What's in a P trap, understanding how does a plumbing trap work

Something should be in your P-trap

Now while you might think the correct answer to this question is nothing, actually there should be something that is always in your P trap. And that would be a proper amount of water. The reason for this is, that besides being a possible catch point to keep items from passing deeper into your houses drain system. The P trap under normal operation also acts as a barrier that prevents vapors, gases and odors from entering into your home.

For this reason if you have a spare sink, or tub that may not see normal usage it is important to remember to run water into the drain for just a few seconds periodically. This will keep odors from gathering in these spaces. And as well if you begin to notice you are smelling sewer odors in areas such as, a spare bathroom, a utility sink or even in a basement that may have a separate floor drain this may be the simple solution to the problem.

One such place where this can also be a problem is in a vacation home that is only in use for a few weeks or months a year. There are a few solutions to this scenario for one to consider, one such solution would be to simply pour about a cup or so of vegetable oil in each drain. Since the oil will not evaporate like water and is usually readily available this is a simple solution. And since oil is lighter than water it will easily flush through with the first use.

Another option would be to purchase RV antifreeze; this product can be found at most hardware stores and unlike regular antifreeze is relatively in-expensive. Also unlike regular antifreeze it is totally non-toxic and safe for the environment. RV antifreeze is usually pink in color and comes in a gallon jug much like the ones used for auto windshield washer fluid.

Some-things should not be in your P-trap

Now of course another part of the function of your P-trap is to provide a catch point for heavy, large, or oblong objects. And because of the design the trap provides easy access to any items that might get lodged in the P or U section. By simply loosening the two nuts (after have placed a bucket underneath first of course) you can remove the part of the trap where items may have collected.

Most of the time these nuts should only be hand tightened, but occasionally and more with the chrome traps you may need to have a pipe wrench to loosen them. Some good tips to keep in mind to avoid clogs in your P-traps are; always make sure you repair or replace any damaged or missing strainers, hair traps or pop up valves in lavatory sinks. Another common practice to follow is, be careful what kind of items you flush down your toilet. Items like paper towels, feminine products, large food leftovers, or even something as simple as plastic Q-tips can create the potential for a clog.

So two important things to remember when it comes to your P-trap are, “keep it clean but don’t keep it empty.” Also always remember when using any liquid drain cleaner to use caution: and always follow the directions closely! Happy draining



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