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Common Plumbing Smells and How to Fix Them

April 13, 2024

Encountering foul odors in various parts of your home can be unpleasant and unsettling. Often, these odors originate from your plumbing system and can manifest as everything from a mildew scent in the sink to a persistent rotten egg smell in your laundry room. Understanding what causes these smells and how to address them is crucial for maintaining a fresh and welcoming home environment.

Common Plumbing Odors

1. Rotten Egg Smell in the House

One of the most common complaints is a sulfur or rotten egg smell in the house. This odor is typically caused by hydrogen sulfide gas escaping from your drains or contaminated water sources. To combat this, check for dry P-traps and ensure they contain water, which blocks the gas from entering your home. If the smell persists, it might be time to inspect your water heater or consider a water treatment solution.

2. Musty and Mildew Odors

Musty odors often occur when there is excess moisture that leads to mold and mildew growth. If your sink smells like mildew or you notice a musty smell under the bathroom sink with no leak, it’s likely due to lingering moisture and poor ventilation. Cleaning the affected area with vinegar or bleach solution can help eliminate the smell. Additionally, ensure good airflow to prevent future occurrences.

3. Foul Smells from Drains and Pipes

Why does my drain smell? Drains can emit foul odors due to a buildup of soap scum, food particles, and other debris. This is particularly common in kitchen sinks where the mixture of grease and organic matter can create a potent smell. Regular cleaning with baking soda and hot water can help maintain clear and odor-free drains. For persistent issues, consider enzymatic drain cleaners that break down the organic material causing the odors.

4. Washer and Bathroom Specific Issues

Laundry rooms and bathrooms are hotspots for peculiar smells. A rotten egg smell in the laundry room might indicate issues with your washing machine’s drain system. Regularly cleaning the machine and using appropriate cleaners can help mitigate this problem. Likewise, if your bathroom drain smells or if you detect a foul smell in the bathroom, checking and cleaning the P-trap and drain lines can often resolve the issue.

Handling Persistent Stinky Pipes

Stinky pipes can be a sign of larger plumbing issues, including leaks or sewer gas leaks. If smelly pipes persist despite your best cleaning efforts, it may be necessary to inspect the plumbing for deeper problems. Sometimes, replacing sections of piping or repairing seals can effectively eliminate the odors.

How to Remove Musty Smell from Bathroom Sink

If you’re grappling with a musty smell under the bathroom sink, begin by thoroughly cleaning the sink overflow. This area can harbor mold and debris, contributing to the overall musty odor. Use a pipe cleaner or small brush to clean out the overflow along with a bleach solution to kill any mold present.

Kitchen Challenges: Musty Sink Smells

The kitchen sink can also become a source of musty or mildew smells if not properly maintained. Ensure that the garbage disposal is clean and functioning correctly. Regularly running lemon peels, ice, and salt through the disposal can help clear out odor-causing residue and sharpen the blades.

Solutions for Specific Smells

  • Sulfur Smell: Installing a water filtration system can help if the water source is the issue.
  • Mildew Odor: Increase ventilation and use moisture absorbers.
  • P-trap Odors: Regular flushing with water and occasional cleaning with vinegar can help maintain a smell-free environment.
  • Foul Odors in General: Bi-annual plumbing inspections can catch issues before they become problematic.


Dealing with common plumbing smells is part and parcel of household maintenance, but you don’t have to tackle it alone. Whether it’s a persistent kitchen sink that smells musty or a more serious concern like smelly drains in the house, Lickety-Split is here to help. Our experienced professionals can diagnose and resolve any plumbing issues, ensuring your home remains pleasant and odor-free.

If you’re struggling with unexplained odors or recurrent plumbing problems, don’t hesitate to contact Lickety-Split for all your plumbing needs. A fresh, clean home is just a phone call away!


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