How to Get Rid of a Sewer Smell From the Sink

Written by casey kennedy
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A clean sink can add a special touch to the kitchen or bathroom, but when it has a bad odour, no amount of scrubbing or polishing is going to help. When the sink has a sewer smell it often means something is wrong with the plumbing or vent system and to get rid of the odour you will have to fix the problem that is causing it. Fortunately, it isn't too hard to get rid of a sewer smell in the sink and once you know a few things to try, you will be ready to get started.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Chlorine bleach
  • Toilet plunger (optional)
  • Detergent
  • Mineral oil (optional)

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  1. 1

    Run water into the drain. If a sink is not used very often, the water in the P-trap (a "P" shaped bend in the sink's drainage system) may evaporate. The water in the trap works as a barrier to keep the sewer gas smell from coming up the pipes and if the water dries up, the barrier is eliminated and gas can seep up through the drain to the sink.

  2. 2

    Remove the stopper from the drain. Often the smell coming from the sink isn't really from the sewer, but from hair, soap and debris trapped inside the drain instead. Use a small amount of bleach and hot water to get the sludge moving or try a toilet plunger if the sink has also become slow to drain when it empties.

  3. 3

    Pour detergent and hot water into the overflow (small openings near the rim of the sink). If a sink has too much water in it, the extra will go into the overflow and can become trapped inside the sink with debris, causing a smell. You can eliminate the odour by forcing the standing water to move out of the overflow chamber and down the drain.

  4. 4

    Check plumbing vents for blockage. Plumbing vents are located outside (normally found on the roof) and allow sewer gas to vent into the outside air instead of remaining in the house. If the vents become blocked with debris, gas can't escape outside and may come up through the pipes into the sink instead.

  5. 5

    Inspect for leaks and cracks. Small leaks in the plumbing system or vent lines can cause sewer gas to circumvent upward into the sink. Check around the P-trap and toilet base before expanding your search, since these are the most common areas for leaks and cracks to occur when a sewer smell is noticed.

Tips and warnings

  • If a sink will not be used for a period of time, run water down the drain, then add a small amount of mineral oil. Mineral oil takes a longer period of time to evaporate and will help keep the P-trap filled.

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