water

If your tap water has an odor, the drain will naturally have the same odor. Water naturally contains small concentrations of chemicals such as minerals. One type of chemical that can occur in water is sulfates. Sulfates contain sulfur, which gives them a powerful, unpleasant smell.

Why It Happens

Sulfates naturally work their way into the water supply from organic material and rocks. 

What To Do About It

Reverse osmosis water filters catch sulfates, minerals, and other chemicals in the water. Installing a whole-house filter should eliminate the smell of sulfates from all your drains.

Reason #5: Mold Buildup and Bacterial Growth

Many types of mold produce chemicals that have a distinctive odor, either as waste products or to discourage animals from eating them. If mold grows in your kitchen sink drain, it could produce spores and release them into the air.

Bacteria tend to thrive in the same conditions as mold. Their waste products can contribute to the odor of a smelly sink drain.

Why It Happens

Mold and bacteria grow well in moist environments. Drains make ideal environments for mold and bacteria growth, especially if food particles and other nutrients have the chance to accumulate.

What To Do About It

Fortunately, white vinegar and baking soda are good disinfecting agents. They will kill bacteria and molds and give your drains a fresher smell.

Reason #6: Drain Flies

Drain flies refer to a group of flies that live in watery environments and feed on rotting food and bacteria. They often infest kitchen and bathroom sinks because they provide a food source. They produce an unpleasant odor.

Why It Happens

Drain flies can breed in sinks that provide them with a combination of moisture and a food source. They do particularly well in aquatic environments and sometimes try to use the kitchen or bathroom drain as a habitat.

What To Do About It

You can get rid of drain flies by making your drain an inhospitable environment for drain flies. The following tricks should get rid of drain flies.

Use the drain cleaning techniques discussed above to flush out bacteria and decaying food, depriving the food flies of a food source.

Cover the drain with duct tape overnight to trap them when they try to fly out of the drain.

Create a trap using sugar water or apple cider vinegar as bait. Either cover the trap with plastic wrap and poke holes in the top to let the flies in or add soap to the solution to trap flies that land on it.

Reason #7: Odors From the P-Trap

The p-trap takes its name from a bend in the pipe just below the drain that makes it resemble the letter P. It prevents harmful sewer gases from floating up through the drain and making people sick.

Why It Happens

Normally, water fills the p-trap. The water traps odors along with sewer gases. If the p-trap has dried out or the water has leaked out of the P-trap, foul-smelling gases will escape and float up from the drain.

What To Do About It

The solution to a faulty p-trap depends on why the p-trap doesn’t work. If the trap has dried out, you can fix it by pouring water down the drain. If the p-trap leaks, you might need to call a plumber to fix it.

Reason #8: A Blocked Sewer Vent

We often think of the pipes in our homes as carrying water, but they also carry air. Your plumbing system has vents that allow gases to escape.

Why It Happens

If an obstruction blocks sewer vents, gases will escape the plumbing system in less desirable ways, like bubbling up through the toilet or kitchen sink, carrying a sewer smell with them. 

What To Do About It

Fortunately, a plumber can fix a clogged sewer vent pipe the same way you fix other pipe clogs. They climb up to the roof, remove the cap on the vent, and physically remove the clog.

Reason #9: A Plumbing Installation Problem

If you recently had plumbing work done or have taken possession of a newly constructed home, you might notice problems with your plumbing, including obstructions, leaks, noises, or a smelly sink drain.

Why It Happens

Ideally, it should never happen, but people make mistakes.

What To Do About It

If the plumbing work is under warranty, describe the problem to the plumber who installed it and ask them to correct the mistake. If you do not know who did the work or don’t have a warranty, find a plumber in your area to handle the repair.

Schedule Drain Maintenance and Repair With Works Plumbing

At Works Plumbing, we provide more than efficient, professional plumbing services. We aim to educate our consumers about using pipes properly so they can avoid costly repair bills. Read our blog to learn about the dangers of pouring grease down your drains and other common plumbing mistakes.

Let Works Plumbing fix your smelly sink drain and keep your pipes clean. Call 650-414-7261 to book an appointment. Ask us about our special offers.

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