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Why Does My Shower Drain Smell?

water drops on metal gutter of shower tray in valser quartzite stone

Have you noticed foul shower drain smells every time you take a shower? Maybe the smells have become so bad they stink up your bathroom all the time? There can be several causes why your shower drain stinks, depending on the cause.

What Causes a Shower Drain to Smell?

Biofilm Stuck to Drain Pipes

If you think about everything that goes down a shower drain, including hair, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and shaving gel, it is only a matter of time before these things start to build up in the drain lines. Eventually, as hair decomposes and is mixed with the other things stuck to the pipes, it can start to stink. This slimy, icky stuff is often referred to as biofilm.

Removing biofilm from drain pipes requires a professional drain cleaning from your local plumber. They have special equipment that removes the biofilm and cleans the drain line to eliminate foul odors.

Vent or P-Trap Issues

Sometimes the smells from your shower drain come from farther down the drain line. Shower plumbing is connected to a p-trap that allows water to flow into the main sewer line. A vent is also connected to the p-trap to allow gases and air to escape as the water drains away.

If the vent is clogged, broken, or damaged, the air cannot escape. So, it can be forced back up the drain line and bring unwanted smells with it. Furthermore, if the p-trap is not retaining enough water, it can dry out and lead to bacteria growth, which causes unwanted smells.

This type of smell is also common when you rarely use a shower, such as in a guest bathroom. So, running water down the drain a few times a week is a good idea to prevent it from drying out. However, if you are running water regularly and it still smells, you should call your plumber for assistance.

Water Leaks

Leaks in water supply lines and drain lines can cause unwanted smells in the shower. Water leaks also promote the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria, all of which can stink. If you suspect a water leak and cannot find the source of it yourself, your plumber has the tools that pinpoint leaks so they can be repaired.

Damaged Backflow Preventer

As wastewater and raw sewage exit the home, it passes through a backflow preventer. This device stops the water and sewage from back-flowing up the drain pipes. Unfortunately, when this is damaged, there is nothing to prevent the backflow, which can cause shower drains to smell like sewage.

Clogged, Broken, or Damaged Sewer Lines

Caucasian men cleaning linear shower drain

When your main sewer line is clogged, broken, or damaged, it can cause smells to travel back up drain lines. Usually, you will notice smells coming from the shower drain first. However, the odors can become more noticeable in other drains the longer the problem exists.

What Is the Best Way to Resolve Shower Drain Smells?

The best way to resolve smelly shower drains is with assistance from your local plumber. At Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing, we offer leak detection, sewer repair, p-trap and vent repair, and drain cleaning in Austin and San Antonio to eliminate foul odors from your shower drains. Contact us today by calling 512-246-5400.

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