When you take a shower, you want everything to smell fresh. The last thing you need is a sewer smell from the shower drain making it impossible to feel clean and turning your bathroom into a perpetually stinky environment.

Gross, noxious odors from shower drains are actually a super common problem. Are they nasty? You bet they are! But there’s always a way to solve the problem and get your drain functioning (and smelling) the way it’s supposed to.

Here’s how to assess and ultimately stop the disgusting sewer smell emanating from your bath or shower drain.

1. Identify the source of a sewer smell from the shower drain

You know it hasn’t always been this way. Before your drain started stinking, you probably basked beneath the glorious hot water in a shower that smelled as pure and fresh as the finest spa.

But now it just smells like a porta-potty. Something is causing the smell, but you’ve got to figure out what it is.

Out in the wild, we encounter four different causes for sewage odors coming from bath drains:

  • Clogs in the drain line
  • Dry P-trap under the shower
  • Biofilm in the drainpipe
  • Leaky pipes

Clogs are the most common source and, honestly, biofilm happens to everyone after enough time goes by. A dry p-trap can be a little trickier to deal with. And if you’ve got a pipe that’s leaking somewhere further down the drain line, you might have a bigger problem than just a stinky shower drain.

2. If you’ve got a clog in the shower drain, do this:

Over time, the stuff that washes down your drain can accumulate. It can also start to stink, and it might smell like sewage to you. If you’ve got a stinky drain, there’s a good chance something nasty has built up down there. You’ll need to pull it out or bust it up.

If you don’t have a plumber’s snake or aren’t comfortable using one, a licensed plumber can help. PV comes prepared with all the tools and equipment needed to remove a clog from your shower drain.

If you’ve got a plumber’s snake that’s suitable for shower drains (don’t use the ones for sinks!), use it to pull out the hair, gunk, or whatever else is down there. If you think there’s something in the drain that you’d rather break up than pull out, use a plumber’s snake or an auger to pulverize it. Blockages that are made up of mostly hair should probably be pulled out, rather than broken up.

3. No clog? A dry P-trap will make your shower drain smell like sewage.

The whole point of a P-trap is to prevent sewer gas odors from entering your living space. Water sits in the P-trap, which is the U-shaped part of your drain line, and stops the odor from coming up through the drain. If you do smell sewage from the drain, it might mean the P-trap is dry. That’s not good.

This can happen when:

  • You don’t use the shower much and the water in the P-trap evaporates; or
  • You’ve got an issue with the P-trap, such as a leak

The first scenario is the easiest to fix! Just run water through the drain for a few seconds and fill the P-trap back up. Done!

The second issue is less common, but it’s something a licensed plumber can help you address. P-traps don’t usually have problems, but it’s possible that yours got knocked or that a leak somehow developed and led to water leaking out. If that’s what’s going on, a plumber can replace the P-trap.

4. Clean the biofilm in your drainpipe

Biofilm happens. It’s not the same thing as a clog, but it can still smell bad.

Ever seen that pink stuff that grows in your shower? Contrary to popular belief, that’s not mold. It’s biofilm. Though technically a different substance from mold, biofilm is teeming with bacteria and microbes As such, it has, well… a smell. And it can be pretty gross.

You can clean biofilm from your drain using DIY methods. Just spray an antibacterial cleaning product all over a paint roller and insert it in the drain. Keep moving it around in there until you’ve cleaned all the biofilm. Just don’t stick the roller too far down the drain, or you might end up with a clog after all!

We also keep a product on hand called Endure that’s great for cleaning biofilm out of drains! Ask about it the next time one of our technicians services your plumbing system.

5. If none of this stuff solves the problem, you might have a leaking pipe.

This one’s a lot tougher to deal with. Your plumbing system is designed to prevent noxious sewage odors from entering your living space. When there’s a leak somewhere in a drainpipe, it can throw off the equilibrium of the system that keeps sewer gasses where they should be.

At worst, a leaking pipe can also allow actual sewage to leak into your walls or crawlspace. We’re not saying that’s what’s going on just because you’ve got a sewage smell coming from the shower drain, but it’s still a possibility. Leaking pipes are a serious problem and can cause major damage if left unaddressed.

When none of the above fixes stop the smell, it’s time to call a plumber. A capable pro can find the leaking pipe, assess any damage it has caused, and fix the plumbing issue that led to the leak.

Does your shower drain smell terrible? We can make it smell normal again.

Sticky shower drains are super annoying. If you live in Metro Atlanta and can’t get your shower drain to stop smelling like the sewer, PV can help!

Just give us a call at (404) 282-2915 or fill out the form below to book an appointment!

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