If onions, garlic, leeks, and other members of the allium family are mainstays in your kitchen, you may periodically notice a foul smell coming from the pipes in your sink -- even if you are always careful to rinse with hot water after placing food scraps down the garbage disposal. Unfortunately, these stubborn smells can be tough to eradicate, especially if there are one or more clogs well down the pipe. What can you do to eliminate this odor for good and prevent it from recurring? Read on to learn more about making your sink's pipes fresh again, as well as what you can do to protect your plumbing from oily or odorous food scraps.
What causes your sink pipes to smell?
Most of the things that go down your sink -- food scraps, dirt or mud, or other organic matter -- can be the ideal medium for bacteria growth. As oils and dirt stick to the sides of your pipes, they can create potentially expansive bacteria colonies, and the waste air emitted by this bacteria during its anaerobic growth process can be quite foul-smelling. This is especially true if the underlying foods have a relatively high level of sulfuric compounds, like onions and garlic do.
Foul sink odors can also be caused by larger clogs that are "catching" the bigger food scraps and other waste flushed from your sink's pipes. Clogs relatively close to the pipe's opening may be noticeable as soon as you walk into the room, while those that are located deeper within the pipe may only begin to smell after you've been running the hot water for a bit and things have started to back up. To test for a clog, run the tap for a few minutes to see if water eventually stops draining as quickly as it initially did.
Another culprit of stinky pipes can usually be found only in setups that don't have a P-trap (the J-shaped curve in the pipes just below your sink). Without this trap, which operates as a backflow limiter to prevent sewer gases from traveling back up your pipes and into your home, the smells you're noticing could be coming from your own septic tank.
Fortunately, regardless of the cause of your smelly pipes, this issue can often prompt you to take corrective action much sooner than other types of plumbing problems and help you avoid a more expensive repair.
What should you do to remove this foul odor from your pipes?
In most cases, you'll be able to clean and deodorize your pipes using nothing more than ordinary (and non-chemical) household cleansers like baking soda and vinegar. First, you'll want to carefully remove any debris from your sink and stopper. You'll then want to mix together equal parts of baking soda and vinegar into a bubbly paste, pouring this mixture down your drain to let it eat away at any grease or food residue.
While this mixture is percolating away, heat some water on the stove (or in the microwave) until it has nearly reached the boiling point, then use it to wash the baking soda-vinegar mixture down the drain. You should notice an improvement in smell immediately, even if you're not the biggest fan of vinegar. If there's still some underlying onion or garlic odor, repeat the process until you no longer notice any smell.
Is there anything else you should do to protect your plumbing?
Although onions, garlic, and shallots aren't particularly oily foods, they do contain enough oils to stick to the sides of your plumbing pipes and build up over time. After using your garbage disposal and washing down any food scraps, you may want to follow with a few shakes of baking soda or a splash of vinegar to help eliminate as much of this oil buildup as you can. By taking proactive measures, you'll ensure that the only smells in your kitchen are those of the delicious cuisine you're creating.
If you have a clog that you can't handle on your own, contact a company like Belfair Plumbing & Drain Service for assistance.
Keeping your home's plumbing system in good working order is a family job. Have you taught your kids what should never be flushed down the toilets or poured down the drains? Do your kids know what to watch for to know that there is a plumbing problem that needs to be addressed? If your kids know what to look for, they will be less likely to contribute to making a minor plumbing problem more serious. This blog will show you things that you should teach your kids so that everyone can work together to protect the entire plumbing system in your home.