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Loreen
Smelly Kitchen Sink

Hi!

I just purchased a house (1950s) a few months ago. Since I moved in, there has been a smell coming from the kitchen sink. I am not sure I can appropriately describe the smell, other than perhaps old food. Here are some details and tricks I've tried to get the smell to go away.

The house is on city water/sewer.
The sink drains perfectly. Water does not stand at all and free flows quickly out of the basin.
The smell is there even when the sink is empty of dishes and clean.
The smell is not there 100% of the time...even if there are dishes in the sink or the sink is empty and clean.

I've poured the following down the drain (not at the same time):
bleach (filled up the sink with water, then added a cup of bleach, then drained)
vinegar
vinegar and baking soda
409 cleaner
Drano (once)

If you have any thoughts about what I could do to fix this, please share. Thank you.

Loreen

MLB Construction
Re: Smelly Kitchen Sink

this happens often.

do you have a disposal? if you do, old food and gunk gets stuck under the rim or up high inside the disposal which doesn't get washed away with just running the sink. solution....get some flexible brushes and do your best to clean it (make sure you turn the breaker off). the ideal way would be to remove the disposal and clean it out very well or a worse case scenario would be to replace the disposal.

do you have 2 side by side sinks? if you do, the pipe that runs from one sink into the trap of the other will hold food and gunk and can be cleaned or replaced.

do you have one sink with no disposal? the trap gets full of food and gunk and that can be cleaned out or replaced.

one of these should solve your problem. let us know what you find.

Loreen
Re: Smelly Kitchen Sink

Hi,

Thank you for replying. I do not have a disposal, but do have side-by-side sinks. I'm thinking I am going to have to hire a plumber to come clean it out, though. I just don't have enough hand strength to turn the water off below the sink.

Thank you very much for your advice! I appreciate it.

Loreen

dj1
Re: Smelly Kitchen Sink

MLB really summed it up.

For hard to turn supply angle stops: time to replace them. If they don't function properly, they are useless.

MLB Construction
Re: Smelly Kitchen Sink
dj1 wrote:

MLB really summed it up.

For hard to turn supply angle stops: time to replace them. If they don't function properly, they are useless.

excellent point that is often missed on this forum and by many homeowners. if a water shutoff is too hard to turn, many homeowners will just leave it as is. it's important to replace old or malfunctioning ones. it's quicker than running to the basement to find the main shutoff and that 1-2 minute lapse in getting the water turned off, especially on a toilet shutoff, can create more damage than you can imagine.

ed21
Re: Smelly Kitchen Sink

I've become a big fan of ball valves that use a handle that rotates 90 degrees to shut off if there is room. Easier to operate and close even if they are a bit tight.
I actually "exercise" all the valves in my house at least yearly or so to make sure they stay operational. A little penetrating oil on the valve stem may eventually loosen it up.

The drain pipe from the sink over to the main drain under the other sink may not have enough slope or even slope back that allows crud to accumulate and eventually smell.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Smelly Kitchen Sink

With multi-turn valves I use an old steamfitters trick. Open the valve fully, then close it 1/8 turn. If later it wants to stick, you now have some 'slack' to work with in two directions instead of just one and chances are they you can free it by working it back and forth.

Dump a spoonful of used coffee grounds down the sink (each side on a double sink) under hot running water once a month, this will reduce odors. If you've got a disposal do the same but use about 1/4 cup dry, turn the disposal on, then run hot water. Let it run 10 seconds or so and you're good to go.

Phil

dj1
Re: Smelly Kitchen Sink

"Dump a spoonful of used coffee grounds down the sink (each side on a double sink) under hot running water once a month, this will reduce odors. If you've got a disposal do the same but use about 1/4 cup dry, turn the disposal on, then run hot water. Let it run 10 seconds or so and you're good to go."

I avoid coffee grinds in the sink or the disposer, because the build up will be as bad as cement. Better check your disposer's handbook.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Smelly Kitchen Sink

FWIW, I've been doing this for ages and have had no problems- but I rarely have done this with a disposal, so do check the book. The plumbers I've spoken with say they've never seen a problem either. The key seems to be running hot water for maybe half a minute afterward ;) Now if your drain is already half-clogged it mi9ght be a problem but you'd have had that soon anyway. I do see a lot of that- it seems there's a lot of folks who have never experienced a sink that drains well :(

Phil

HoustonRemodeler
Re: Smelly Kitchen Sink

Bars and restaurants have a common problem with a jelly like organism growing in the traps and pipes. Everything seems to work perfectly until.....

You may find it easier to replace all the pipes under the sink with shiny new ones. Then clean what remains.

FWIW we ONLY install 1/4 turn ball valves.

A. Spruce
Re: Smelly Kitchen Sink
HoustonRemodeler wrote:

FWIW we ONLY install 1/4 turn ball valves.

Me too, far less failure rate, easier to use, last longer, so worth the effort.

With a standard valve style (twist and twist and twist to open/close ) I follow the same regimen as Mastercarpentry, and that is to open them fully, then back off 1/4 turn, or so. This prevents distortion of the stem washer, it also gives you room to "fine tune" a valve stem that wants to leak because it's been moved out of its "sweet spot". Another trick is to carefully tighten the stem nut ever so slightly, this squeezes the stem washer a touch more and usually makes the seal.

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