Bathroom Sewer Smell: What It Means When Your Shower Drain Smells

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P-traps are a necessary component of residential plumbing systems

A constant sewer smell in your bathroom coming from your shower drain can either be a serious problem or a simple fix. Locating the cause of the bathroom sewer smell is often the greatest challenge. The cause can sometimes be elusive and has stumped many a seasoned plumber. Use the following information to point your nose towards the likely culprit, and then call in the professionals to fix it.

Natural Causes

If you are one of the lucky ones, the smell is caused by an organic layer of slime sometimes referred to as biofilm. This bacteria-ridden film builds up over time, coating the inside of both your shower and basin drains and tailpieces. As the water rushes past and disturbs this slimy substance, it omits smelly molecules of gas into the air. Often, a thorough cleaning of both the drain and its applicable parts will eliminate the obnoxious odors.

Mechanical Issues

If you have ever looked under your sink, you have probably noticed that U-shaped pipe connected to the sink basin. It is called a P-trap and is an important component of your drain system. A P-trap is designed to hold a small amount of water in the lowest point of the pipe, which prevents sewage smells from creeping into your home. Your tub and shower also utilize a P-trap as well, although they are under the floor and out of sight. This is where the news gets bad. If, during bathroom construction or remodeling the plumbing contractor or homeowner failed to install a P-trap under the tub or shower drain, a bathroom sewer smell will invade your bathroom area. The fix is not an easy one, as this is a major plumbing project requiring a professional plumber.

Incorporated within the plumbing’s drain system is a vent stack. The section of pipe connects to the sewer line and travels up the wall and through the roof. Its main function is to provide a breathing point for the drain system. Without it, the drain would build up a vacuum, which would prevent it from functioning properly or could cause it to not drain at all. If the vent stack becomes detached or broken within the wall, sewage gas will escape into the wall cavity and find its way into your bathroom.

Although your toilet can be the cause of sewage gas seeping into your bathroom, it is not related to a missing P-trap as this handy device has one already built in. The problem arises from around its base. Toilets incorporate a wax ring to seal the gap between a sewer line and toilet to prevent leaks. Often, as time progresses, as the seal ages and becomes prone to failure. Homeowners with a moderate skill set in home improvement might attempt this repair but most call a plumber to rid themselves of the putrid smells and prevent potential water damage to their home.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

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