Have you ever stepped into your shower, awaiting a nice, refreshing shower, only to be struck by an awful smell? Just what makes you shower drain smell like sulfur? Whatever you do, don’t dismiss the smell. It could be the sign of a serious problem, a sewer leak. We’ll discuss what you need to know about your smelly shower drain and how you can get it fixed.

What is Causing the Sulfur Smell?

Hydrogen sulfide makes the sulfur or rotten egg smell you’re now too familiar with. The gas is created by a bacteria that is common in sewer lines. Either this bacteria is growing somewhere in your plumbing system, or there is a leak in your sewer line that is allowing the gas and/or the bacteria to leak out. You’ll need a plumber to determine which problem is the cause of the smell.

1. Bacteria Growth

There are lots of different types of bacteria that grow in your drainage system (including a couple of useful types), and it is common for hydrogen sulfide gas-producing bacteria to grow in your shower drain.

It is common for this bacteria to start growing in the water heater and spread throughout your system. The heater may be set to the wrong temperature or may need to be drained and cleaned. Otherwise, the bacteria may have found other ideal conditions for growth somewhere in your plumbing system. If the bacteria is growing in your drain, it’s growing in other parts of your system too.

2. Sewer Leak

If the smell is the result of a sewer leak, you may have a plumbing emergency on your hands. Sewer water is black water that carries other harmful bacteria, not just the one making the rotten egg smell. Plus, if a sewer leak is left unchecked it can soak parts of your home and cause damage. If you smell sulfur in your shower drain you should call a plumber to make sure it’s not the result of a sewer leak.

How Do I Remove the Sulfur Smell?

Do not attempt DIY options like pouring lemon juice or vinegar down your drain. Instead, contact an experienced plumber so that they can find the source of the bacteria, clean the bacteria out, and fix any leaks that may have caused the smell.

Why Shouldn’t I Pour Something Down My Drain?

Pouring cleaners and chemicals down your shower drain may mask the problem, but won’t work for long. If the bacteria is in your shower drain, it’s also in other parts of your plumbing system which you can’t access, like the supply line or the hot water heater. If you don’t remove all of the bacteria, it will re-grow, and you’ll need to keep cleaning your drain.

If the bacteria growth or smell is actually caused by a sewer leak, you may be putting your own safety at risk by trying to mask the smell with home remedies. Sewer gases and the black water from the leak can both be major safety hazards, spreading diseases and damaging your home.

After a black water leak, everything the water touches needs to be disinfected with professional cleaners. So, it is best to limit the damage by getting expert help right away when you smell sulfur in your shower drain.