You're washing dishes after dinner when suddenly, a rather unpleasant smell wafts up from the sink, or you're getting out of the shower and a sulfurlike stench hits the air. Whether you've been in these exact scenarios or not, it's helpful to know what causes a sulfur smell in your drain so you can resolve this fairly common issue if it occurs. After all, nobody likes a stinky kitchen or bathroom drain.
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What Causes a Sulfur Smell?
If you smell rotten eggs coming from the drain, this is hydrogen sulfide — a gas that forms when bacteria grows in drains and sewage. Over time, as bacteria from grease, oils, hair, food particles, and other debris build up, it can cause a partially or fully clogged drain. When this bacterial activity builds into a clog, it creates very foul-smelling hydrogen sulfide gas. While this gas doesn't present any health hazards, it's not exactly nice to live with.
How to Find the Source of the Smell
It's important to locate the source of the sulfur smell first so you can effectively solve the problem. Most often, the smell of sulfur originates from a clog in your drain, although it could also be from bacterial growth in the hot water tank.
To test whether the smell is coming from your drain or water, simply fill a glass with water from the cold tap and take it outside to smell it. Repeat this process with hot water. If there's no smell at all, the problem is likely coming from your drain. If there's a smell with both the cold and hot water, it's likely that your water supply is contaminated. If, on the other hand, the smell is only discernible with the hot water, there's a chance the problem could be with your water heater.
How to Get Rid of the Smell
After determining where that pesky smell is coming from, it's time to eradicate it. If the problem is with your drain, you should first ensure that your garbage disposal is clean. If you've been neglecting it, it's very possible that it's clogged and that awful smell is coming from rotted food that's lodged somewhere.
If your sink drain is contaminated, it's crucial to kill off any bacteria in the waste pipe and P-trap. To do so, you can pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the drain. Then, follow up with a cup of vinegar and finish by flushing everything out with boiling water. Otherwise, if the problem is with your water supply or water heater, it's always best to enlist the assistance of a plumbing professional.