What Happens to Plumbing When It’s Not Used Often Enough?

December 19, 2019

As a homeowner, you know how important it is to keep up on plumbing maintenance in Coweta County, GA. Without regular maintenance and the occasional professional inspection, plumbing problems can reach emergency status and end up costing you big in repairs and patience. One common problematic situation is living with a persistent sewer smell inside your house. This can be due to dried-up drain traps. Read on for some information about unused bathroom drains and how to prevent this unpleasant odor.

P-traps and sewer smells

An unused bathroom drain can start to stink after a while. This unpleasant smell presents when drains sit unused for too long.

Every plumbing fixture in your home has a trap, or P-trap—take a look under one of your sinks to see an example. These are the U bends in the P-shaped parts of the pipe, which generally sits directly beneath the drain. In toilets, these traps are molded into the fixtures. The job of traps is to prevent sewer odors from escaping plumbing pipes and spreading throughout your home. Interestingly enough, P-traps have to be filled with water in order to contain sewer smells inside the drain. You shouldn’t have a problem with this issue if your bathrooms are being used on a regular basis.

The problem with unused P-traps

The longer bathroom drains go unused, the greater the chance you’ll experience a nasty sewer smell. This is because a trap’s main purpose is to create a water seal to prevent sewer smells and methane gas from entering your home. If a P-trap becomes empty or has dried out for some reason, the sewer gas inside the waste pipes will have a way to enter your living spaces. Every P-trap also requires a vent stack—these can typically be seen sticking out of your roof.

How to handle unused drains

A bathroom drain that doesn’t get used as much as it used to can start producing a foul stench. If you aren’t familiar with this happening, your first thought might be that something is very wrong with your sewer line. In reality, you likely just need to run some water through these drains. All you should need to do is run water in the shower or sink or flush the toilet at least once a week to keep the traps full. Let the water evaporate and that sewer gas smell will come back.

Sometimes running water doesn’t work to keep sewer smells at bay. If this is the case, try pouring a homemade solution down the problem drain. Pour one cup distilled white vinegar down the drain, then a quarter cup of baking soda. Let stand for 15 minutes before rinsing with hot water. Once completely rinsed and the trap has refilled with water, consider adding a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil. The oil will float on top of the water in the trap, preventing it from evaporating too quickly.

If it’s time for plumbing maintenance in Coweta County, GA to get rid of a nasty drain smell, contact Victor Moody Plumbing Inc. Our plumbing professionals are ready to help!

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