Why Does My Shower Smell Like Sewage?

Why Does My Shower Smell Like Sewage?

Nothing ruins a nice, hot shower like the smell of sewage emanating from your shower drain. Sewer smells or other foul odors coming from your shower, while not always a cause for alarm, are anything but pleasant.

This May Also Interest You: 5 Reasons You Have Slow Hot Water Flow — and 5 Fixes You Can Try

If your shower smells like sewage and you’re not sure why, you’ll want to get to the bottom of things, stat. Read on for a list of some of the most common culprits of shower drain smells along with how to fix them.

Why Does My Shower Smell Like Sewage?

1. P-Trap Problems

If you notice your shower drain smells like sewage, the P-Trap is on of the first places you’ll want to check, since dirty or dry P-traps are often to blame for stinky shower drains. Despite its name, a P-trap is actually a U-shaped piece of pipe that lies beneath the rest of the drain’s pipeline and holds water to stop sewer gases from traveling up through the drain and into your bathroom. But a dirty P-trap that’s blocked by buildup like hair and soap scum can’t do its job properly. Another P-trap-related issue that can make your drain smell like sewage is a dry P-trap, usually caused by a clogged ventilation line or other problem with your plumbing vent.

If you suspect a dirty P-trap is sending sewer gases into your shower, first try cleaning the P-trap with a simple baking soda and vinegar combo, very hot (but not boiling) water or, if you must, a chemical drain cleaner. Be sure to run water down the drain for a bit to thoroughly rinse afterward. However, if a dry P-trap is the issue, you’ll need to call in a professional plumber to take a look at the plumbing’s vent line.

2. Drain Clogs

A drain clog is another common culprit when it comes to a stinky shower. Drain clogs occur when shower debris — like hair, soap scum, mineral deposits and oils (the same particles that can cause problems in your P-trap) — build up and slow the flow of the drain, causing more debris to accumulate that begins to smell over time. One thing to note with drain clogs is that they can produce a variety of odors but, oftentimes, as this build up breaks down, it releases hydrogen sulfide, causing a sulfuric, eggy smell that is unpleasant to say the least.

If you suspect a drain clog, try using a drain snake to remove the debris buildup. If shower drain clogs are a consistent issue in your shower, consider purchasing a drain strainer to help prevent future clogs. You can also, again, try pouring very hot water down the shower drain to help rid it of any residual soap and oil buildup that the drain snake may have missed.

3. Bacterial Buildup

If your shower tile or drain has a film of bacterial buildup that has collected over time, it could potentially cause a musty or unpleasant, sewer-like smell. Biofilm is a bacteria that can attach to shower tiles or stalls, and in and around your shower drain, accumulating over time.

If there’s an odor in your shower and you aren’t sure it’s a sewer smell, you might try cleaning your shower tiles and your drain to see if eliminating bacteria buildup helps kill the stench. Try scrubbing your shower and drain cover with an antimicrobial disinfectant cleaner. If you want to take this a step further, you can detach your drain cover and use a paint roller cover to vertically clean the sides of your drain pipe with that same disinfectant to help wash away any biofilm buildup. A steam cleaner, which can usually be rented from your local home improvement store, is another option.

More Related Articles:

Can I Fix It Myself (and, If So, How?) or Do I Need a Plumber?

Whether you can tackle your shower’s sewer smell on your own will depend on the scope and specifics of your particular issue, but for many of these problems you can try addressing them inexpensively and independently first, either with a drain snake, a baking soda/vinegar wash, or a deep clean. None of these is likely to cause any harm, even if they don’t solve the sewer smell in your bathroom. If the problem persists after you try your at-home remedies, it’s time to call a plumber to investigate the issue further.

So Long, Sewer Smell!

Sewer smells in your shower are an unpleasant business. But the good news is that, in many instances, they can be dealt with fairly easily and affordably, without having to call in the pros. If your home remedy doesn’t help or you have recurring issues with shower drain smells in your bathroom, you’ll obviously want a plumber to take a closer look. Either way, once you’ve addressed the issue and sent that shower drain smell back from whence it came, then congratulations! Reward yourself by taking a lovely, long shower that no longer offends your olfactory system. Ahhh, it smells like … victory.

