another stinky kitchen drain and dishwasher problem

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Lynn V, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. Lynn V

    Lynn V New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Jefferson City, MO
    I have a bad odor coming from kitchen drain and up thru dishwasher. Also, when I wash dishes and open door, odor very bad. Also comes up bathroom drain slightly. Worse when I open up the house. Going on for over a year. I have had three dishwasher repairmen out and finally bought new dishwasher. The drain hose is properly looped. The city has tested water quality - no issues. Four different plumbers have been out four times (same company but different people). All traps in house now have water (two didn't). Trap under sink perfectly clean. Clean-out in basement replaced because not completely screwed in. House smoked and found loose vent pipe and repaired. No vents clogged. I have cleaned drain and dishwasher over and over with both bleach and vinegar/baking soda combination, etc. As far as we can tell, no dead animals or mold issues. Still have odor, although at this point seems not as bad but still intolerable on dishes and in kitchen. They did not snake kitchen drain for clogs further down, but drains do seem to drain fine.

    Any ideas for what next? Plumbers are now saying maybe tear out kitchen cabinets and walls and look at pipes going up there. Perhaps pressure from smoke was not enough to show up on first floor, but they say that is a long shot and don't seem anxious to do it.
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,118
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    A picture of the sink cabinet, the inside and how things are hooked up would help.
  3. Lynn V

    Lynn V New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Jefferson City, MO
    cabinet.jpg IMG_0082.jpg

    Thank you for your reply. I have tried to attach pictures but not sure I succeeded.
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,118
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If the dishwasher line is looped high in the cabinet, then it's as good as you can get. I don't think it's the plumbing.
    I prefer a metal shield coupling going from the gavlavinzed to the plastic, but if the rubber isn't torn, that's not going to be a issue with smell.
  5. Lynn V

    Lynn V New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Jefferson City, MO
    My plumbers think the plumbing is clean, also. But don't know where to go from here. Also, smell not in hot water, but did drain hot water heater and have kept temp at 140 degrees.
  6. Smooky

    Smooky Member

    Messages:
    624
    Location:
    NC
    Over that sink is a window, so where does that vent pipe go?
  7. Lynn V

    Lynn V New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Jefferson City, MO
    I don't know. There is a vent pipe on the roof above it, but don't know exactly how it is connected. When the house was smoked, smoke came up through both vents. However, we only cut the drywall out, which covered the area from the top of the sink to the black joint, after it was smoked. The plumber did say that he could not get anything to move, so he thought the joint was solid.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    2,386
    Location:
    IL
    1. Did any of the plumbers or others say what they thought the smell smelled like? Plumbers would be able to distinguish the smell of plumbing from a dead animal etc, I would think.

    2. Do you smell the smell at the kitchen sink all of the time, or just when water is being used somewhere?

    3. I have an idea for measuring the pressure at the far side of the P trap under the sink.( Before doing this, wait until somebody agrees this would be worthwhile. ) Get about 6 to 10 feet of clear plastic tubing. Old oxygen tubing would be good for this if it is small enough to get through the drain. Push one end of the tubing down the sink drain about 3 feet. That will move the tip through the trap to the other side. Blow the free end hard to blow out any water. Put the free end into a glass of water and push to near the bottom of the glass. Rig something to hold the tube.... Note how high in the free end of the tube the water level goes. Ideally, it will be at the same level as the water in the glass. If the level in the tube is lower than the level in the glass, measure the difference as best you can. Keep it there for a while, and note changes when you operate various plumbing. Maybe do a load of wash.

    4. Grinding ice cubes in the garbage disposal is one way to clean a disposer.You even put in a new disposer, so I think we can eliminate the disposer.

    5. I am curious what that clear corrugated tube is. I doubt it is related to your smell, but what is it?

    I am not a pro or expert on plumbing.
  9. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,118
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    She doesn't have a disposer. So yes, that's elimated.

