Dry Drains: An Overlooked Plumbing Problem


The drains in your home aren't just designed to carry away liquids, they are also designed to stay wet. You can end up with plumbing problems if they dry out.

Problems With Dry Drains

There are two major issues associated with dry drains — foul odors and clogs. The odors are a result of sewer gasses coming up into your home. When a drain is completely dry, it no longer has the built-in water barrier that is designed to prevent gas backflow up the main drain lines. This means the gasses have a clear point of entry into the room affected by the dry drain. Sewer gas smells like rotten eggs, sulfur, or raw sewage, so it's not something you can ignore.

The other problem is clogs. If a drain goes dry, then any sludge left behind in the pipe or trap will dry out and become hard. When water eventually goes down the drainpipe, it will dislodge these blocks of dry sludge but it won't have time to rehydrate them. This means the sludge blocks can become stuck in the drainpipe and form a clog.

Common Causes

The most common cause for a dry drain is lack of use. This problem often affects bathroom sinks, tubs, or showers that are primarily reserved for guest use, since many weeks can pass without any water down the drain. Drains in accessory buildings that are only used seasonally can also dry out.

In some cases, drains that see some regular use may also dry out if there is a pinpoint leak in the drain trap, which is where liquid is held to create the sewer gas barrier. A small leak in a lightly used drain may not be immediately noticeable, but it can cause the drain to dry out more quickly.

Solutions and Prevention

Once you have a dry drain, it is best to bring in a plumber to clean out the pipe so there is no hardened sludge to cause clogs. They can also check the trap to verify that there are no leaks, and replace the pipe if any leaks are found.

The best preventative tactic is to pour water down every drain in your home at least once a week. You can pour water down the drain with a bucket, such as when wetting floor drains, or you can use the tap. Hot water is best since it will clear out any sludge that may be forming as well.

Contact a plumber if you need more help with your drains or plumbing system.


22 February 2021

A New Kind of Piping Makes DIY Plumbing Easier

My homes have always had either copper or PVC plumbing pipes. But when my plumbing system needed an overhaul last spring, I wanted a piping system for my home that I could work on myself when needed. There were a lot of good reasons to choose PEX piping, but my favorite thing about the PEX piping is that it's easy to work with, even if you're a beginner like me. Now I can make small repairs myself instead of calling the plumber every time I have a minor leak or other small problem. I still call the plumber for the big stuff, but it's more affordable now that I can take care of small issues myself. I started this blog to help others learn how they, too, can do DIY plumbing repairs at home.