AC Icy? Here’s Why Your Air Conditioner Is Frozen (and How to Fix It)

AC Icy? Here’s Why Your Air Conditioner Is Frozen (and How to Fix It)

Despite sounding counterintuitive, an air conditioner that freezes despite the scorching summer heat is a surprisingly common occurrence. Along with visible ice on the outside of the AC, frozen refrigerant or evaporator coils on the inside of the unit can cause your air conditioner to blow warm, instead of cold, air into your home. It can even result in expensive damage to the compressor if you continue to run the air conditioner while it’s frozen.

This May Also Interest You: HVAC Terms Every Homeowner Should Know

Read on to learn what causes an air conditioner to freeze, how to fix it, and how to prevent your AC from freezing in the future.

What Causes an AC Unit to Freeze?

Frozen air conditioners are usually caused by:

Poor Airflow

The most common reason for an AC unit freezing is inadequate airflow. Without warm air moving across the evaporator coils, the coil’s temperature will drop and cause them to freeze. Poor airflow also allows the humidity in the air to collect on the coils, which increases their likelihood of freezing. Airflow issues can be caused by a dirty air filter, dirty evaporator coils, a weak or malfunctioning blower, closed or obstructed vents or ductwork that’s clogged, collapsed, leaking or undersized.

Low Refrigerant Levels

Low refrigerant levels from a leak in the system will lower the temperature in the refrigerant lines and cause them to freeze over. If you see bubbles on your refrigerant lines or hear a hissing noise coming from them, you likely have a refrigerant leak. Unfortunately, fixing a refrigerant leak requires special tools and expert know-how, so it needs to be addressed by a professional HVAC technician.

Blocked Condensate Line

Air conditioners extract water vapor from the air in the process of removing heat, and the water that accumulates inside the unit is drained outside through a condensate line. If the condensate line becomes clogged, however, water will accumulate inside the unit and freeze. In addition to the AC being frozen, signs of a clogged condensate line include standing water or water damage around the indoor unit.

Cool Summer Nights

Operating your air conditioner when outside temperatures are below 60 degrees will drop the pressure in the refrigerant lines and cause them to freeze. This typically happens during cool summer nights when the air conditioner’s thermostat is set too low.

How to Fix a Frozen Air Conditioner

Step 1: Melt the Ice

Continuing to run your AC while it’s frozen can place a heavy demand on the unit’s compressor, possibly resulting in expensive damage or a reduced lifespan. Melt the ice by either turning the AC completely off, or by turning on the fan-only function if your unit has one. Using the fan will accelerate the thawing process by blowing warm air over all the unit’s internal components. In either case, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days for the ice to completely melt based on the extent of freezing, the size of your air conditioner and the surrounding air temperature.

Step 2: Check the Air Filter

Check the air filter to see if it’s clogged by holding it up to a source of light. If light doesn’t pass through it, it’s clogged and needs to be replaced. In addition to preventing your air conditioner from freezing, replacing the air filter can reduce the unit’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.

Step 3: Clean the Coils

The AC filter is responsible for filtering out the dirt, dust, pet hair and other airborne particles from your home before it reaches the evaporator coil. However, some of it will inevitably slip through, especially if the filter is dirty. When that happens, these particles will accumulate on the coils and result in freezing from inhibited airflow.

If there’s a lot of visible grit and grime on your condenser coil, you can clean it off by spraying an evaporator coil cleaner. While some formulas don’t need to be rinsed off after applying, others need to be flushed with water from a spray bottle. Check the manufacturer’s instructions before use.

Step 4: Check the Vents

Look around your home for supply and return vents that are closed or obstructed. Any vents that are closed — even in unused rooms— should be opened. Check underneath rugs, behind furniture and under heavy drapes for vents that may be blocked.

More Related Articles:

Step 5: Clear the Drain

While unclogging a condensate line may require professional assistance, you can attempt to clear the clog yourself with a wet-dry vacuum equipped with a special attachment.

Start by locating the open end of the condensate line, which is usually a 3/4-inch PVC pipe found near the outdoor compressor unit. If you have a wet-dry vac with a standard 2.5-inch hose, you can install an AC condensate line attachment onto it to suck the clog out of the line. Simply connect the 2.5-inch side of the attachment to the vacuum hose and the 3/4-inch side to the condensate line, then run the shop vac for three minutes to clear the clog.

