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Thread: Biofilm sludge odor from "pop-up" sink drain

  1. #1

    Biofilm sludge odor from "pop-up" sink drain

    Installed a new bathroom sink that has one of those spring-loaded drains that you push to close / push to open (not the "usual" external lever and linkages). Obviously this means there is some mechanism within the drain stopper (spring, cam, etc). This is a bathroom sink, so toothpaste, mouthwash, etc, get flushed down this drain, and I suspect the sugars (etc) in those are feeding some sort of biofilm that is forming in the mechanisms, because it's causing a bad odor. I can't figure out how to kill/fix it, though - I've disassembled and used bottle brushes, but it comes back quickly. Did I just get a drain with a terrible design with lots of "captive" space inside for things to grow?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    The Hartland of Michigan
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    7,537
    It's probably in the P pipe. Pour a couple pints of drain cleaner in, and let it sit overnight.
    Never, under any circumstances, consume a laxative and sleeping pill, on the same night

  3. #3
    most sinks get enough use that the water in the trap gets washed through regularly, cutting down on such growth. In addition, if you have city water the chlorine in the water should retard such growth. I have neighbors that have iron in their well and the water stinks coming out of the faucet and going down the drain. Yet a /4 mile away, my well is great. Is your trap holding water to block sewer gas? Have you tried a tablespoon of bleach or alcohol based disinfectant? (Not too much if you are on a septic system.)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
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    Columbia MO and Howard County MO
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    593
    I like to think of myself as an artisan... What I really do is dig ditches, clean gutters, and clean the slimy goo from drains. I do not use chemical drain openers. I have done away with the pop-up and the overflow in our lavatory. Any obstructions promote the growth of goo. The waterway for the overflow is almost impossible to keep clean. We now use a 1 1/8 inch basket strainer and a rubber stopper (for the rare occasions that we want to fill the sink).The streamlined drain stays clean for months rather than weeks.
    I have I client that needs her kitchen drains cleaned every month. The rinse water from her reverse osmosis filter tees into her garbage disposal elbow. My theory about her situation is that the R.O. rinse cycle, combined with nooks and crannies in the pipes, promote goo growth. In a bathroom sink the overflow and the pop-up create a paradise for goo.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Doylestown, PA
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    6,921
    We have Pop-Ups. The top unscrews then the gray spring loaded mechanism also unscrews. All that's left is a 3 armed thingy that the spring loaded mechanism screws into.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    SoCal
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maurice Mcmurry View Post
    a paradise for goo.
    What a great industry term . I too have done away with even the lever actuated drain stopper in the bathrooms. I used a screen drop in. Pretty much solves the goo problem. I bought a dozen on Amazon a couple of years ago but the originals are fine over 2 years later. Maybe I over-prepared
    Take me to the hotel - Baggage gone, oh well . . .

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Location
    Spartanburg South Carolina
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    I usually pour some bleach in and let it sit for awhile.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    This is indeed an issue with this type of system...we had that at the old property and had to regularly unscrew the stopper to clean off the black gunk as well as use a small "pipe cleaner" type thing to scrape out the crud just below the pop-up stopper location. I also believe this was from toothpaste and other things that would accumulate. It never had a smell, but if could build up enough to affect draining of the basin for sure.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
    Vinegar an option? I use it a lot for hardwater deposits. That and some baking soda, and it'll eat all the calcium/hard water deposits, and of course, the slime is no issue.
    However, on a septic system now, and not sure if the vinegar, used judiciously, is harmless, mildly so, or absolutely nuclear to the balance of that system (?)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    New England
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    2,106
    From what I understand vinegar is safe for septic systems.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
    Location
    Columbia MO and Howard County MO
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    593
    If I do not have time, the pipes are too crusty, or my client is hesitant to have me take things apart, I use a shop vac (setup for wet) and try to suck bleach solution through the overflow (if there is one). If there is trip lever it can be removed from the back of the tailpiece, plug the hole with a cork or stopper, plug the drain with a rag wad tied to a string, poke the wad down below the overflow chamber, fill the sink with bleach solution and vacuum it out through the overflow (if you can). Some black stinky stuff sometimes comes out. It will be back soon.

  12. #12
    Anyone try these things?
    drainsticks.jpg
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE- make that FOUR now - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
    Location
    Columbia MO and Howard County MO
    Posts
    593
    I will have my client with the problematic drain give those a try.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Millstone, NJ
    Posts
    680
    The drainsticks didnt work for me, at all.

    A big contributer to slow drains is hair. Hair mixed with soap clogs up the drains quickly. My wife and I have a twin vanity and her sink drains fine because I shave my beard over it. I pick up most of it and throw it in the trash but a bunch still gets in. I clean mine out every other month and hers I cant remember doing at all in the last 5 years. I swapped my tailpiece for a commercial grid strainer which has bought me time between cleaning before that It would stop up in under a month.

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