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Why Your Bathroom Smells Like Sulfur and How to Fix It

Bathroom Smells Like Sulfur


Have you noticed a foul smell in your bathroom? Does your bathroom smell like sewage or sulfur after a shower? Does your toilet smell after each flush? If it does, it is likely because of the production of hydrogen sulfide gas, otherwise known as sewer gas. This foul smell is produced by bacteria in the ground, sewage, and in contaminated water in pipes. After you determine whether the source is coming from the water or the drain, and whether it is confined to only that area or the rest of your home, you can decide how to deal with it. Here’s more information about why your bathroom or kitchen sink smells like sulfur, and how to fix it.

Reasons Your Bathroom/Kitchen Sink Smells like Sulfur/Rotten Eggs

Find the Source of the Smell: Drain or Water?

Before you get rid of the smell, you must figure out if the smell is from the water or the drain. To test this, fill a glass with water from the cold tap and take it outside to smell. Do this a second time with hot water instead. If there is odour in both samples, there is a high chance that the contamination is in the water supply. However, if the smell is only present in the hot water, it may be the hot water heater. If there is no smell at all, the source is likely coming from the drain.

Isolated Smell vs. Multiple Fixtures?

After you test to find out where the smell is coming from, you need to find out if it is limited to that source or if it is all around your home. If the water is the source of the odour, check your water in other fixtures in your home. If the contaminated water smell is only from that one sink, it could be a localized plumbing condition. Bacteria may be growing in those pipes. If the smell exists in other faucets, it could be a contamination in the water supply. If the smell is limited to the drain, it could be contaminated waste pipes or blocked vents—especially if the smell increases after flushing the toilet or emptying the washing machine.

How to Fix the Sulfur Smell in Your Bathroom

Now that you have tested to find out where the smell is coming from, here are some tips for how to fix the smell.

Hot Water: Multiple Fixtures Affected

If the water heater is contaminated, it is likely the cause of magnesium in the anode rod reacting with the bacteria and causing the odour. To repair this specific issue, you will need to replace the rod with an aluminum rod and disinfect the tank water with hydrogen peroxide. You can also remove the anode rod, but this may shorten the life span of the water heater.

Cold Water: Multiple Fixtures Affected

For homeowners with a well, the pressure tank could be affected. This can be remedied by disinfecting the tank and adding one gallon of household bleach for every 1,000 gallons of water. You may also need to disinfect the well. A common cause of these odours is contaminated water softeners, so replace the filter to fix this issue.

Hot or Cold Water: Only One Fixture Affected

If your plumbing was renovated in the past and a pipe that was no longer necessary was capped off, anaerobic bacteria that produce hydrogen sulfide gas could be flourishing there since water is unable to flow through. To fix this problem, this “dead leg” should be cut and removed from your plumbing system.

Sink Drain and Drainage Problems

If there is a vent blockage that is interfering with the water flow, drainage from the toilet or any other large water-using fixture may be creating pressure that pushes sewer gas through the sink P-trap. You may also notice gurgling sounds and slow draining. The blockage may be caused by an obstruction in the waste line, so you may benefit from plunging the nearest toilet. Another area you can check is the roof—inspect the vent stack opening and remove any debris that is in the way. If you notice this problem in the winter, use a hair dryer to heat the vent pipe near the roof to melt any ice or replace the vent stack with a wider pipe in the spring.

Contaminated Sink Drain

If you have a contaminated sink drain, you should disinfect it to kill any odour-causing bacteria in the waste pipe and P-trap. Simply pour half a cup of bleach into the drain. To disinfect the overflow, fill up the sink with water, pour in half a cup of bleach, and continue filling the sink until the water begins to overflow. After about a cup of water has over flown, wait five minutes before draining the sink. You can also use half a cup of baking soda, followed by a cup of vinegar if bleach is too strong. Let this mixture fizz for 10 minutes, then rinse with four cups of boiling water. If you can disassemble the P-trap, give it a good cleaning with either of these home remedies.

Contact Flood Services Canada for Bathroom or Sink Floods

Unless you are an expert plumber, you may not know where to begin to fix the odours coming from your bathroom or kitchen sink. Although you may be able to pour baking soda and vinegar down a drain with ease, you may not know if there is a “dead leg” or a bigger issue. In fact, sometimes the cause of odour is mould from a leak that you cannot see. Therefore, it is important to contact a professional odour control and removal company. The goal of any professional remediation and restoration effort is to restore your property back to its pre-damaged condition. Even if you’re home appears to be structurally sound, clean, and safe, there may still be unpleasant odours lingering and being a great source of frustration.

If you need a professional team to inspect your home to find out what the cause of the household odour is and how to fix it, Flood Services Canada is the team you need. Contact us 24/7 at (416) 999-3930 for our rapid-response team.

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Chad Vanvari

Chad Vanvari has over 20 years of experience as a cleaning & restoration professional. He started out in Montreal, establishing a commercial carpet cleaning company in the early 1990’s. By 2001, Chad had relocated to Toronto and now had extensive knowledge and experience in responding to fire/water related emergencies. He has been instrumental in the cleanup of several catastrophic floods. Currently, Chad is the president and owner of Flood Services Canada, a 24/7 emergency service restoration company.