Step 6: Set the Thermostat

Set the temperature on your thermostat to no lower than 65 degrees so the unit will shut off before outdoor temperatures dip below 60. Instead of using your AC during cool summer nights, consider opening up some windows instead.

Step 7: Turn on the AC and Test

After you’ve performed all of the above steps, turn the air conditioner back on and monitor it for evidence of freezing in the coming days or weeks. If it freezes up again, you may need to have the underlying issue addressed by a professional HVAC technician.

If All Else Fails: Call an HVAC technician

While you can tackle many causes of a frozen air conditioner yourself, some need to be handled by a professional technician. If your AC continues to freeze over after completing the above steps, you will need to have it inspected by a professional to identify and fix the underlying cause. An HVAC technician will be able to:

  • Repair leaking or damaged refrigerant lines
  • Inspect, clean, repair or replace ductwork
  • Inspect, repair or replace a weak or malfunctioning blower
  • Thoroughly clean the evaporator coils
  • Clear a heavily obstructed condensate line

How Do I Keep My Air Conditioner From Freezing Up?

The best way to keep your air conditioner from freezing up is to replace the air filter every 30 to 90 days, depending on the quality of the filter, the size of your home, the number of people living in the house and whether you have pets. Check your filter every month and replace it whenever it’s clogged.

Set the temperature on your thermostat so that it shuts off before outdoor temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Have your HVAC unit inspected by a qualified HVAC technician every spring. They will be able to clean your evaporator coils and check the condition of your ducts, blower motor and refrigerant lines. Not only will this prevent your air conditioner from freezing, but it will also maximize the lifespan of your unit as well.

Should You Cover Your Central Air Conditioner in the Winter?

Should You Cover Your Central Air Conditioner in the Winter?

When winter rolls around, there’s no shortage of tasks for homeowners to check off their to-do lists to prep their houses for the coming cold. The amount of winterizing that’s necessary will depend on the climate you live in, along with the specifics of your home.

This May Also Interest You: Bundle Up: How to Prepare your HVAC System for Winter

One long-standing debate is whether or not you should cover your HVAC unit in the winter. We’re going to settle it, once and for all.

Do You Need to Cover Your Central AC Unit in the Winter?

It makes sense, in theory, to cover your AC unit to protect it from the elements in winter, particularly if you live in an area that sees a lot of snow and ice. But the truth is that modern HVAC units were built and tested to withstand extreme temperatures and precipitation. They are made with materials capable of handling winter weather and have built-in drainage to get rid of winter precipitation and snow melt, so contrary to what you may think, most outdoor AC units don’t actually need the protection of a cover during winter months.

In fact, covering your air conditioning unit during winter can do more harm than good, because it may trap moisture and condensation in the unit, which can lead to mold and rust. This is especially true for plastic covers, like a tarp, or covers made of other non-breathable materials that can similarly foster mold growth and corrosion. What’s more, snug, air-tight covers can be very appealing to critters looking for a spot to cozy up during cold winter months, and the last thing you want is mice or other rodents making a nest in your AC unit — and they can fit into smaller spaces than you might think!

When Should You Cover Your Air Conditioner?

Although an air conditioner cover isn’t necessary for winter months, it can be helpful to have some protection for your unit in the fall. Covering just the top portion of your unit with an outdoor AC cover in the fall can help keep leaves, twigs, nuts and other falling debris from getting lodged in your unit, which can cause problems down the line.

The key to covering your AC unit in the fall is to make sure the cover is breathable and only extends about six or so inches down the sides of the unit. You do not need a full unit cover to protect your AC unit from debris. This will ensure that although the top of your unit is protected, the unit still has plenty of room to breathe, preventing the trapped condensation buildup that can cause issues with rust or mold. You can also check with your HVAC manufacturer to see if there’s a specific weather shield top cover option that’s meant for your unit.

More Related Articles:

Outdoor AC Cover Minimalism

Like most home maintenance, when it comes to winterizing, you want to keep your home protected without doing (or spending) more than necessary. And you certainly want to avoid doing something that may be harmful rather than helpful, which may be the case if you fully cover your HVAC unit in the winter with dense, non-porous cover.

Air conditioning covers for winter may seem like a good idea, but they simply aren’t necessary for most modern units, especially since many covers out there can trap moisture and cause long-term damage to your unit. Plus, a full, cozy unit cover may appeal to mice and other critters as a place to get away from the cold.

