Shower Drain Odor

36 responses

  1. Marie
    April 23, 2012

    I am getting a musty order in my shower. The odor goes away once I run the shower, but returns in the morning. The contractor said it is coming from he drain. I cannot remover the strainer to pour in soap and water as it is sealed. I used washing soda and hot water. It helped but the smell does return. I appreciate any suggestions. Thank you.

    • Tim Carter
      May 23, 2012


      You need my Stain Solver. But to use it correctly, you must pry up the strainer. You mix up some Stain Solver solution, pour it in the drain, then use a bottle brush on the sides of the pipe. Then RINSE with the rest of the Stain Solver solution.

  2. Stephanie
    July 2, 2012

    Hi, I just had my shower re-done, all new walls, tile, floor pan, everything. I have not used the shower yet as we are still waiting for the door, however, in these last couple of days I have a definate sewer smell coming from the drain. This smell has NEVER been present before. I have an appointment with the contractor and would like to go in armed with just a bit of knowledge. I have flushed the drain with some water, but it still smells. Any thoughts would be appeareaciated, I have read these threads, there should be no "biofilm"everything is new! thanks!!

    • Tim Carter
      January 11, 2013

      Stephanie, you need to schedule a 15-Minute call with me. There's simply too much to talk about and type.

    • Jed
      June 30, 2015

      Hi, I know this comment is quite old, but we are having the 'exact' same issue. New walls, tile, shower drain, shower pan, waiting for shower glass. Sewage odor seems to be coming up the drain every day, mostly in the afternoon. Did you get a solution to your issue?

      I have inspected under the house an do not see any leakage. Any inputs are appreciated. Thanks.

    • Romy
      March 10, 2016

      Hi Stephanie.
      I have the exact same problem - just redid my shower - new floors, new walls, new everything. Did you get a reply from Tim? I know it was a long time ago but I would appreciate any help as the smell is so bad!
      Thanks so much!

  3. Sddita izquierdo
    June 27, 2014

    I just rent a house ,the drains looks grows green black ,white more black. looks like is eating the pipes . Locks very bad ... Can it be clean worry for my mom she is 75 . Just got the keys of the house. Thanks.

  4. anna
    November 20, 2014

    Maybe they had a cracked or corroded (if metal) shower p-trap ? That would certainly cause all the smells

    • Tim Carter
      November 20, 2014

      If the p-trap was cracked the water seal would leak out and you bet sewer gas could come into the house.

  5. Brooke Swensen
    November 24, 2014

    My parents bought a home a few months ago.and all.of a sudden there shower drain smells like cigarette smoke. Neither of them smoke and there house has never been smoked in. The rest of the house smells fine. what can we do or what is causing the smell.
    please let us know so we can fix the problem. Now you can smell it as you walk in there room

    • Tim Carter
      November 25, 2014

      Read my column again and follow the instructions. Get rid of the biofilm that's on the sides of the pipe that leads down to the p-trap.

  6. Jose m
    January 16, 2015

    I just recently unclogged my shower drain by using a hair removal liquid. This is when I started noticing the sewer smell. Is this type of liquid strong enough to burn through a metal P-trap.

    • Tim Carter
      January 16, 2015

      Not usually. The odor is from something else.

  7. Amber
    February 11, 2015

    I live in a ground floor flat where a bath has been replaced with a wetroom shower. There has been an awful smell coming from the bathroom and stinking out the hallway so we removed the drainer from the floor to clean it and realised it goes straight down 2ft to the sewer, should the shower be hooked up like this and can sewer gases be harmful as the smell isn't going away? Thanks

    • Tim Carter
      February 11, 2015

      Does it go 2 feet down to a TRAP? Do you see water at the bottom of the pipe?

  8. Amber
    February 12, 2015

    Yes can see the water flowing past at the bottom but I'm clueless as to what a TRAP is haha

    • Paul
      March 18, 2015

      Amber, a plumbing trap is a curved pipe that holds water in it to prevent gases from coming up from the sewer. You can easily see one under your kitchen and bathroom sinks. Wikipedia has some pictures:

      If you can see water FLOWING, that doesn't sound right. But I suspect you have a pipe that's 2 feet and goes to a trap and then connected to the sewer after the trap.

      Use a flashlight and look down your shower pipe. Is there gross slime growing on the sides of the pipe? If so, that's probably where your smell is coming from. Get a long handled brush and scrub that slime off, then pour some OXYGEN bleach down (making sure it runs down the sides of the pipe) and let it sit overnight. You might have to repeat this periodically.

  9. simple
    February 24, 2015

    Had the same smell after cleaning drain. Most people overlook this, but a plumber helped me: It could be from the over flow valve which doesn't get treated from pouring down drain.

