Why does my greywater tank smell?

As greywater tanks receive waste from the laundry and showers, they can sometimes generate foul odors. Although an enormous proportion of this waste is water, there are also lint, hair, soap scum and other particles entering the tank. In fact, the odor from the greywater tank can be so bad that its sometimes mistaken for a septic tank smell.

Should my greywater tank smell bad?

Although there are occasional odors from greywater tanks, your greywater tank should not be stinking on an ongoing basis. The greywater tank allows the hairs and other particles to sink to the bottom of the tank while pushing the water out. A greywater tank contains a submersible pump that begins working when the water rises to a certain height and pumps out the water through the outlet to a sullage hose into the garden or to underground distribution trenches. However, over time, the particles in the bottom of the tank form sludges that stagnate and begin to stink. Greywater tanks need regular pump out to prevent foul odors and to stop the pump from becoming clogged with the sludges and burning out.

How can I stop my greywater tank from smelling?

The first step to preventing smells from the greywater tank is always to ensure its being pumped out regularly. The greywater tank should be pumped out at least every 6 – 12 months. If your greywater tank is not being pumped out regularly, please contact us to book in your greywater tank pump out. Lee’s Environmental provide the highest quality greywater tank pump out service on each occasion. We also provide regular scheduled servicing so you don’t need to worry about remembering when the pump out is next due.

There can be a variety of issues which cause greywater tanks to stink and finding the source of the smell can narrow down the problem. Below are some of the main issues causing the greywater tank to smell.

I clean my greywater tank regularly but it always in bad condition and smells.
Most properties are set up so the greywater tank also receives the water waste from the grease trap. If your grease trap is not being pumped out regularly, the grease will begin to overflow from the outlet along with the water and will enter the greywater tank causing foul odors and eventually burn out the pump. We also offer regular scheduled servicing for grease traps.

There is a bad odor coming up the drain in my shower
If you’re having both your greywater tank and grease trap regularly pumped out and cleaned but there’s a smell coming up from the shower drains, you may need to mask the odor. Pour a few drops of eucalyptus oil down the drain whenever it begins to smell. The oil will both mask the odors with its strong, pleasant scent and also help reduce the cause of the bad odors due to its disinfectant properties.

Check your greywater tank and sullage hose
If you’re regularly cleaning your greywater tank and grease trap and the smell seems to be coming from outside, go out and inspect the greywater tank and the sullage hose.

Is the greywater tank overflowing or shows signs of having overflowed? If so, the pump may be broken and need replacement or the float switch may be stuck. When any these pump issues occur, the water begins to fill up the tank causing it to overflow which will allow the unpleasant odors from the water to escape also. Call Lee’s Environmental to pump out the Greywater Tank and Replace the Pump.

If the pump is working properly and the greywater tank isn’t overflowing , the issue may be with the sullage hose. Depending on the setup at your property, the greywater may run out into distribution trenches or it could run out of a sullage hose into the garden. If your greywater tank has a sullage hose, check the location of the end that allows the water to run into the garden to as it may just need to be moved further away from the house, or a longer hose may need to be installed to place more distance between the end of the hose and the house as greywater always has a slight odor. Please contact us if a longer hose is needed.

My house has a septic system and there is a bad odor somewhere outside
If there is a bad smell wafting around but doesn’t seem to be coming up from the shower drains or from the greywater or sullage hose outside, it may be something else on your property that smells. Most properties that have a greywater tank also have a grease trap which receives waste from the kitchen sink and septic tank which receives waste from the toilet. Either of these tanks could be causing the bad odor. If you think one of these tanks may be causing the smell, please see our pages Why Does My Grease Trap Smell and Why Does My Septic Tank Smell.

If your grease trap, greywater and septic tanks are being maintained regularly and the smell doesn’t seem to be generated from them, the distribution trenches may be causing the smell. Distribution trenches, also called transpiration trenches or drain fields, receive the liquid parts of the waste from the septic tank, grease trap and greywater tank. If there are areas on your yard where grass is always growing prolifically or areas of your property that are always wet, this indicates that the trenches are saturated, blocked or have failed. If you’re experiencing trench problems, Lee’s Environmental offer high pressure drain cleaning called jet rodding which has an 85% success rate of clearing blockages.

Can greywater tank smells be prevented?

The water from a greywater tank will always have a slight odor due to the small waste particles in it which form sludges and stagnate over time. However, the smell should not be pungent and is best kept in check by regular pump out and cleaning of the greywater tank and the grease trap. Don’t forget that Lee’s Environmental can put your property on regular scheduled servicing to make life easier for you.

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