That said, covering the top of your unit in the fall to protect it from falling debris is not a bad idea, especially if your unit is in an area that receives a lot of tree detritus during the autumn months. If you do opt to cover your unit in the fall, just make sure to use a breathable top cover and remember to remove it before the first freeze of the season. Because when it comes to winterizing your HVAC unit, less really is more.

Get Your Mind on Your Gutters: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Get Your Mind on Your Gutters: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

If you’re new to homeownership, you may not have given much thought to your gutters. Nevertheless, rain gutters play an essential role in keeping your home protected and free from water damage.

This May Also Interest You: Does a House Need Gutters?

Keeping your gutters cleaned and well-maintained will prevent clogs and ensure your gutters are doing their job properly. If you’re new to the gutter game, read this rundown on what they’re all about.

What Exactly Are Gutters For?

Gutters help protect your home by diverting rain, working to shield it from water damage. Gutters use a system of channels just below your roofline to send rain and other precipitation away from your home via downspouts. This helps keep water from collecting around your foundation or causing mold and mildew damage to your home’s siding.

What Are Gutters Made Of?

Most roof gutters are made of aluminum, vinyl or galvanized steel and tend to be installed toward the end of the home-building process. Gutters are pretty long-lasting, with a typical lifespan of 20 years or more, depending on the material and how well they’re maintained.

Although the cost varies quite a bit depending on your home’s specifics and the type of gutter system you choose, the average cost of a gutter replacement is around $1,500 (CAD 2,000) for both materials and installation, give or take a bit, depending on square footage. That said, if your house has a complicated roofline that requires a very sophisticated system, or if you want to upgrade to a higher-end, longer-lasting material for your gutters, you should expect to pay significantly more.

What About Gutter Guards?

You can also purchase gutter guards to go on top of your gutters to help protect them from excess leaf and debris buildup and to keep your rainwater flowing as it should. Gutter guards won’t remove the need for cleaning entirely, but you certainly won’t have to clean your gutters as often. While gutter guards will make maintaining your gutters easier, know that they can come with a pretty hefty price tag — around $15 (CAD 20) per square foot, or about $1,500 (CAD 2,000) more than gutters alone. That said, for a lot of folks, they are more than worth it for the time and effort they save on maintenance, especially for homes positioned under a lot of foliage.

Do You Need to Have Gutters?

In short, probably so. The overwhelming majority of homes need roof gutters to help protect the integrity of the home, but there are a few exceptions. Concrete houses, for example, may not need gutters, and homes with downward-sloping properties and extra-long roof overhangs (think 6 to 10 inches) may also be able to go gutter-free. Also, homes in extremely dry climates may not need the protection of gutters like most homes do, since they receive such little rain.

More Related Articles:

What Are the Hazards of Clogged Gutters?

Keeping your gutters clean is important for several reasons. In addition to ensuring the gutters are flowing as they should, seasonal cleaning will also help keep your gutters from getting clogged. Clogged gutters can lead to mold and mildew buildup, ice dams in winter and pest issues, all of which can cause long-term damage to your gutters.

Basic Gutter Maintenance Tips

Regardless of how sophisticated or high-quality your gutter system might be, clean gutters are key to making sure they are functioning their best. In general, you should plan to clean your gutters at least twice a year, ideally during fall and spring. Cleaning out your rain gutters toward the end of fall helps prevent clogs and gives you the chance to remove leaves, pinecones, branches and other debris that have accumulated and ensure the gutters are ready for the coming winter.

Fall is also a good time to check that your gutters are free of holes or other damage and still solidly attached to your home. When winter hits, you want your gutters in good shape, so that they can handle whatever snow and ice the cold weather brings. Early spring is also a good opportunity to check in on your gutters to make sure they didn’t suffer any damage from the weight of winter precipitation. Check for rust, dents, sagging or loose pieces while your gutters are empty. Spring tends to bring rain, so you’ll want your gutters clean and well-functioning so that they can do the work of diverting all that rainfall away from your home to protect your siding and foundation.

Maintenance Matters Most

Whether you have top-of-the-line gutters that were installed in recent years or a basic gutter system from decades ago, creating a regular cleaning and inspection schedule will help keep your gutters performing as they should. As with other aspects of homeownership, preventive maintenance is key to gutter longevity and avoiding spending extra money on repairs down the line.