Residential Plumbing

Plumbing Smells and What They Mean

There are a few common reasons why your plumbing would smell. If someone just used the bathroom, the smell could linger even if you have an exhaust fan running. But what about persistent smells from the plumbing? What about smells that seem to come from the sink or bathtub drains? Here are a few plumbing smells you might encounter and what they mean.

Sink Drains

Sinks are indispensable for modern life, but they can become smelly problems. This is particularly true of your kitchen sink. Here are a few reasons you might notice a foul smell from your kitchen sink:

  • Food particles caught in the pipe
  • Grease build-up within the pipe
  • Bacteria growing in the P trap

If you’re smelling odors from your kitchen sink, the issue could be stagnant water and bacterial growth in the P trap. 


Have you noticed a foul smell coming from a bathtub or shower drain? If that’s the case, it could be from hair buildup within the drain. It captures other debris and gives bacteria a place to thrive.


If you notice that the smell is coming from the faucet and not from the drain, you have a couple of other possibilities when it comes to identifying odors. 

  • It could be bacteria in your water supply
  • It could be bacteria in your water heater (you only smell the odor when using hot water)
  • It could be gunk buildup within the faucet itself (remove the aerator cap and inspect for mold buildup)

Malfunctioning P Traps

Sinks and other plumbing fixtures use what’s called a P trap to help prevent odors from the sewer line from flowing back into your home. This is just a P-shaped section of pipe that holds water. The water acts as a barrier to odors. However, if that water evaporates or drains out because of damage to the piping, the odors naturally present within the sewer line will affect your space.

Blocked Air Vent

Air vents allow drains to, well, drain. They usually run from your plumbing up through the walls and eventually through the roof of your home. If a vent becomes blocked, the drains won’t work correctly, and you could experience foul odors.

What Do I Do About Plumbing Odors?

In some cases, fixing a plumbing odor-related problem is a simple DIY project. However, that’s not the case for all of them. If you’re not sure you can handle the issue or you cannot identify what’s causing the smell in the first place, it’s time to call Elk Grove Sewer & Plumbing.

Elk Grove Village Sewer & Plumbing

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Elk Grove Village Sewer & Plumbing

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