    That's the dishwasher drain.
  10. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    2,386
    Location:
    IL
    huge1.jpg
    I was referring to what I labeled A. Isn't the dishwasher what I labeled as B?

    D would be the sprayer hose.
  11. Lynn V

    Lynn V New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Jefferson City, MO
    Thank you all for your comments - I really appreciate your efforts. Terry is correct - both A and B are dishwasher hose. D is the hose to the sink sprayer. I do not have the smell all of the time coming up thru the drain. In this weather, I close up the house at night. When I open doors and windows in the day, the smell will immediately waft up thru the drain and dishwasher. It will subside for a while and then it will become noticeable again. Sometimes after closing up the house and cleaning the drain with vinegar and baking soda, I can use the dishwasher with no odor. Odor does seem to get a lot worse with several loads of laundry during the day (no odor in washing machine or in drains in that area). You ask what does it smell like? The plumber did not think it smelled particularly of sewer gas. More like very dirty dishwater or maybe a cross between sewer gas and dirty dishwasher, but hard to describe. No dead animals. This has been going on for over a year. (I was very sick for a long time and was not able to attack this problem sooner.) It has also seemed a lot worse during the last two summers.
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,811
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Hot water which is what dishwashers use, can develop a "rotten egg" smell similar to sewer gas. This can permeate the building, but is most obvious in closed areas such as dishwashers, or after prolonged hot water usage, such as tubs and showers. I had to replace a water heater last week that could not be purged of the odor.
  13. Lynn V

    Lynn V New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Jefferson City, MO
    Thank you. It is not a sulphur smell. Also, I replaced the hot water heater a year ago, and the smell started before that. I do not notice any smell when I run the hot water even to where it is steaming. I have drained it and I do keep the temp above 140 degrees. Also, when I used to wash glasses in dishwasher (I now use disposables), they would often smell strongly like my cats after I put water (bottled) in them. From other threads, I picked up that eggs might be causing this, so I no longer wash anything used for cooking eggs without first cleaning in cold water and soap. Oh, no 'possums in house either!
  14. Smooky

    Smooky Member

    Messages:
    624
    Location:
    NC
    “Odor does seem to get a lot worse with several loads of laundry during the day”

    This sounds like a venting issue. When the washer drains a lot of water is going down the pipe. The water causes a vacuum behind the water if there is no air coming in the vent pipe or if it is not vented correctly. The vacuum can suck water out of the p-trap in the sink. If this is happening you may here a (glug, glug, glug) sound in the sink drain when the washer is draining.

    “When I open doors and windows in the day, the smell will immediately waft up”

    If you only notice the odor when you open the doors and windows, then that may be a different issue.
  15. Lynn V

    Lynn V New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Jefferson City, MO
    I have not noticed a glug when the washer is being used, but I will remember to listen when I wash tomorrow. I have associated the increased odor when doors and windows are open with a decrease in pressure in the house and therefore less pressure on the drain and it takes less force for the odor to get thru two traps and a dishwasher hose (unprofessional, seat of the pants opinion only). Also, last night I read something about how traps that had been dry for a long time might have bacteria and just need to be cleaned real well. So I used baking soda/vinegar in the two drains that had been dry in the basement, the kitchen sink, and the bathroom and followed it up with bleach. This definitely made the odor more strongly waft up thru the dishwasher, which has a trap by the way, but not up thru the kitchen sink.
  16. ThomPlumb

    ThomPlumb New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    NY
    In you first post you said two traps didn't have water in them, which two? Do they now? It definitely sounds like you might have a vent problem. Do you have a picture of the drain below?

    “When I open doors and windows in the day, the smell will immediately waft up”

    This would make sense if the traps have been siphoned out, the cross breeze will carry the rising gas as spread it through the house.
  17. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,129
    Location:
    New England
    There are only two reasons a trap might end up dry that I know of: that fixture has not been used regularly (or ever) and evaporation eventually ends up dry, or the plumbing drains are not done correctly and waste going down the drain creates a suction and sucks it dry.

