LESLIE: Mavis in New Jersey listens to The Money Pit on WABC. How can we help you in your money pit?
MAVIS: I have – I live in a split level and I have two bathrooms upstairs and one downstairs. Now, recently I had a sour odor emanating from the sink downstairs when the sink is open.
LESLIE: Mavis, is this a bathroom that you use not so often or are you using it regularly?
MAVIS: No, it’s used regularly. And also, sometimes I get a sour odor in the upstairs sink and the shower.
TOM: OK, is it a sewage smell or is it just – is it some other smell?
MAVIS: I don’t know. There’s no blockage or anything?
TOM: The drains in your sinks are u-shaped and the u-shaped portion is known as the trap. And the reason Leslie asked you if you use it a lot is because if the sink is not used a lot the trap will dry out. And if the water in the trap dries out then sewage gas from the rest of the house can back up into the bathroom.
MAVIS: No, they’re all used regularly.
TOM: Then the next thing I would want you to check is to make sure that if you look under those sinks that you, in fact, have a u-shaped pipe there. If you don’t have a trap you could be getting sewage gas that’s backing up from the rest of the house. If you have a trap and you have – and the bath is used regularly, there’s really no source in that bathroom for that smell. It’s certainly not in that sink. Now, it could be coming from something else but it’s certainly not coming from the sink because the water acts as a gasket and seals the pipe from any sewage odors that are downline from coming back up into that.
The other thing that you could do is you could have the traps taken apart and perhaps they are become dirty or corroded or filled up with all sorts of things that get into bathroom sink drains; you know, hair, soap, all kinds of things like that. And that could be causing a bit of the odor. But short of that, I can’t imagine anything in that sink that would be causing the odor because, again, if the water’s in the trap there’s no way for gases to get back up the pipe and that’s designed to protect you that way.
Mavis, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.