A Smelly Shower

Smells in your shower

shower

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Often what happens in a shower, while the tiler is tiling the floor, is that excess tile adhesive and grout is washed down the shower drain. As a result, some of this grout may be lodged somewhere in the drainage system causing a blockage.

The following may have happened:

  • Either the trap or drainage pipes were damaged during an attempt to unblock the drain.
  • Grout is lodged in the trap and drain pipes.
  • The stub stack vent valve may be below the level of the highest plumbing fixtures on the drainage system in the bathroom.  As a result, the lowest fixture, such as the shower P-trap water seal may be syphoned out of the shower trap.

Of course, a combination of all three may occur as well. Unless the shower trap or drain pipes are damaged, you should be able to handle the cleanup yourself.

Mould in the P-trap

If your shower drain smells musty, you most likely have active mould growing underneath the drain cover. But, if your drain smells like rotten eggs or sewage, you’re either smelling bacteria from a clogged or dirty drain or sewer gases that have escaped from your drainage pipes.

As part of their metabolic process, active mould spores release a gas that has a distinct musty smell. In addition, the gas can be dangerous. If inhaled, it can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.

What you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Hot water (not boiling)
  • Old toothbrush

Steps to remove mould from a shower drain:

  1. Mix equal parts baking soda and water to create a paste.
  2. Use the toothbrush to apply the paste over the shower drain.
  3. Wait 10 minutes. Then use the toothbrush to scrub the entire shower drain thoroughly. Repeat as many times as needed to loosen any mould around or under the shower drain.
  4. Take 10 litres of hot water and pour it slowly down the drain.  Pour a cup of vinegar down the drain slowly.
  5. Pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain.

A rotten egg or sewage smell in your shower

If your drain smells like rotten eggs or sewage you may have one of the following issues:

  1. Bacteria from a clogged drain
  2. Sewer gases are escaping your pipes

Bacteria from a clogged or dirty shower drain

Run your shower water full open for 2-5 minutes. Check if you have a slow drain.  If it drains slowly, that smell is the buildup of bacteria and decomposing debris inside your drain. The bacteria emit a sticky, glue-like substance that allows them to stick to almost any surface.

As result, you’ll need to get rid of the obstruction and debris that is trapping (and feeding) all that bacteria to get rid of that smell.

What you’ll need:

  • Drain brush cleaner
  • Boiling water
  • Baking soda
  • White distilled vinegar

Steps to clear a clogged drain in your shower:

  1. Remove the shower drain grid with the screwdriver.
  2. Slowly pour 5 to 10 litres of water of very hot water down the drain (not boiling).
  3. Pour one cup of vinegar down the drain.
  4. Pour a half cup of baking soda immediately after the vinegar.
  5. Wait 2 hours then pour another 5 litres of hot water down the drain.
  6. Run a drain brush down the drain to remove any leftover debris. This also helps loosen and remove the bacteria’s sticky residue.

Sewage smell from your shower

If you don’t have a slow drain, you most likely are smelling sewer gases.

The amount you’re breathing in isn’t dangerous to your health. However, the smell does indicate that you have problems somewhere in your drainage system. Your drain pipes are designed to prevent any sewer gases from wafting back into your home.

The sewage smell in your shower could be:

  • A dry P-trap
  • No P-trap
  • Sewer backup

Unfortunately, you can only solve a dry P-trap problem on your own. If there is no P-trap or damaged P-trap you’ll need a plumber to fix it. However, before you call your plumber, try the following steps to see if your problem is just a dry P-trap!

How to fix a shower’s dry P-trap:

Firstly, shine a flashlight down your shower drain. You should see water at the bottom of the pipe connected to the drain.

But, if you don’t see water, you most likely have a dry P-trap. Sometimes the P-traps can dry out and leak nasty smelling sewer gases into your home.

However, if you don’t have a dry P-trap you will need a plumber to inspect your drainage system for other problems.

Do the following to fix a showers’ dry P-trap:

  1. Pour one or two cups of water down the drain and wait an hour.
  2. After an hour, take a look down the drain to make sure you can still see the water.
  3. If the shower barely gets used, pour ½ a cup of mineral or cooking oil down the drain (this slows evaporation and will keep the water in the trap longer).

If your shower P-trap is dry soon after this, you most likely have a cracked or broken P-trap or drain pipes. Furthermore, the level of the vent valve may have to be raised. Therefore, you’ll need to have a plumber repair or replace both.

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