Best Practices for Dealing with Floor Drain Odors

Floor drains are invaluable in low-lying areas that are susceptible to flooding. While they provide much-needed drainage for basements, laundry rooms, and showers, they can nonetheless emit a foul smell from time to time. What causes floor drains to stink and what can you do about it? The following information will help you resolve this issue.

How Floor Drains Work

To understand why floor drains smell, it’s important to know a little bit about how they work. Sitting directly underneath your floor drain is a u-shaped “p” trap. This trap is designed to hold water so that sewer gases cannot come through your plumbing and into a room.

Along one end of the pipe bend sits a cleanout plug. A cleanout plug makes it harder for mud, debris, or dirt that might enter your floor drain from going further down into your pipes. It too serves as a barrier against sewer gas coming up through the floor drain.

At the end of your p-trap is several feet of pipe. Over time, the pipe can become clogged with hair, dirt, or other fine particles that will then build up inside your pipes. When this happens, your pipes will need to be cleaned out just like any other plumbing line would.

Adding Water to Eliminate Odor

If the p-trap is dry, this leaves an avenue for sewer gas to enter. The remedy is often simple-just pour a gallon or so of water back down the drain to fill the p-trap and recreate the barrier. If you notice insects coming up through your drain, add about a half cup or so of white vinegar to kill their larvae.

You may even add a bit of baking soda to help combat any odors. However, you should not use bleach or any other harsh chemical. Not only could the fumes be hazardous, but you might also splash hazardous liquid into your eyes while pouring it.

If your floor drain doesn’t get used often, you are more prone to having an odor problem. To counteract this, periodically add a half-gallon or so of water to maintain the barrier inside your p-trap. Most people who take proactive measures such as this never have to worry with floor drain odors again.

Check the Condition of your Cleanout Plug

If pouring water down the drain does not cure your problem, the next step would be to check your cleanout plug. Remove the top grate and ensure there is one sitting on top of your drain bowl. Check to see that it is in good condition and not cracked or broken.

If your plug is missing or damaged, buy a new one at a hardware or plumbing supply store and replace it. These plugs come in standard sizes, so you do not need any specific measurements. They are also a very easy DIY fix that anyone can perform without any special skills or tools.

That Didn’t Help-Now What?

After trying the above remedies, you may find your drain still emits a foul smell. What that means is that you probably have a more serious problem on your hands. Some things that could be causing this include:

  • A clogged sewer line
  • Broken or cracked pipes
  • Sewer lines that have backed up into your basement
  • Leaks coming from pipes inside your wall, floor, or ceiling

Any of these require professional assistance from a St. Paul drain cleaning expert. At SOS Drain and Sewer, we regularly handle smelly floor drains and can get to the bottom of your problem quickly. We’ll take care of the issue so you no longer have to be annoyed or embarrassed by it. Keep your floor drain working its best-contact us to schedule an appointment today.