Sewer Smell From a Floor Drain


A sewer smell from a floor drain is a sign of damage somewhere in the sewer line. The smell can build gradually through the home or simply appear as a heavy and unpleasant odor. Though disrepair is certain, the sewer smell is not always a sign of serious damage or breaks in the sewer line itself. Some causes of the smell may require only minor corrections that can be easily fixed without a professional plumber or sewer specialist.

Dry Lines

  • Blockage, breakage and dry lines are common causes for sewer smells. If the floor drain is unused, the standing water in the line may have evaporated and dried out the line. A dried floor drain allows the sewer gas to run through the line and into the home. Take a look down the floor drain. If it appears to be dried out, pour a pitcher of water down the floor drain to replenish the water in the trap. This will eliminate the odor if the dry line is the cause.

Cleanout Plug

  • Most drains have a cleanout plug that rests just inside the floor drain. The cleanout plug helps to keep the floor drain’s water at the ideal water level. Without the plug, the sewer gas can have a direct entry into the home through the floor drain. Check to see if your drain requires a cleanout plug and, if so, check to ensure that the plug is in place. The cleanout plug can be found in most home improvement stores for under $10. Purchase and install the cleanout plug if it is missing.


  • A blocked sewer line will cause a sewer smell to develop in the home. As the blockage becomes more severe, the odor becomes more pungent. A blocked sewer line will also cause the water to drain slowly. Initially, the slow drainage may be limited to the floor drain. However, as the blockage builds, you may notice slow drainage throughout the home, as well as foul odors from those drains. In this case, you will need to run an auger through the lines to clear the blockage.


  • A broken sewer line can cause multiple symptoms in the home, including odor from the floor drain and slow drainage. If you auger the line, the odor may subside temporarily only to become even stronger after a short period. If this is the culprit, a professional plumber will be needed to inspect and repair the lines.

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