What’s that smell?!

whats-that-smellFall is usually full of new smells in the air like apples, leaves falling from the trees and baked goodies.

But have you ever walked into a home or room and been assaulted by a bad smell?

Nothing will turn away visitors faster. There are dozens of everyday things can cause buildup and bad smells in and around a home that can be eliminated by using simple household items.

Musty Smell from Sink
If the sink is overfilled, water drains through the small overflow hole(s), through a passageway, and into a trap. Thick, smelly material can build up in the passageway causing an odor.

To clean this material mix a strong solution of detergent and very hot water. Pour it down the overflow. If the smell persists, try a mixture of bleach and water followed by thorough rinsing with water. If you are able to see sludge, loosen it with a stiff brush and rinse it away.

Smelly Garbage disposal
If your garbage disposal will not freshen up with the normal vinegar, cleaner, or baking soda treatment, the rubber cover may be dirty. Food and other particles can collect under the rubber flaps. This gunk stays damp and creates a strong stench. To get rid of it, turn off the disposal and use a stiff brush or rag to clean underneath the rubber flaps and rinse it away.

Sewer Smell in Home
When you detect a sewer smell in your home, there may be a dry trap in the drainage system. Often the smell comes from a floor drain in the basement.
All drains to a sewer system have a “P” shaped trap which is usually filled with water. The trap provides a seal to keep out sewer gas. If your basement floor drain is rarely used, water evaporates from the trap over time. Eventually the seal is eliminated, allowing sewer gas into your house. The solution is easy: pour water into the drain.

If the smell is noticeable try flushing a strong cleaner and bleach down the sink’s overflow. When the sink fills to near overflowing, water is routed through an inner chamber to the drain. Debris can collect inside the inner chamber, causing odor.

If neither of these measures solves the problem, there may be a small leak in one of the vent lines of the plumbing system, or a small leak around the base of a toilet or other fixture. You may need the help of a plumber.

Water Supply smell like rotten eggs
Some homeowners have recurring problems with bad odor in the water supply-especially the “rotten egg” smell of sulfur. Water odors are a tough problem to solve, but I suggest you follow up on these ideas.

First, check whether your neighbors are experiencing similar problems. If your water comes from a municipal well, maybe your local water utility can help.
It is relatively common to have this rotten egg odor in hot water only. In that case, the water heater’s “sacrificial” anode rod is the issue. This rod, made of magnesium, helps protect the tank lining from corrosion; instead, the rod itself corrodes. However, as it does, the magnesium gives off electrons that nourish sulfate reducing bacteria. Removing this rod may eliminate the problem.

If your home has its own well, the smell may be coming from the well system. There could be sulfate reducing bacteria in the water supply.

To eliminate sulfate reducing bacteria from the water heater, you need to raise the water temperature above 140F degrees for 8 hours. Bacteria die out at temperatures above 140F degrees. To safely follow this procedure, first make sure your water heater has a functioning temperature and pressure relief valve.

Also, to prevent accidental scalding, warn users that water will come out of faucets extremely hot and should not be used at the increased temperature.
Do you have a question regarding your existing or future home?  Send us an email at  scot.mclean3@gmail.com