Water May Be The Sneaky Reason Your Shower Drain Smells Like Rotten Eggs

Have you ever found yourself standing in the shower, wondering why it smells so bad? You've cleaned every surface, scrubbed down the tile, and even used chemicals to clean out the drain. Yet, it still stinks. It could be the water itself that is causing the problem, especially if the drain smells like sewage.

In some homes, the water feeding into your shower comes from an underground well. Well pumps pull up that water from deep under the home. These sources can sometimes contain sulfur, a powerful, pungent scent that smells like rotten eggs. As you use the water in your shower, it's moving into the drain and may even be collecting there. This allows that scent to carry through the bathroom and even the entire house over time. Any drain in your home could be impacted too.

Sulfur isn't necessarily dangerous to your health, but most people don't like to think their shower smells like someone was eating hardboiled eggs in there. Keep in mind that this is just one of the potential causes of a strong odor coming from the drain. It could also be due to build-up in the sewer lines, too, especially if there are gasses from decomposing material trapped in any area of the shower lines. Once you determine what is causing the smell, you can focus on fixing it.

How to determine the underlying cause

Drains carry a lot of dirt and debris through them, and most are connected to each other. That means that when one drain has a backup or any type of material stuck on the interior walls of the pipes, that scent can spread throughout the home. Often, the most common cause of these odors is a build-up of biofilm along the drain line. This slimy substance is built up from organic material that goes down the drain. Other times, it's the water itself causing the issue. 

You may not even realize this is occurring. If you have a well system with a pump, there's a simple trick to determining if the well water is actually the cause of the rotten egg smell. To figure this out, start with a large glass of water poured directly from the faucet. Take it outside of the property and then smell it. Does it have a strong sulfur-like scent to it? 

If so, that's a good indication that the well pump is causing the odor in your shower drain. It could be more than one factor, though. There are many situations where you may have not only sulfur water but also a pretty intense backup of organic material in the sewer lines. It's best to treat both problems to give your bathroom a clean, refreshed smell to it.

How to fix a rotten egg smell in the shower

Let's assume that you've done the work to clean the drain in the shower, remove any material from the p-traps throughout the home, and maybe even had them flushed out by a professional. You know the problem is sulfur, but fortunately, this isn't something you have to just live with because you can improve it. One way to do that is to shock the well system. A licensed plumber is the best person to call for this task since it involves the underground well water for your house that you do not want to pollute. 

The typical process involves using a chlorine-based solution in both the well water itself and the pump. This will kill all of the bacteria that are present in the treated area. The end result is that the smell is no longer present. This process may need to be revisited several times over the coming months. Typically, you'll need to have it done every few months if the smell returns. 

If that sounds like more trouble than it is worth, another option is to turn to a plumber for a whole-home filtration system — one of the best tools for removing all kinds of particles and material from the water in your home. This system will remove chemicals, dirt, bacteria, and other substances at the water's source, meaning your shower, dishwasher, washing machine, and hot water tank all get clean water.