Why Does My Shower Smell?

Bathrooms should smell fresh and inviting. After all, it’s where we clean up and get ready for the day. However, you may one day walk into the shower and recoil at the foul odor. The unpleasant sensation is the last thing you expect from this space, but it can happen due to various reasons. Don’t fret. You can make it go away with basic troubleshooting. If it persists, call a plumber for immediate relief. This article answers the question, “Why does my shower smell?”.

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Common Causes For A Smelly Shower

People use the bathroom every day, so they are familiar with its sights, sounds, and smells. They notice changes right away. It would be a mistake to ignore unusual odors because these might indicate a deeper problem. Follow your nose. Find the source and take notes. The smell can tell you what you are dealing with. Below are a few of the common causes of smelly shower drains:

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A Dry P-Trap

image of a p-trap under sink in plumbing system

Look under your kitchen sink. You will find a pipe shaped like a letter P, with a curved section designed to hold water and block sewer gasses from entering the home. This P-trap is also present under your shower drain to perform the same tasks. A sewage-like odor points to a dry P-trap. Water may evaporate if the shower remains unused for long periods, such as during an extended family vacation. The solution? Open the shower for a bit and let water drain into the P-trap.

If it doesn’t work, you are dealing with a different problem. It may be a dirty P-trap emitting the scent because of grime build-up. Although unpleasant, it is not as bad as sewage. Clean it by pouring a half cup each of baking soda and white vinegar. Wait for 30 minutes for the chemical reaction to work. A broken or blocked vent stack could also create issues with the drain. Ask a plumber to conduct an inspection and perform the necessary repairs.

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A Clogged Drain

image of a homeowner holding hair from clogged shower drain

Shower drains often clog up. You may not notice it, but tiny obstructions go in there every day, like hair strands, soap scum, mineral deposits, sand, dirt, and small objects. This potent combination blocks the pipes over time. Stagnant water may develop unpleasant odors. Clear the drain to solve the problem.

This is easier said than done. Homeowners don’t have the tools to unclog drains. They might straighten a wire hanger to poke inside, but it will only work with superficial blockage. Some pull the clog by hand if they can reach it. Others take a plunger to draw the mass closer to the surface. If it doesn’t budge, they pour hot water to dislodge it. Commercial drain cleaners are also popular, but their harsh chemicals may damage the pipes with repeated use.

Deep clogs require a long, flexible drain snake to curve through the pipes. Skilled plumbers use this tool to achieve a high success rate without damaging the system. It is the fastest route to relief.

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Biofilm Build-up

Biofilm is a thin slimy substance that forms on shower surfaces. It may be pink, orange, or another color. It is a colony of bacteria and waste, which can compromise your health. They can cause urinary tract issues and infect open wounds. Individuals with weak immune systems may succumb to respiratory problems. Biofilm also stinks, and its scent is akin to mildew.

Clean the biofilm in your shower to get rid of the odor. The first step is to use a brush to break it up and wipe it away. Removing the visible part is only the beginning, with some of the bacteria remaining on the surfaces. Hence, the second step is to spray the affected areas with a chemical disinfectant. Any cleaning product in your house will do.

Remember that biofilm is persistent, so you must make it a weekly habit. Brush the walls and the floor of your shower. Don’t forget the drain. Remove the cover to expose the interior. Soak a paint roller cover in a cleaning solution and push it down the drain to brush the drain walls. Turn it clockwise and counterclockwise to break the biofilm. Pull it out and rinse. Repeat the process until it comes out clean.

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Leaky Pipes

Shower smells are not always easy to get rid of. If leaky pipes are triggering the problem, homeowners may need professional help. Damaged drain pipes let sewer gasses escape, like hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs. In new homes, loose PVC pipe fittings could be the culprits. Plumbers can make corrections to the poor installation. In old homes, decades of corrosion in metal pipes may create holes. The problem will only worsen with time, so plumbers usually recommend pipe replacement.

Drain leaks may also be the accidental side effect of frequent clogs. Homeowners who use harsh chemicals to remove the blockage may damage the pipes in the process. In most cases, the plumbing system is already suffering from corrosion, and the chemicals hasten the deterioration of the pipe walls.

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When to Call a Professional Plumber

People can try simple solutions to remove foul odors, but these may not work all the time. It is important to accept our limits and call a professional when the situation demands it. Plumbers are particularly helpful when it comes to leaky pipes. You can also ask them to deal with clogged drains and persistent smells.

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Showers should make you feel clean and calm, but foul odors have the opposite effect. Use this guide to tackle the typical sources of the offending scent. The solutions described above are effective in many situations. If the odor persists, you have a deeper issue that requires professional attention. Do not hesitate to call a plumber for assistance.

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Contact Robinson Plumbing, one of the most trusted plumbing companies in the Lehigh Valley, for reliable plumbing services. We offer various plumbing services ranging from drain clogs, water heater replacements, toilet repairs, water leaks, and more. For any plumbing repairs, we always give a wide range of solutions when possible. This allows you to choose the best options for your home and budget.

Find yourself dealing with an unexpected plumbing problem in the middle of the night? No worries! You can count on the expert plumbers at Robinson Plumbing to take care of you. We offer reliable 24-hour emergency plumbing services. You can count on us to get the job done quickly and correctly and, best of all, at an affordable price.

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