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Why do I Have Stinky Drains and Smelly Water?

If you’ve ever experienced smelly water or stinky drains in your home, you know how unpleasant and disruptive it can be. Chances this common problem is being caused by one of four problems that we’ll list below.

In all cases, it is fairly easy to identify what the cause is. Some solutions require an easy fix, and some require the support of your neighborhood plumber. Which ones are DIY? Read on.

It Might be the Sewer Line

As a first test, walk around your home and see if you can sense a musty odor in multiple locations. If it is confined to a single drain or two, it is probably the fixture or drain in question.

If it is everywhere, you need to consider that you’ve got a problem with your sewer line. If the sewer line is damaged, musty odors will make their way up your drains.

This is a situation in which you’ll want to call for professional help. If your sewer line is compromised, your home could be at risk for flooding if it ruptures.

Check out Your P-Trap

Look at the piping under your sink and see if you can guess where the P-trap is (hint: it is the p-shaped bend attached to the piping).

It serves dual purposes: to catch debris before to prevent clogs and to prevent smelly sewer gases from flowing into your home.

The P-trap needs to be filled with water for this to work.

If the trap is dry (because of underuse of the sink or if the seal is leaking), there is nothing preventing the gases from coming inside your home.

You can probably fix this by running the water and refilling the trap. If the seal is broken, you’ll need to get it fixed.


Water Heater?

Your water heater is warm and moist, which is the perfect place for bacteria to grow.

An overabundance of bacteria in the water can cause it to smell when it reacts with the anode rod (which is in place to keep the tank from rusting).

Replacing the anode rod should work, which is a relatively easy job.


If you’ve got food debris in your kitchen accumulating in your pipes, an unpleasant odor will be created as it decomposes.

A handy home remedy is to sprinkle the drain with baking soda followed by a good dose of white vinegar.

This concoction will foam, dislodging the clog and cleaning the drain. Vinegar is also good at neutralizing smells.

If this is a chronic problem, consider getting regular drain cleaning done as a preventative measure.

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