How to Get Rid of a Bad Smell Under the Sink
LESLIE: Kenneth in Georgia, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we for you today?
KENNETH: My sink in my kitchen is inside of an island.
KENNETH: The sewer vent beneath the island – beneath the sink which is underneath the cabinet, is starting to stink really badly and I don’t know why it’s stinking all of a sudden.
TOM: Well, does it have a trap in it? In other words, is it properly plumbed? That’s the first thing to check. Does it have the U-shaped pipe underneath that’s filled with water?
KENNETH: I’m not sure. No, I’m not.
TOM: OK. Well, that would be the first thing. There are two reasons that this thing could smell: number one is it’s not plumbed properly. Sinks have to have a P-trap underneath. Looks like the letter P or the letter U. And essentially, what happens is water …
LESLIE: And essentially, it stands for pee-ew. (Tom and Kenneth laugh) If you don’t have one, it stinks.
TOM: Absolutely. And the water sits inside the U portion and basically that acts as the trap and blocks the sewage gas; allows water to pass but won’t let the gas come back up. So if it’s not plumbed properly, you could have basically an open vent pipe to the sewer line and that could stink really, really bad.
The second thing is that sometimes you get a biological film that forms in sinks from all of the soap and the hair and the food particles and everything that’s in there. And if that happens, typically, if you fill the trap up with bleach it will kill it. You have to let it sit for a little while but that will kill that and stop the odor from happening.
KENNETH: Got you. Now I’ve tried the bleach and it solves the problem for maybe a week or so and then it comes back.
TOM: Yeah. Take a look at the trap; let’s make sure you have one. Otherwise, you could put all the bleach in the world down there and it’s not going to happen.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And it’s not going to make a difference.
KENNETH: Now, I’ve lived in this house for maybe five years, so I would have to have a trap, right? Otherwise, I would have been had this problem, right?
TOM: Yeah, we would hope so. How old is the house?
KENNETH: The house was built in 2000.
TOM: You would think so.
KENNETH: Yeah. OK.
TOM: But that’s the first thing to check, OK?
KENNETH: Will do. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.