How to Clean P Traps


A common problem in homes is a clogged sink or one that will not drain. Usually, the clog is in the waste trap, or P trap, so named because the pipe is shaped like a letter P. This pipe keeps sewer gas from entering the house and when it gets full of debris, such as food, hair or soap, the waste can come up instead of going down to the sewer. Anyone can clean a trap out by themselves and it just take a few basic materials to get the sink working again.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire coat hanger
  • Pipe wrench
  • P-trap, if necessary
  • Turn off the water supply by shutting off the valve underneath the sink. Set a bucket under the P trap to catch water or debris that may come out of the trap after you remove it.

  • Take off the clean-out plug on the trap by popping it off with a screwdriver. Place a metal coat hanger inside and turn it around to remove the debris. Remove the entire trap if it does not have a clean-out plug.

  • Use a pipe wrench to remove the couplings on the trap. Wrap a cloth around the pipe wrench so you do not damage the pipes.

  • Clear the trap of debris, such as soap and hair, with your fingers.

  • Determine whether the trap is worn out, damaged or needs to be replaced. Purchase a new one from a hardware store, if necessary.

  • Place the trap and couplings back on with the pipe wrench and make sure the connections are tight. Turn on the water and faucet to ensure the sink is not clogged and the pipes are not leaking.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use eye goggles because harmful chemicals could come from the pipes when you pull off the trap.
  • If the sink is still clogged after you have removed the trap, you may need to use a plumber's auger or a long, slender tool. Insert the auger into the drain and twist it until the debris comes up.

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