Shower Drain Smells Like Rotten Eggs: Why & What to Do

Stepping in the shower and experiencing the smell of rotten eggs is the worst thing that you can ever think about. You might not be able to enjoy your shower the way you would want. Also, your house can become inhabitable and can be very embarrassing if you have visitors in your home.

The rotten-egg shower smell is mostly brought about by bacteria that thrive in the drainage system and break down waste producing sulfur compounds that emit an unpleasant odor. Clogs in the drain, dirt p-trap, contaminated water, and sewer line issues can also result in this smell.
Following are details on the causes, how to get rid of and prevent this smell.

Why does my Shower Drain Smell like Rotten Eggs?

Sometimes, you might clean the bathroom floor and the walls, which are prone to dirt, but still, there is a pungent smell from the drain. If there is a pungent smell even after cleaning the bathroom, the drain is to blame.

Shower drain
Shower drain

The rotten egg smell is usually from a gas known as hydrogen sulfide. It is worth noting that this gas is formed when bacteria grow in the drains or the sewerage system of your home. Sometimes, it might be due to contaminated water, among other causes. It is important that you investigate the root cause of this problem so that you can mitigate it. The following are some of the causes of this problem:

1. Clogged drains

One of the leading causes of this smell is clogged drains. Therefore, it is important that you consider this as a possibility when you notice an odor coming from your shower drain. If the drain is clogged, shower water will be draining slowly. Sometimes, it might not drain at all.

If you notice this in your bathroom, then you should know that your drains have clogged. The bad news is that clogged drains cause unpleasant odors as they usually trap grime and therefore does not allow water to drain well.

Some of the causes of clogged drains include hair, mineral deposits, soap scum, dirt, sand, small items or debris, and so forth. In most cases, the clog will be as a result of a combination of the above items. Here, soap scum can bind with hair and cause a more obstruction in your drains. This might make your drains have an odor in the long run.

2. Dry or dirty P-trap

If your shower drains smell like a sewer, chances are that your P-trap is not working effectively. However, what is a P-trap? This is a U-shaped section of the pipe that dips down below the rest of the shower drain line before connecting to your main stack. Ideally, the P-trap should hold enough water at all times to keep gases from the sewer line from escaping through your shower and sink drains.

If you begin to smell the rotten-egg odor from your drains, then the P-trap is not holding water as it should. Sometimes, it might even evaporate if you hardly use your shower. In this case, it would be advisable that you run the water for a few minutes.

Besides being dry, the P-Trap can get dirty as a result of dirt, grime, and other substances. Therefore, you should consider cleaning it to mitigate this problem. Also, the vent stack could be broken or blocked, thereby creating a vacuum that empties out your p-Trap.

3. Biofilm Buildup

Sometimes, biofilm can build up on your shower and inside your shower drain. This can lead to musty, pleasant odors. Biofilm is basically slime or muck. Other times, you might mistake it for mold. However, this is a substance that forms from a dynamic colony of bacteria and bacteria waste.

When this bacteria is held together by a glue-like substance that feels slimy to touch. Besides being slimy, this substance clings on surfaces such as showers, birdbaths, and so on. It can be likened to plaque that forms on your teeth.

Since there are many types of bacteria out there, there are several types of biofilms that might be present in your shower. One common type that might be present in your shower drains is pink mold. This biofilm usually contains a bacteria known as Serratia marcescens, commonly known as S. marcescens. It is normally pinkish or orange in color.

4. Leaky pipes

Apart from the above three mentioned problems, your shower drains can have the smell of rotten eggs as a result of leaking pipes. Leaking pipes in your bathroom walls or under the shower can allow sewer gases to escape. When hydrogen sulfide escapes, you might notice that the shower drains will have this pungent smell.

One of the things that can lead to these leakages is either perforation in pipes or loose-fitting between runs of piping. For instance, corrosion of metal pipes in your home can lead to this problem.

Sometimes, poor installation can also lead to this problem as there will be loose-fitting in your pipes. Ideally, the sewer pipes should be airtight all the time. If there is loose-fitting, there will be a pungent smell in your shower drains.

Clogs can also make your pipes start leaking. This is usually the case if the clog includes a harsh cleaning product or a corrosive substance that allows these substances to remain in your pipe and eat through it. In most cases, perforation as a result of clogs usually takes place when the strength of your pipe’s wall is compromised due to long-term corrosion.

Apart from corrosion of the metal pipes, plastic sewerage pipes can be eaten by rodents, and this can make them start leaking. To solve this problem, you should consider conducting routine check ti ensure that your pipes remain in pristine condition all the time.

Also, do not rule out the possibility of dead animals inside the pipes. These include rodents, birds, and other small animals that might find their way into your drainage system. When these creatures die, they might cause blockage in your pipes and lead to such awful smells.

5. An old toilet wax ring

This ring typically keeps sewer gases at bay all the time. However, when it wears out, there might be a bad smell in the shower.

