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Why Does My Shower Drain Smell?

Identifying The Source Of The Smell

Showers are very important for your average american with most people using the shower at least once a day. Shower drains are also used daily and sometimes users may notice that they have an unpleasant smell usually of sulfur or mildew. During the course of our work here at My Plumbing Lake Oswego we regularly get questions from customers and a common one that many people would like to know Why Does My Shower Drain Smell. There are many reasons like mold, mildew growing, hair or grime accumulated. In some cases, the p-trap is malfunctioning, due to which the sewer gas are entering the shower room. Some of the most common reasons for the problems and convenient methods to fix them are listed below.

Dry p-trap

Each bathroom fixture is connected to the drain system through a p-trap which is the curved portion of the drain pipe. This section has a distinct u or p shape. The p-traps are curved so that they hold a part of the water that is passing through them. This water helps prevent the unpleasant smelling sewer gases in the drainage system from floating up through the drain pipes so that the shower user smells them. If the shower smells of rotten eggs or other sewer gases, the p-trap may be malfunctioning. Remove the strainer and use a flashlight to check if there is any water in the drain. If there is no water, the p-trap may be dry,. For testing, pour some water and check after one hour. Cooking oil can also be poured in the drain with the water. If there is no water in the p-trap after one hour, contact an experienced plumber to fix the problem.

Clogged stopper/strainer

Usually showers have a stopper or strainer fitted over the drains to catch the hair, other debris before it flows away. This debris and grime will accumulated over time on the strainer, to produce an unpleasant smell. The stopper is easier removed by hand, strainers are screwed on the pipe. Hair, grease and other debris will accumulate on the strainer which can be unscrewed for cleaning. An old toothbrush, sponge, hot soapy water can be used to clean the strainer, and gloves used to handle it. The drain pipe should also be cleaned. After the strainer is completely cleaned it can be replaced.

Blocked or clogged vents

Pipes have vents so that air pushed out when water passes through the pipe have an exit path. If the pipe vents are not working properly, the suction will remove the water from the p-trap, making it dry. Usually the vents connected to the trap and other pipes are connected to the vent stack, which is an outlet for all the air. The vents are usually clogged at the vent stack due to debris which has fallen in, birds nests or similar reasons.Family members who know the location of the outlet of their vent stack could clean it themselves, removing anything visible from the vent mouth. In some cases, the blockage may be inside and cleaning with a water hose may clear the vent. If even this fails, one specific pipe vent may be blocked or there may be a sewage system problem.


Keeping the shower drain system in your home working will require constant attention to maintenance, and it is a good homeowner who also can undertake the small and minor works that this involves. So, with just a few tools and some basic knowledge, a homeowner should be able to attend to most shower related issues. However, if things become too much having a good plumbing service on your speed dial can always serve as a good backup.

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