Foul smell from washer drain

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by shocknawe, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. shocknawe

    shocknawe New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Since purchasing the higher efficient washer, we've noticed a foul smell from the washer drain. Since these newer washer use less water, I'm thinking that the p-trap has dried up and now the washer can not keep it filled. The p-trap is about 10 feet away from the drain due to the configuration of my home. Any easy remedies?
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,118
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    It only takes a little bit of water to fill a p-trap.
    The bigger question would be, how far from the p-trap is the vent.
    The vent is what prevents the trap from siphoning.
  3. shocknawe

    shocknawe New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Terry,

    The vent is probably no further than 10', but not sure I'll have to check. We never had the smell before installing the newer washer. However, I guess the vent could have been partially clogged prior to installing the newer washer, and now it has reared it's foulness. My house was build in 1971 and more than likely codes were not built to current codes. I believe I have two vents in this ranch style home with two full baths and a dishwasher. The second bathroom was added in 1999 prior to me purchasing the home.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2009
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,118
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If were plumbed in Washington, the vent would need to be within five feet.

    Since the smell is new, it could be something else.
  5. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Yes, and it is quite possibly directly related to the washer, itself. My wife and I still have an older top-loader, but I have read about some of today's front-loaders having serious odor problems internally.
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,129
    Location:
    New England
    Stick you head by the door to the washer to see if it is coming from the washer. It is reported to help if you leave the door open when finished so it can dry out. You could try a good rinse with bleach. Soap scum can smell pretty nasty if it builds up in a washer, especially if it starts to grow mildew.
  7. shocknawe

    shocknawe New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Kentucky
    It only smells when the washer is draining. The rest of the time there are no odors coming from the laundry room.
  8. TedL

    TedL New Member

    Messages:
    604
    Location:
    NY Capital District
    One guess: Did the old drain hose fit snugly in the standpipe, while the new is smaller, letting air from the standpipe into the room?

    Another: I was in an rental two family 35 years ago with a sump tied into the partially blocked main drain. Washer was too much for main line, so some discharge went backed sump. Sump pump was also too much for main, so some discharge backed up into washer, due to snug fitting drain hose.
  9. shocknawe

    shocknawe New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Kentucky
    TEDL.

    I don't recall the drain hose fitting any tighter than the current one. I don't think the second guess applies for me.
  10. wondering

    wondering Member

    Messages:
    106
    Do you use liquid detergent? Do you use liquid fabric softener? They are the biggest enemies of the front load washer. Also you must use HE detergent. Powder works best/liquids tend to build up and form the scum/crud which then starts the mold/mildew process. There is a product now from Whirlpool called Affresh that you run through the washer ever so often which would also help the drain. LG also recommends using Whirlout in their washers to get the crud out. You can find these at Home Depot/Lowes or online.
    You could also run your machine through a Hot cycle with bleach and dishwasher powder(Electrasol/Cascade) 1 cup bleach and 1 cup dishwasher detergent. This will help as does running 2 cups vinegar through it on occasion.
    Another thing is the amount of detergent you use. The amount listed on the bottle/box is always too much--hence use it quicker-buy more quicker-more money for manufacturers. For an HE machine you should use (for liquids)
    2 Tablespoons of the non-concentrated
    1 Tablespoon of the 2X concentrated
    1 Teaspoon of the 3X concentrated
    These are the amounts LG recommends plus a service tech backed this up. Using more is what causes the smells because it doesn't get washed out of the machine and then starts smelling. You could also add some Oxi-Clean to your wash. That and Borax seems to keep the smells from getting out of control, and as said in an above post always leave the door open when you finish and open the detergent drawer and let it dry out also.

    There is a lot of preventive maintenance to these expensive machines.
    Also for some reason, seems liquid Tide HE causes more smells than some of the other brands.

    Depending on which brand you have, there is a trap underneath that needs cleaning ever so often. It catches trash, pins,coins etc. and it can also start to smell.

    Hope this helps!
  11. biguggy

    biguggy New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Newfoundland
    This response has virtually nothing to do with the plumbing associated with the causes of foul odours from front load washing machines.

    In my opinion there is no panacea to the problem of foul odours from front load washers.

    I have seen posts where it was stated to have been traced to the discharge pipe pushed to far down the drain pipe allowing water to siphon back into the machine. Most machines I know of have a non-return valve to prevent this, and prevent any water in the pipe draining back into the machine. These, even if fitted, may have been defective. (This is the only 'plumbing' related cause I am aware of.)

    I have seen posts where the smell has been stated to be traced to small items of clothing, baby clothes, socks, ladies flimsies etc. that have got stuck 'somewhere in the works' and are cheerfully rotting away.

    Use of excess detergent and/or fabric softener very often coupled with use of other than HOT water. This allows build-ups of these laundry aids to form and then start turning foul. HOT water alone will sometimes get rid of these build-ups. Sometimes the assistance cleaners such as 'Affresh' will help, sometimes not.

