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Question DetailsAsked on 4/15/2013

The drain in my bathroom sink gives off a sewer smell. What's the problem?

I've noticed that my bathroom sink gives off a sewer smell when I turn on the water. The problem seems to be limited to that sink only. What is causing the smell? Do you have any DIY suggestions for resolving it? Thanks in advance.

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1 Answer


Since you said only that sink (which you presumably use at least daily), then does not sound like sulferous water or a hot water heater gone anoxygenic. Check water smell at the sink and then at the shower and kitchen sinks - would eliminate those possible sources right away.

Then - look underneath the sink to be sure the smell is not coming from smelly trap water leaking out of the U-trap when water goes down the drain. The gaskets/seals on traps commonly loosen up with the alternating hot and cold water going down them. It may only take a tightening (firmly hand tight only on plastic pipe), or maybe a disassembly and gasket replacement.

If not that, make sure where the smell is coming from - if it is from the drain and occurs ONLY when you run water, then it probably needs a good cleaning out (i.e. removing the trap and cleaning it out, reassembling, then running about a half cup of baking soda down it, followed by a half cup of vinegar down it and letting that sit for a few minutes before flushing with hot water [do NOT use the vinegar if you have brass drain pipes under the sink - only if iron or plastic]). I doubt that is it - kitchen sinks commonly smell due to that, but bathroom sinks don't get the organic materials down them to go putrid very often. If it smells all the time, then you may have a blocked vent pipe, or possibly some string or hair in the trap causing the water in the U-trap to wick out, thereby eliminating the water seal in the U-trap and letting sewer gas come up into the air.

If it is a trap with a lot of gunk built up, you need to get the trap cleaned out (lots of do it yourself show have videos on this (is pretty simple as long as you don't break the pipe or lose or damage a gasket or seal), or you can call a plumber if you are not a handyman type or the pipes are old metal ones and corroded at the fittings.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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