    Solve by filling/over filling bathtub and let soap/cleaner+ water pour through overflow. Voila!

  10. EDDIE
    April 21, 2015

    I have an musty odor coming from all my drains & toilets in my 1-/12 story house. This has been going on for 6 months now.
    I have tried bleach & peroxide and it works temporarily but the smell comes back when the water hits the drain. We've had the water tested and the smell it not coming from the water, hot or cold. I have called a plumber and he suggested replacing the hot water anode rod, but the water smell is fine.
    Any suggestions? Thanks.

  11. Paul
    April 29, 2015

    Hi, guys, great article. I can't figure out my issue. The sewer smell is coming up through shower trap in the ensuite but when I pour a bucket of water down it, it flows straight through and none is trapped. There is no leak anywhere and the laundry trough drains have water in their traps...the same smell has been in the laundry which is on the other side of the wall to the ensuite. So, I want to ask the question, if one of the traps is dry, will that cause the water in a nearby trap to flow straight through? If not, what else can I check, please? Additionally, we used the ensuite spa bath for the first time in a few years last week but I am thinking that's a coincidence. Cheers

  12. Brandi
    May 2, 2015

    I have a walk-in shower in a new structure I've lived in for three years. I clean the walk-in religiously, but it just smells and there is mold(sometimes black, sometimes pinkish) growing up top on the untitled, painted area.

  13. linda
    July 5, 2015

    I get an odor several hours aprox. 8 to 12 after water goes down drain, it is in the air and lasts several days.Drains don't really smell.Have had several people check house septic, roots etc. Could this be a leaking drain pipe? I'm now getting some signs of mold,not black.i go for several days without using drain.When I use it again, the same thing happens. I'm hope it is the pipe leak not the vent or drain under shower in basement.Is it possible to have drain leak for three years?I hate to open walls if this not possible. Thanks for your opinion!

  14. rose
    July 30, 2015

    I have a very strong ammonia smell coming from the shower. We removed our tubs and replaced with walk in showers a couple of years ago. The smell is terrible. I think it's making me feel sick. It almost smells like cat urine or perm for the hair. What can I do? And is this dangerous to my health? Thank you

  15. Christine
    August 1, 2015

    OMG! I had a moldy smell coming out of my shower drain and could not get rid of it. Thank you so much! I popped up the strainer (easy) and the smell nearly knocked me over. The bottom of the strainer was loaded with black mold. Then I looked around the top of the pipe where the drain sits and there is a rim where water sits more black smelly mold. Then looked down the pipe and the whole pipe on the insides was black. I thought they were supposed to be white. So I took some bleach and poured it directly on the drain and in the drain. Guess what. I had a white pipe again. I cannot believe that this black mold gunk sits on the inside of the pipe. Gross. So does this mean the whole pipe is like this? Super gross. My house is only ten years old. I scrubbed the strainer, drain and inside of the pipe and now it is virtually white and strainer silver again. Can't wait to see if the problem goes away because all I can smell now is bleach. Why does the gunk build up on the sides of the pipe when water is running down it daily? Doesn't make much sense to me. Anyway, I guess it is something that I will have to keep an eye on. It is not happening in the bathtub drains, just the shower drain. Thank you Thank you!!! I didn't even know that strainer could pop right up.

  16. Candy
    August 14, 2015

    I have a horrible smell coming from a shower drain.there is a greenish film and things moving around in it any idea how to solve me problem

  17. Jen
    November 29, 2015

    We have a upstairs bathroom tub and upstairs kitchen sink that smells like rotten eggs mainly when the dishwasher or washing machine is running or if you take a longer shower.. What should we do in this case?

    • Rich
      August 8, 2016

      how old is your water heater? corroded anodes can cause this. Try flushing water heater.

  18. Jeff
    July 3, 2016

    Recently moved into a new home in Philippines, check shower drain, looks like no P-trap installed, slab floor , is there anyway to install something without ripping up the tile and concrete?

  19. Andrew
    July 10, 2016

    After reading and trying all of this, I still had a foul smell coming up from my shower drain. I took one suggestion a little further and probed my sub-drain of the shower pan with a bottle brush that I bent 90 degrees. Whola! I loosened a lot of buildup and released a cup or two of trapped water that was clearly building up mold and mildew and giving off the smelly spores.

    I probed all the way around the subdrain to get it all draining freely, and to clean it out. I will keep the brush for future use (no more use on my beer bottles!).

    If you have a two-piece drain (most showers should; tubs will not) give this a try before you give up.