Apart from this, if the vent pipe is short, the sewer smell will find its way to your home. Sometimes, it might be an unpleasant odor coming from another part of the house, and it can diffuse into your shower area.

6. Mold

The shower drain is always damp most of the time. Such wet conditions are ideal for the growth of microorganisms, such as fungi and bacteria. If mold grows inside your shower drain, it can cause a musty stink.

If this smell combines with other odors from the plumbing system, it might make the shower drain to smell like rotten eggs. It is worth noting that certain types of fungi break down soap scum into sulfur compounds. One of these compounds is hydrogen sulfide gas, which makes the shower drain have a rotten-egg smell.

7. Water contamination

Sometimes, raw sewage can seep into the pipes of your house. One way to determine this is to have the water tested by a plumber. As the water gets tested, you should consider checking the sulfate levels in the water. This is because high sulfate levels will give off a rotten egg stench. Your professional of choice will tell more about the composition of the water in your home and maybe give you an explanation for the smell in your shower drains.

If you notice that your water supply is high in sulfur, the water heater can also create a rotten egg smell in the shower. It is worth noting that some hot showers usually use magnesium rod to reduce any corrosion from taking place inside the water heater. This helps to extend the life span of the heater. However, when sulfates present in the water combines with magnesium, it can result in a chemical reaction and thereby create a gas that smells like rotten eggs.

8. Sewer line issues

A sewer line blockage or damage can cause sewer gases to back up into your home, leading to a strong odor.

How to Get Rid of the Rotten Egg Smell in the Shower Drain

If your shower drains smell like rotten eggs, there are many steps that can help you mitigate this situation.

1. Hot Water

After cleaning the drain, run hot water down the drain for several minutes. Hot water can help flush out any remaining debris and bacteria that may be contributing to the odor.

Hot water will also dissolve all the soap that might be on your shower drains and wash it down the drains. Since soap has sulfur compounds, you can trust that the smell will fade away over time.

2. Use a plunger to unclog the drains.

If you want to get rid of the nasty rotten egg smell in your shower drain, cleaning it is one of the first options that you should consider. In this case, you can consider using a plunger to clean the shower drain. However, this will depend on the nature of the pipe blockage and where the drain is clogged.

If you notice that the clog is deep, you can consider adding some petroleum jelly to the edges of the plunger so that you can get a better seal. After placing the plunger over the drain cover, fill the shower with a hot shower to submerge the end of the plunger. After that, you can plunge the shower drain vigorously to unclog it. Apart from this, you can try using baking soda and vinegar

Vinegar can also help you unclog your shower drains. If you combine vinegar and baking soda, you will not only clear the clogged drain but also disinfect and deodorize the drainage pipe too. This powerful combo will also remove all sorts of stains in your shower area or bathroom. This combination has proved to be very effective in preventing mold growth in the shower drain too.

3. Clear the plumbing vents

There are instances when you can have a strong smell of sulfur in the shower after using the washing machine or even flushing the toilet. One reason for this could be that the plumbing vents are blocked.

If these pipes are blocked, it causes suction from the flowing water through the pipes that can empty the p-trap. To mitigate this problem, you should clear debris from the roof vent. If you notice that ice has blocked the roof vent, you can use a hairdryer to melt the ice blockage.

Recommended Reading: Signs of Clogged Vents

4. Check and Clean the drain

Use a drain cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to clean the shower drain. This can help break down any organic matter that may be causing the odor.

5. Use an odor neutralizer

There are products specifically designed to eliminate sewer odors. Look for an odor neutralizer that’s safe for use in showers and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

6. Hire a plumber

Sometimes, all the above methods might fail to work. If this happens, you should not hesitate to contact a licensed plumber.

This expert will check the sewer line and even inspect the p-trap to ensure that it is working well or at least recommend the best course of action to eliminate the smell

Prevention Tips

Following are some tips that can help prevent the smell in the future.

Ensure that the garbage disposal is clean

If you have a garbage disposal in your home, you should run it regularly. This is because after months of regular use, the garbage disposal unit can begin to incur smelly bacterial and food particles logged deep within those hard-to-reach places.

Sometimes, if these items find their way to the drains, it might start smelling. The good news is that cleaning it can help mitigate this situation. When cleaning this unit, you should use a garbage disposal cleaner or even some ice cubes to keep the blades clean. In addition, you can consider adding lemon wedges to reduce or even eliminate the smell.

Always keep your bathroom clean

By cleaning your bathroom often, you will be able to get rid of soap scums, hair and other debris that might find their way to your shower drains and form a clog. The aftermath of this is that your drains will start smelling like rotten eggs. However, if you are fond of cleaning it regularly, you will be able to mitigate this issue on the go.

Further Reading: Toilet & Bathroom Odor

Other Shower Drain Issues and Fixes

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