Cleaning Faint Odors
I received this question from a lady in Steiner Ranch. She says she has a pesky odor in one of her bathrooms. She can’t tell where it’s coming from or how to get rid of it.
Answer: It could be from an unused tub or shower.
Many of us in the Austin area have Jacuzzi bathtubs in our master bathrooms. If you’re like my wife and me, it’s an amenity that we rarely use. Also, if you have a bathroom or two for guests (who only visit during SXSW or Austin City Limits) where the shower, tub and/or sink are rarely used, you may experience a slight or even sometimes strong and unpleasant odor emanating from them.
The culprit for these tell-tale odors may be from what is known as a plumbing trap. We are most familiar with these under our kitchen and bathroom sinks because that is where they are visible to us. However, every drain throughout your house has one.
A plumbing trap works by creating a water barrier between your sewer or septic system and the actual visible drain of the sink or tub basin. As you can well imagine, your below grade plumbing is not the cleanest nor most fragrant part of your home and the trap prevents those odors from wafting up through the pipes and infusing into your living environment.
Now here’s what can happen especially in the dry Austin winters. Over time, the water level in those traps can completely evaporate. You’ve probably seen evidence of this in any toilet that goes unused for an extended period of time. The water level declines substantially.
This same evaporation can cause the water barrier level in the trap to get so low that it no longer serves its purpose. Hence, a smelly guest bathroom.
Fear Not! The simple solution is as easy as making a glass of instant ice tea! Just add water! A cup or two of water is all that’s required.
However I recommend pouring a half cup of baking soda into the drain followed by a cup of cider vinegar. Let this concoction foam for 5 minutes and then run water for a minute. Problem solved.
That’s the tip for now. We hope that that Lake Travis bathroom smells as sweet as a Texas Lilac now.