Prevent Plumbing Odors When Closing Your Vacation Home

Written by Marion J. Lougheed
Updated June 15, 2021
Drop-in cleaners often just mask a drain odor and don’t take care of the root of the problem. A plumber can help eliminate odors where they start. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Kristen M. of Franklin, N.J.)

If and when closing your vacation home, you may encounter plumbing issues such as bad odors emanating from plumbing pipes.

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If you’re closing your vacation home for the offseason, you may be considering how to fight off unwanted odors that can build up in your home’s plumbing system while you’re away.

In an otherwise clean house, most unwanted odors will typically come from the drains. If you have ever reopened your home and visited the bathroom, only to be engulfed in the smell of sewer gas, you may have wondered where this problem originates.

The problem can also occur in non-vacation homes. Masking the scent with air fresheners or other odor-eliminating products may work in the short term, but there are more effective ways to prevent the odor from arising.

One simple way to prevent potential plumbing problems, including odor and the issue of clogged drains, is to use a filter over the drain to prevent anything solid like food particles or hair from going down the drain.

Cleaning out the filter and throwing the collected solids in the garbage, rather than the drain, can go a long way towards those items becoming stuck in drain pipes and producing odors as they decay.

Some homeowners may be tempted to pour bleach or other cleaning fluids down the drain to eliminate odors. However, in many cases these products can do more harm than good. If you use the wrong product or too much of a cleaning product, the traps designed to keep odors from emanating can break down, making the problem worse.

Other sources of odors include incorrectly installed bathroom and kitchen fans and vents, which can actually pull septic fumes from the drain. If you had a plumber install these features and they’re installed incorrectly, you may want to use a different plumber to correct the problem.

Once you have found a contractor or service that does a good job, you can do what one Angie's List member does with plumbers in Charlotte, that is, hire the same people for every property you have. "I use them on a regular basis since I own some properties," the reviewer writes, referring to Three Way Plumbing in Concord, N.C. "I have been using them for three years and they have very good quality service. They respond promptly, do the work well and I will use them again in the future."

If your plumbers and other service people come from a company you already know, you can count on consistent care. For those who live close enough to their vacation home to hire the same contractors for both places of residence, this can be a great option. In the meantime, keeping these few tips in mind can help you destroy drain odors before they occur.

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