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How To Eliminate Shower Drain Odors

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Smelling a foul odor when you take your morning shower isn't a good way to start the day. To get rid of the offensive smell, you first have to determine what is causing it. Since water in the shower drain pipe acts as a barrier, the odor most likely isn't from sewer gas backing up into your bathroom. Instead, the source of drain smells is typically organic matter, such as biofilm and hair, or even mold and mildew.

Organic Matter 

Biofilm, which includes body oils and soap residue, can build up inside the shower drain pipe. The sludge-like substance harbors foul-smelling bacteria whose odor can be noticeable every time water runs over it.

To get rid of the odor, you must eliminate the biofilm from the pipe. To do this, first remove the brass or chrome strainer cover off of the shower drain so that you can access the drain pipe. Use hot, soapy water and a bottle brush to clean both sides of the strainer cover and the bowl-shaped drain assembly underneath.

Clean the drain by removing any build-up of hair and biofilm with a drain-cleaning tool. Use the tool grab the matter and pull it up and out of the drain pipe. Then, use the bottle brush and soapy water to scrub the sides of the vertical drain pipe clean.  Finally, pour either diluted white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide down the drain, which will kill any bacteria that remains. Complete the process by flushing the drain with hot water. For deeper clogs, you can use a plumbing snake.

Mold or Mildew

If the source of the bad smell is mold or mildew, removing any build-up, scrubbing the drain pipe with the bottle brush, and finishing with a diluted vinegar or hydrogen peroxide rinse should kill it. 

However, the mold and mildew may be growing elsewhere in your shower, such as on the walls or even behind the tile if you have a water leak.  If you've cleaned the drain and still smell a strong musty, moldy odor, check other areas of your shower for a potential cause. 

Sulfate-Laden Well Water

If your home has well water, it could contain sulfates, which turns into rotten egg-smelling hydrogen sulfide gas.  To get rid of the odor, you can either have the sulfate levels in your water checked by a professional, or replace the magnesium anti-corrosion rod in your water heater with an aluminum one. When the sulfates in water reacts with magnesium, foul-smelling gas may form. You can find the aluminum replacement rods at a do-it-yourself retailer.

For more information on professional drain cleaning, contact a company like Lowry Services: Electric, Plumbing, Heating & Cooling.