Four Tips to Eliminate Smelly Commercial Building Drains

If you own a commercial building, particularly one that houses several business tenants, you don't want smelly drains in restrooms and other public areas to give a bad impression to either your tenants or your clients. Problems like this can lead to tenants moving out and low occupancy rates. The following can help you determine why the drains are smelling so bad so you can fix the problem.

1. Venting Issues

Every plumbing system needs to be vented to the roof. Not only do vents keep drains running smoothly, but they also ensure sewer gases don't back up into the building -- instead they harmlessly vent from the roof. Commercial buildings often have flat roofs that attract birds. Birds may nest on top of or even in the plumbing vents because the air coming out is usually warm. This blocks the vents and leads to slow drains and gas back up into the building. Cleaning the vents and adding vent caps can solve the problem.

2. Dry Drain Traps

Some drains in a building are overused, but sometimes some drains are rarely used. This can be floor drains in little-used restrooms or the basement of the building. When a drain doesn't regularly have water flowing through it, the water that is supposed to remain in the trap pipe below the drain dries out. Drain traps hold water as a barrier so odors can come up the pipe and into the room. Dry drains have no barrier. You need to pour water down little-used drains weekly to prevent this problem.

3. Greasy Sludge

Does your building have a cafe, cafeteria, or restaurant in it? If so, grease and oils from the kitchen could lead to smelly drains throughout the building. Fats, oils, and grease that are poured down the drain coat the inside of the drain pipes. Then remaining residue that goes down the drain gets stuck in the grease. Not only do you have to contend with odors from this gunk, but drain backups are also more likely. Have a plumber install a grease trap and then maintain it properly to prevent issues.

4. Dirty Drain Lines

Sometimes smells are just the result of old, dirty drain lines. They may not be dirty enough to backup, but there may be enough soap scum and biofilm in them to create a foul odor. Drain cleaning solves the problem. Your plumber can use high-pressure jets of water to remove the scum buildup and eliminate the odor.

Contact a commercial plumbing service if the odors from your building's drains persist.