    Also note that very long sink drop pipes (the pipe coming out of the drain of the sink) before the trap means that there's a lot of surface area for crud to potentially accumulate. It can scour clean, depending on what is regularly run down the drain, but it can also accumulate and smell nasty.

    Individual sinks that have an overflow (this would include the tub) can get crud in that overflow passage and smell pretty nasty, too.
  18. Lynn V

    Lynn V New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Jefferson City, MO
    OKay, I spent the day doing laundry and watching and listening to the kitchen drain. There was no glug, and I was also watching the level of the trap with a flashlight. It had some soap in it, and nary a bubble even shook while the washing machine was draining. The odor was still evident in the drain (unpleasant to keep my head close) but today not bad enough that someone would notice it in the kitchen. This is what confounds my plumbers. They cannot understand how an odor could get thru the trap in the sink as well as the dishwasher drain hose and the trap in the dishwasher. However, there is no odor whatsoever under the cabinet.

    To Jim: the dry traps were in the basement and not used for a long time - they were an old washing machine discharge point and the sink drain in the basement bathroom, also never used. However, there was no odor ever coming up thru those. I put water in them, I have cleaned them, and I inspect all basement drains and toilet every week to make sure they have water. We have cleaned the overflow in the bathroom, but that did not change the odor there (although that has always been very slight.) I don't know what you mean by "long" pipe - how long is long? However, I can see down the pipe in the kitchen and it is clean. After the trap, there is a long pipe down to the basement drain (about one story). Could there be something in that pipe, even tho I have cleaned and cleaned the drain above it?

    As a point of information, there are three discharge drains that exit the house from the basement (not counting the basement floor drains, of which there are four but I don't know where those go). Because my house is on a hill, these drains all exit close to ground level even tho it is a basement.

    One discharge drain handles the washing machine and a sink (both in basement); no odor there.

    The second handles the main level bathroom, toilet and tub. We've found some issues here (loose vent and cleanout, which have been fixed). There is a slight odor coming from the bathroom drain.

    The third handles the kitchen sink and dishwasher and the basement bathroom (never used, but as I said, I am now keeping traps full). The kitchen sink and the dishwasher are the worst offenders; no odor in the basement bathroom.

    That also seems to indicate some connection between the two discharge pipes that exit separately from the house? They have the same vent pipe up thru the roof. Does that mean anything?

    To Thomplumb: I think I have answered your questions also with the info on this reply. If not, let me know.

    In I've missed someone's questions, let me know. Thank you all again for your continuing to try to help me with this problem. If I am using plumber terms wrongly, please let me know!
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  19. Lynn V

    Lynn V New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Location:
    Jefferson City, MO
    Okay. Since I've received no more responses, I assume that you all are either out of ideas or I posted too much info to follow. If I can impose just a bit more, I'd still like some thoughts on where to go next, since all simple and normal solutions/ideas have been tried.

    Facts: Odor comes worst thru dishwasher when washing dishes, bad thru kitchen drain, and sometimes thru bathroom sink drain. All share same vent pipe. I do not smell all of the time.

    The trap in the kitchen drain is never dry or even affected. I've checked while running shower, washing clothes, flushing toilet, and draining dishwasher (well, I can see the water drain thru the trap on this one, but no change in level.)

    I have been unable to solidly identify the odor, and neither has the plumber.

    What do you recommend next? Tearing out kitchen cabinets to further investigate vent pipes? Snaking the kitchen drain?
    Anything? Ask people over to try to pin down the odor? Move and take the loss on the house?
  20. jm66208

    jm66208 Member

    Messages:
    99
    Location:
    KC
    My gut feeling is that it is not a vent issue on that kitchen drain, but to eliminate that possibility, could she cut the vent above the sanitary tee & temporarily install an AAV to eliminate that possibility.

    Another thought. since you say your dishes smell, could you be using some unusual cleaning products that are causing a reaction?

    And lastly, maybe you're just plain crazy... ;-)
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2013
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