DeVictoria Plumbing and Heating Massapequa Park

DeVictoria Plumbing and Heating Massapequa Park

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How to Fix a Smelly Drain

Newsday Explore LI, July 2nd 2010

Bad odors are common when plumbing hasn't been used for a while. Anthony DeVictoria, owner of DeVictoria Plumbing in Massapequa, says sometimes all it takes is to let the water run and fill the trap that is in every drain. Why? When not in use, the water inside the trap evaporates and gases can enter the home via the drain. If that doesn't work, her are some other places to look and things to try:

Check the house's main house trap.

"It's usually located in the basement or a pit in the front yard," he says. It keeps methane gas from the street from coming into your house. If it dries out or is damaged, you could even get the smell of your neighbor's waste, DeVictoria warns. Keep the trap primed with water.

Make sure the cap on the main house trap is not loose.

DeVictoria warns: "Sometimes the caps . . . are not installed properly or are just old. This can create an opening between the sewer line and the inside of your house. And, on a windy day you may get the stench of your neighbor's waste through the pipes."

Photo credit: Photo illustration / Monica Washington | Need to get rid of a stinky drain? Follow these simple steps.


Where's your fresh air vent?

Usually this is a metal plate with holes located on the side of your house or on the ground. This vent is just for the sewer line of the house. "Homeowners can mistakenly bury the fresh air vent by covering it with landscaping, concrete work or flooring," DeVictoria says.

Flush bathroom sinks with hot water for a minute or two.

"Let water go up to the overflow hole to clean out this passage," DeVictoria says. "Because this top opening is not used often, it has a tendency to build up with food particles, debris, oils from skin and hair and household products."

Do you have a garbage disposal?

Flush it with water after each use.

What you can use:

Mix one teaspoon of chlorine bleach with one quart of water and allow it to run down the drain to kill odor-causing bacteria. Or use baking soda and vinegar, which are natural cleaning products, against bacteria, DeVictoria says. "Pour one gallon of boiling water slowly down the drain," he says. "This will flush the drain and loosen any growth or bacteria. Then sprinkle one cup of baking soda into the drain and let it sit for 30 minutes. Baking soda absorbs odors. Then slowly add three cups of white vinegar down the drain." Leave the vinegar and baking soda in the drain until you shower or use the sink again. One more option is yeast. "Simply sprinkle a package of Fleischman's yeast down the problem drain before bedtime," says Robert Sottilare president of Draino Sewer Cleaning based in Merrick. "Run water for about 10 seconds. Let it sit overnight. The yeast and water create a chemical reaction that can zap smells."

Could it be a dead animal?

If an odor persists, don't rule out a dead animal in the house. "I can't tell you how many times I've found a dead mouse in a kitchen cabinet that people think is a smell coming from a pipe," DeVictoria says.

Is the stack or roof vent blocked?

A plumber can make sure the roof vent (located on your roof next to the chimney and connected to all drains) is open and working properly. Sottilare says: "Sometimes it may be clogged because of a bird's nest or an animal trapped inside the vent."

Do you use your dishwasher?

"If you don't, there's always water left that starts to stagnate and smell and can make you think you have an odor problem from the drain," DeVictoria says.

Mold could be the culprit

"Be sure to rule out mold that can be on walls or in a crawl space from an old leak," DeVictoria says.


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