  20. Austin
    July 18, 2016

    I just had a remodel done on my home. Most of the plumbing runs under the concrete slab. I had a tub ripped out and a large stand up shower built. ( Expensive stone on the floor of shower and glass tile up the wall) I removed the strainer and also after a little investigation I have come to realise that my new shower does NOT have a p trap. Thus I have an incredibly strong odor of sewer gas coming up through the drain. It is large stone so it's not like I can just pop up a couple tiles and properly install a p trap. ( Which I'm very capable of) I realise u need a p trap. Period. And that would fix my problem. And the builders excuse is there was no room for a p trap now that there is no tub and it's a walk in shower. I seen the small area the p trap should have been installed in and they aren't lying there was no room but that's only because they were lazy and did not want to jack hammer out room in the slab. (I of course wasn't aware the p trap wasn't Installed until my recent detective work.) But to get to my point do they sell any sort of baffle or any thing of the sort that I can install in the floor drain to keep the same gas from constantly coming in without having to tear up my new beautiful shower floor which would be extremely costly? I'm really hoping there is an alternative. Help?

    • Brandy
      August 3, 2016

      Having sewer gas coming into your home is a major health concern. I would think the city code requires a trap, so check into that. Your builder clearly took shortcuts. Keep records of all conversations, and record them if you can. I would even go so far as to download a call recorder, call the builder, and ask them to just explain it to you again, so that you can get their excuse on tape. (Only do this if it is legal to record phone calls in your state.) During the call, explain to them that this problem is unacceptable and you would like them to come in and redo the work correctly. If they refuse after that, draft up a formal letter to them requesting that they come in and redo the work at their expense, and also state that if they still refuse you will be calling your attorney and taking them to court for a settlement. Fixing this should not be optional.

  21. katrenco
    July 25, 2016

    We have the same problem in our kitchen sink drain, the only drain in the house that does this. The best, easiest and least expensive way I've found to handle this is to clean the drain about every 2 to 3 weeks with the following. (Interval between cleanings will vary, depending on how fast the stinky film builds up in your drain. Also note, we have PVC drains, and I do not have any experience using this solution in drains of other materials.) First, pour baking soda into the drain. You may have to kind of "push it" past the sectioned drain opening to get it in. We have a double sink in the kitchen, so I usually start with 1/4 cup of baking soda, split evening between the two sinks. Once you've got the baking soda in as best you can, carefully and slowly pour vinegar into the drain, approximately 1/2 to 2/3 cup, not too much, though. You want the solution to stay/sit in the U-shaped trap under the sink and not wash out. (I use Apple Cider vinegar because it's less expensive than White Vinegar.) The soda will bubble up when you pour in the vinegar. This is good, this is what will clean the slime off the pipes. Leave the solution stand for anywhere from 1/2 hr to overnight, depending on how thick the biofilm is. (Also, you may need to use more soda and vinegar the first time you do this if the film is quite thick. Once you get the initial film cleaned off, it will be much easier, take less ingredients and less time to keep it clean if you perform this process on a regular schedule.) After waiting the appropriate amount of time, heat as much water to boiling as you can. I have two 2-gallon kettles that I use, for a total of about 3 gals of boiling water. Bring the water to boiling and pour into the drain to flush clean. Run hot tap water after the boiling water to complete the flush. Viola! Your drain should be clean and odor free (may have a slight vinegar smell at first, but that will disappear quickly.) If the odor persists, repeat the process as many times as necessary to get the drain pipes clean. (You can add sea salt or kosher salt to the mix to help "cut" a thick film the first time AND to clean slow-running drains. Use the same process with the salt mixed into the baking soda.) I had a handy little brush that I'd had laying around for years, never knew what it was for, had never used it until I discovered how well it worked for cleaning the slime off the sides of the drain pipe the first time. It has a long wire handle, taper-shaped, medium-soft bristles; some kind of bottle brush, I think. It's handle is long enough, about 8-9 inches, and flexible enough, and the brush itself is small enough for me to get it between the drain opening sections to brush the pipe as far as the handle reaches. Because I do this regularly now, I don't need to use the brush anymore. I buy baking soda from Amazon, in large boxes, and vinegar in gallons to have on hand just for cleaning this drain. The cheaper prices of the larger sizes makes this a very economical solution to the problem!) Again, this is a persistent issue for us with this particular sink drain, so this has become a routine procedure to keep my kitchen sink clean and fresh! I hope someone else finds it useful for their stinky drain problem.

  22. Dave
    January 11, 2017

    Try to see if your roof vent pipe is clogged. If so there may be a nest or dead animal not letting the smells vent.

  23. Sandra Thompson
    February 9, 2017

    Glad I joined your e-mail for advice!

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