    In my opinion there are three, normally overlooked, sources of these fouls odours: -

    1. The recesses in the hubs of the spiders fitted to many of these machines will retain water even after the fastest spin. This 'water' will contain, inter alia, unused laundry aids (detergent, bleach, fabric softener etc), soil, the products of the interactions between the laundry aids and the soil, the products of the interactions between the laundry aids and the chemicals in the 'tap' water, and 'unused' chemicals in the 'tap' water. When left over time the water will turn foul smelling. A photograph of such a build-up can be seen at: -



    [​IMG]

    2. The products of corrosion on the spiders retain small quantities of water after the final spin giving the same result as above.

    Many posts on many sites claim that the corrosion of the spiders is due to galvanic action. I do not agree, I believe it is primarily chemical corrosion.
    Should the corrosion have been galvanic between the stainless steel drum and the aluminium spider the majority of the corrosion would have been at the junction of the two metals i.e. at the ends of the arms. I have seen no photographs of spiders corroded in such a manner, nor read of any similar descriptions.

    Aluminium, and its alloys are corroded when immersed in an aqueous solution with a pH value above about 8.0 or below about 4.0 (nitric acid is a well known exception). All detergents have to be above about 8.0 or they would not work. The Material Safety Data Sheets put out by Proctor and Gamble state that the pH for one of the liquid 'Tides' is 8.0 and for one of the 'Tide' powdered detergents as 11.0. Bleach, (sodium hypochlorite) is also very corrosive to aluminium. I should add that for corrosion of the spider to take place these levels are considerably above the levels found in a washing machine during the wash/rinse phases of the cycle.

    Sodium carbonate (washing soda) and sodium percarbonate found in some laundry aids (Affresh and Oxi-Clean [powder]) are also corrosive to aluminium and its alloys, as is borax, provided the required concentrations are reached.

    I believe the mechanics of the corrosion are as follows.
    Even after the fastest spin small quantities of water will remain on the shaft and towards the centre of the spider. Any recesses in the spider close to the centre will aggravate this situation. This water will contain 'contaminants' as detailed above. Should sufficient of these 'contaminants' be present the pH of the mixture can, as evaporation takes place, rise to a level where corrosion will take place.

    Corroded spiders can be seen at: -

    http://fixitnow.com/wp/2009/10/28/f...ion-contagion-a-menagerie-of-metallic-misery/

    http://softsolder.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/sears-kenmore-he3-washer-drum-the-rot/

    and for a LG spider

    http://www.viewpoints.com/LG-TROMM-Front-Load-Washers-review-33dc10


    For information on galvanic corrosion there is a very good paper at: -

    http://www.unene.ca/un1001/UN1001_Galvanic Corrosion.ppt

    For information on chemical corrosion of aluminium (or 'micro galvanic corrosion as the author calls it, I grew up calling it 'pitting corrosion) there is an informative paper at: -http://www.sintef.no/static/mt/norlight/seminars/norlight2003/Postere/Gaute Svenningsen.pdf


    The only front load washers readily available in North America that I am aware of that do not have recesses close to the centre are Miele and Speed Queen. However there are numerous complaints on the internet about foul odours from these machines, in their favour is the fact that spider failures are virtually impossible to find.


    3. The recesses in the rear section of the outer tubs will also retain water and contaminants similar to those in the spiders but will not get the centrifugal effect to to remove the water, and its contaminants, that the spiders do.

    A further point is that the principal product of the corrosion of the spider is aluminium oxide, the same material that provides the 'grit' for sandpapers. When carried in suspsion in the 'water' I believe it will make a very effective lapping compound leading to the early demise of the spider shaft seal and subsequently the spider shaft bearings.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2013
  12. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Odors INSIDE front load machines are common. If your trap is that far a way, you have a lot of pipe which can have stagnant water in it. Running a washing machine about once a month is all that would be necessary to not dry out the trap.

    By the way, can you describe the odor? If it was related to the TRAP, it would be the traditional sewer gas odor. The smell of must/mildew/grunge associated with washing machines is different.
  13. biguggy

    biguggy New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Newfoundland

    jimbo - owing to the length of time between my post above and the previous post in this thread I can only conclude that your post was directed to me.

    I am not a plumber, but a retired old guy quietly passing my declining years in a quiet rural setting. The slightest hint of anything foul smelling in our household is detected by my dearly beloved way before anyone or anything else. (The family joke is that she can smell it when the neighbours break wind). That being said the slightest whiff from anything in our home has to be investigated long before I can smell it. Foul odours from the washing machines of relatives and friends I can smell, and there is normally no doubt where they are coming from!!!

    I do agree with you that the odour due to sewer gases is at variance to the smells normally emanating from the washing machines. On a personal note I have never smelt sewer gas in a washer, but I have not smelt very many, and can easily see how it could occur.

    Thank you for your time.
Similar Threads: Foul smell
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Foul Smell in 7 year old laundry room Jul 9, 2008
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice foul odor in all drains Oct 19, 2009
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Foul odor in laundry room - has lasted at least 4 months... Jun 16, 2008
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Foul water in my basement... May 13, 2008
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Foul odor near ejector pump Sep 24, 2006

Share This Page