What's That Smell? Diagnosing The Odor Coming From Your Sink

Posted on: 6 January 2017


It's happens to every homeowner at one point; a terrible odor begins emanating from the sink. There are a few things that can cause this issue, so it can be challenging to pinpoint the problem. Here are two reasons your sink may stink and what you can do to fix the issue.

Smelly Drains

By far, the most common reason your sink smells is because of buildup that has accumulated in your drain. This is typically due to sticky soap scum that catches oil, hair, food, and other particulates that flow down the drain. This gunk builds up over time and usually leads to clogs if not eliminated. However, long before that, the rotting particulates will usually make your sink smell.

You can usually determine the drain is the problem if the smell is only coming from one sink, especially if it's a kitchen or bathroom sink where this problem commonly occurs. The sink will also typically drain slowly, indicating there's a partial clog in the pipe.

Cleaning the drain should fix this issue. There are numerous chemical products available designed to address this particular problem. If you prefer not to use them or your budget is a little tight, you can clean the drains using stuff you probably already have in your cabinet.

One option is to pour about a cup of baking soda down the drain and follow up with two cups of vinegar. Wait about half an hour for the solution to break up the clog and then pour a large pot of hot water down the drain to flush it out. Pouring a bit of lemon juice down the drain afterwards can help eliminate the vinegar smell.

Smelly Water

Although drains are often the source of odors, sometimes your water heater will be the culprit. The source of the problem in this situation is bacteria that react badly with minerals that have accumulated in your water heater tank. This combination is further aggravated by the aluminum anodes, which leads to the production of hydrogen sulfide gas. You can tell this is the case if all the water in your home has a rotten egg smell.

The fix for this issue is a little more complicated. You first need to get rid of the bacteria and minerals by flushing the water heater tank. Essentially, you would turn off the water and open the drain valve. Depending on how long it's been since the last time the tank was flushed, you may need to use a chemical agent to break up any mineral buildup that may be left in the tank and fill and flush the water heater several times.

The second step involves replacing the anode rod. Smelly water typically indicates the rod has been corroded, and you'll run into the same problem if you don't exchange it for a new one. You can purchase these rods at a local home improvement store. Replacing them typically involves unscrewing the bolt holding the rod in place, removing it, and then screwing in the new one.

For more information about this issue or help fixing these problems, contact a plumber.