Sometimes plumbing can seem like a mystery. We’re here to clear it up for you! One piece of plumbing most people know about is the P-Trap. It’s under most residential sinks and we think you’ll know it when you see it. It actually looks like the letter “U” when you peek under your bathroom or kitchen sink and it performs a vital function for any sink drain
How a P-Trap Works
The P-Trap has a P-Shape when viewed from an upright angle. It was first known as an S-Bend and invented in 1775 by Alexander Cummings. One hundred and five years later, Thomas Crapper modernized the S-Shaped pipe into a U-Shape design that’s still in use today, but we know it as the P-Trap ever since.
It works by using gravity to trap drain water in the bend of the pipe. Why is this important? It’s important because the standing water in the pipe blocks gases in the drain lines from entering back into your home. Most importantly thanks to your P-trap, your bathroom doesn’t smell like a sewer!
Besides that the bend in the P-Trap also serves as a recovery point for lost rings and other items that accidentally fall into the drain. You can remove it to clear clogs before and after it in the drain line. Also for large or metal drain lines on bathtub and shower drains, a marvelous invention called a “plug” can be unscrewed to clear out the P-Trap. As a result this can save hundreds of dollars in costly repairs and leave the pipes intact without cutting them off.
Clogged Drain? P-Trap Quick Fix
If you have a plumbing issues, leak or your sink drain is SLOW, you might want to check and replace your P-Trap under your sink. Usually there’s a good chance that you can fix a clogged or leaky drain yourself.
Is it dripping?
Check the slip joint washers on the plastic P-Trap. Usually the slip joint washer is either loose or degrading. You can simply loosen up the slip joint nuts and inspect the washers. Even though they are supposed to only finger-tight, you may need two hands or a wrench if not. Just unscrew both slip joint nuts and remove the entire U-shaped part to remove a clog. Don’t forget to place a pan or small bucket under your trap because it is full of water and will spill out a bit.
If washers appear to be in good shape, reposition them on the pipe and tighten the nuts. However If they look worn or have signs of wear, simply replace them with new ones that can be found at any hardware store. Measure the diameter of the pipe, this will tell you what size slip joint washers you’ll need. Drain pipes for sinks in residential homes should be either 1 1/2” or 1 1/4”. Drains for bathtubs and shower units are usually 2” in diameter; however, it’s always a good idea to measure them to make sure.
What’s a P-Trap Made From?
Modern plumbing materials for P-Traps are mostly engineered with black ABS plastic, white PVC, brass, copper, and chromed metal. If you want to replace a P-Trap? You can select a different material or use the existing material. For the most part you can fix PVC P-Traps under sinks by buying a kit from your local hardware store or online. You also can easily find all of the common sizes like 1 1/4”, 1 1/2”, and 2”. The plumbing kit comes with everything you need to replace your P-Trap.
It’s also important to remember, some kits utilize an articulated and flexible tailpiece extension or trap arm. This makes it easy to install a P-Trap in situations where pipes are offset; however, most professional plumbers will not recommend using this type of material because of the ridges inside the component. They’re collecting debris and generating clogs. Some local plumbing codes ban the use of these devices.
Have a complex or metal P-Trap drain that needs replacement, and you’re unsure how to go about it?
Contact Henry Plumbing! We have over 50 years of experience in the greater Savannah GA area. Metal P-Traps require specialized tools like torches and pipe cutters. Soldering the pipes is also required, and these types of repairs are better left to the professionals.
We handle all kinds of Savannah-area plumbing projects including P-Traps and dealing with clogged drains. Let us know when you need a Savannah plumber you can rely on!