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Ask John Smelly Shower Main Image

Why Does My Shower Smell?

John Turpin is our resident home service repair expert here at Service Direct. He’s got the knowledge and experience to help homeowners like you make sense of most home repair issues. And with Service Direct, we connect you with top-tier service professionals to help with any repairs needed.

Find Out Why Your Shower Smells Like Sewage

There’s a nasty odor coming from your showers, and it really has to go. But how can you get rid of the bad shower smell? The key is to know the kind of smell coming from your shower and what’s causing it. Does the shower drain smell musty? You may have an active mold growing in there. Does it smell like sewage? It could be biofilm or sewer gases.

Once you know the cause of the bad odor, you can find the right way to get rid of the stink yourself or ask a professional to take care of it. If you’re interested in DIY advice, this article can help. Read on to find out why your shower smells and what you can do to fix the problem.

Ask John Why Your Shower Smells
This article explores common causes of sewerage smell in your shower.

Common Causes of Bad Shower Smells and How to Get Rid of Them

You’ve stepped into the shower and are immediately assaulted by such an unpleasant odor. You’re not alone in this problem, as most homeowners have been in the same situation at least once. Don’t worry because most bad shower smell situations are easy to resolve. Check out below for some of the most common reasons why your shower might smell:

Bacteria and Mold Growth

Why does your shower smell like sewage? Why does it smell musty? One of the possible causes is bacteria and mold growth. Moist environments like showers provide the perfect breeding ground for these microorganisms. Over time, they produce a musty or mildew-like odor or sewage-like smell.

Fortunately, you can combat the issue by keeping your shower clean and dry. Regular cleaning with bleach-based cleaner can help kill bacteria and mold growth. It also helps to ensure the shower is well-ventilated to prevent moisture buildup.

Sewer Gas Leaks

If your shower smells like sulfur or rotten eggs, it could be due to a sewer gas leak. Sewer gas is a mixture of carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen sulfide. It can be dangerous if inhaled in large quantities.

If you suspect you have sewer gas in your shower, you must take action immediately. Contact a plumber or HVAC professional to investigate the issue, and avoid using the shower until the problem has been resolved.

Blocked Drain

Another reason why your shower smells like sewage could be a blocked drain. When water and other waste materials can’t drain properly, they can build up and produce a foul odor. The quickest solution to this issue is to call a plumber to remove the blockage in your drain pipes. Also, avoid pouring harsh chemicals down the drain, which can further damage the pipes.

Blocked drains are a common cause of bad smells coming from your shower or tub.

Dirty Grout or Caulk

The grout and caulk in your shower can also be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. This is another common cause of the unpleasant odor from your shower. If you notice a musty or mildew-like smell from your shower, it could be due to dirty grout or caulk.

Fixing this problem involves scrubbing the grout and caulk with a bleach-based cleaner. But if there are stubborn stains, you might have to replace the grout or caulk entirely. Before cleaning, remember to wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself from harsh chemicals.

Our resident home repair guru, John Turpin, offers insight to why your shower drain smells bad as well as some suggested solutions and DIY tips to fix it.

Water Heater Issues

Sometimes, the bad shower smell is due to water heater issues. If you notice an unpleasant smell coming from your hot water, the water heater is likely the culprit. It might be the result of sediment and bacteria that built up in the heater.

Draining and flushing the water heater should solve this problem. You can try handling this process, but remember it’s a bit complex. It might be best to let a professional plumber do this for you.

Improper Ventilation

Does your shower have proper ventilation? If it doesn’t, that could be why you’re having trouble with a bad shower smell. Not having proper ventilation can lead to moisture buildup and unpleasant odors, as well as contribute to mold and bacteria growth.

How can you fix this issue? Consider installing a ventilation fan in your bathroom. A fan can help circulate the air, preventing moisture buildup. This will help eliminate any unpleasant odors like musty or moldy smells.

It’s also important to keep your bathroom door and windows open whenever possible, especially after showering. This way, fresh air can circulate in the bathroom, also preventing moisture buildup.

Old Shower head

Over time, the materials used in shower heads start to break down. This can be one of the reasons there’s a bad shower smell coming from your bathroom. If your shower head is old or hasn’t been cleaned regularly, it could be the source of the smell.

You can fix this issue easily by replacing the shower head with a new one. Alternatively, you can try soaking your existing shower head in a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Let it soak for a few hours to remove any mineral deposits or bacteria buildup.

Ask John Smelly Old Shower Head
Review our FAQ’s to help resolve bad smells coming from your shower.

Bad Shower Smell FAQs

What is biofilm?

Biofilm is easily described as slime. Sometimes, it’s mistaken for mold. Technically, it’s a complex microbial community composed of bacteria, fungi, algae, and other microorganisms. Biofilm forms when these microorganisms adhere to a surface, like pipes, creating a glue-like substance that is slimy to the touch and keeps them clinging to whatever surface they attach. They’re a common reason your shower drain smells and can be dangerous to your health, given all the microorganisms that make it.

Can a shower drain smell even if it’s not used?

Yes, a shower drain can emit odors even when you’re not using it. Factors such as biofilm buildup, dry traps, trapped debris, and poor ventilation can contribute to the unpleasant smell of the shower. The best way to address these issues and prevent lingering odors is to clean the shower regularly and perform proper maintenance.

Is a smelly shower drain dangerous?

A smelly shower itself isn’t necessarily dangerous to your health, but it can be a sign of underlying issues that need attention. The bad smell in the shower is often due to bacteria, mold, or other organic matter buildup. They’re unpleasant but generally don’t pose immediate health risks. But if the cause of the nasty odor is a gas leak or sewage backup, it can potentially become hazardous.

When should I call a professional plumber?

You should consider calling a professional plumber if it’s a persistent odor, there’s a sewage or gas smell, you have drainage and clog issues or water quality concerns. If basic cleaning methods don’t fix the smelly situation, you might need the help of a professional.

Hire a Local HVAC or Plumbing Pro

Generally, it’s easy enough to resolve bad shower smell issues that you can do them on your own. But if you can’t determine the cause of the smell or need assistance to fix the problem, don’t hesitate to contact a professional. An experienced plumber or HVAC technician has the skills and tools to help you.

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