Homeowners spend a lot of time in their kitchens, so when there’s a foul odor coming from the sink, quick diagnoses and solutions are crucial to staying comfortable. If your sink smells like sewer, keep reading to learn why that may be, what you can do about it, and how to keep it from happening in the future.
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Five Reasons Why Your Kitchen Sink Smells Like Sewer
Foul sink smells are annoying, and figuring out what’s causing them proves trickier than you may think. Here are five common causes of nasty kitchen sink smells:
1. No Water in the P-Trap
If you’ve ever looked at the drain pipe under your sink, you have probably noticed how it dips down and then back up again. This U-shaped section of pipe is called the P-trap. Ideally, there is always water in the P-trap that blocks sewer odors.
When a sink goes unused for a long enough period, the water can evaporate, allowing the sewer gases to seep up into the home.
2. Clog in the Sewer Line
The P-trap serves another purpose: it stops food and other debris from going down into the sewer line. If the P-trap gets too full of junk, these particles drain into the sewer line, where they build up and cause a clog. A clogged sewer line cannot function properly and may allow sewer gases to enter your home.
3. Clog in the Plumbing Vent
A plumbing vent removes sewer odors from your home by venting them up through the roof. The gases cannot escape if something is blocking the vent, such as snow, leaves, or animal debris. This may be why your kitchen sink smells like sewer, as the gases will exit another way.
4. Food Debris in the Disposal or Pipe
Bad smells in the kitchen sink also stem from leftover food particles stuck in the garbage disposal and drain pipe. Even a tiny amount of rotting food can cause a big stink.
5. Grease in the Drain Pipe
Pouring grease down your kitchen sink is never a good idea. Once the oil cools and hardens in the pipes, it breaks down, causing rotten odors. Grease can also cause clogs that are especially difficult to clear.
Five Ways to Neutralize Bad Smells in Your Kitchen Sink
If you’re dealing with foul odors coming from your kitchen sink, give some of these DIY methods a try.
1. Hot Water
Try pouring boiling water down the drain to clear clogs and clean the drain pipe walls. Add dish soap to help kill the bacteria that may be growing there.
2. Vinegar and Baking Soda
If boiling water is not enough by itself, add the tried and true mix of vinegar and baking soda. Begin by covering the drain on the other side of the sink if you have a double sink in your kitchen.
Pour some hot water down the drain, and then some baking soda. Next, pour some vinegar. You will notice fizzing as the two form a chemical reaction to neutralize odors and clear clogs. After this sits for a minute or two, pour down some more boiling water.
3. Unclogging the P-Trap
If you haven’t inspected the P-trap under your sink in a while, you may need to empty it. Simply remove the U-shaped section of pipe, clean it out, and then securely reattach it. If you need help, ask a savvy friend or plumbing professional.
4. Ice and Salt
Running a combination of ice and salt through your garbage disposal can knock food and other debris away. The salt acts as an abrasive cleaner while the ice helps remove stuck particles from the blades.
5. Lemon Rinds
Lemon (or any other citrus) offers a pleasant fragrance. Take advantage of this by running lemon rinds through the garbage disposal. This simple trick goes a long way in freshening up a kitchen sink.
Four Ways to Prevent Kitchen Sink Smells
Once you have the unpleasant sink odors under control, keep the following in mind to prevent them from returning.
1. Don’t Pour Hot Grease Down the Sink
Pouring hot grease down your kitchen sink may seem harmless, but it causes clogs and foul odors. Instead, pour the grease into a heat-resistant container (such as a soup can), wait for it to harden, and then throw it away. For small amounts of oil, soak it up using a paper towel.
2. Use the Sink Regularly
To avoid nasty sink smells caused by a dry P-trap, regularly use the sink. If you find that you don’t use a specific sink in your home very often, try to wash your hands there once a week to ensure there’s water in the P-trap.
3. Get a Drain Screen
One of the easiest ways to keep large pieces of food from falling down the drain is to invest in a drain screen. This mesh sits over the drain, allowing water to pass through but not large debris. Just be sure to clean the screen regularly, or you may end up causing more unpleasant smells.
4. Get Regular Professional Maintenance
Many homeowners wait until they have an emergency before calling a professional plumber. Keep in mind that preventative maintenance can save you from many problems down the road, whether that’s a foul odor, a leak, or another issue. Have a plumber inspect your pipes once a year to keep them clean and functioning optimally.
Professional Drain Cleaning Services in Illinois
The experienced plumbing professionals at Advantage Plumbing & Sewer Co. can handle any plumbing service you need. Our team of experts will help you solve why your sink smells like sewer or deal with any other plumbing issue you may have.