How You Can Check P-Traps for a Clog
A slow-running drain might seem like a minor annoyance in a commercial building where everyone’s focused on the job at hand, but ignore that drain for too long and it will turn into a big, messy headache.
Because slow drains are often caused by easily corrected issues, such as a clogged P-trap, it’s smart to inspect your drain as soon as you notice a problem.
Inspecting Your P-trap
The P-trap is the P-shaped section of pipe in the line that runs from the bottom of your sink to the wall. It’s shaped this way to trap sewer gasses and prevent them from coming out the sink as well as to catch debris that’s been washed down the sink, such as hair or food scraps. This prevents the debris from moving deeper into your plumbing system where it could cause a clog that’s much harder to access and dissolve.
Because of its secondary purpose, the P-trap is designed to be easy to remove and clean. While the job is simple, it can get messy, so be prepared with:
- Rubber gloves
- Plumbing wrench (optional)
Place the bucket under the pipes to catch any water or debris that spills out when you remove the trap. Then put on your rubber gloves, which will keep your hands clean and help you grip the pipe. The P-trap is held in place by slip nuts on the top and bottom, which you can most likely loosen with your gloved hands. If the nuts won’t loosen this way, use a plumbing wrench to loosen them.
If you don’t have a plumbing wrench, adjustable pliers can also help. Once the nuts are loose, slide them away from the p-trap and pull the trap out.
You’ll most likely find a lot of gunk inside the trap. Remove this with your fingers or run water through the trap into the bucket to flush out the gunk and any clogs. Then use your cleaning rag to make sure the trap is completely clear and reinstall the P-trap.
Now turn on the sink faucet to check if the sink drains as it should now. If it’s still slow, then the clog is most likely in another part of the pipes under your sink.
Unclogging Your Slow-Flowing Drain
Even if cleaning the P-trap doesn’t solve your problem, there’s still a good chance you can clear the clog yourself. Start by removing the the pivot rod under the sink that holds in the sink stopper. Unscrew the pivot nut and pull out the rod. Next, remove the stopper for better access to the drain. Position a sink plunger (the type without the rubber flange) over the drain and add enough water to half cover the rubber of the plunger. Vigorously plunge the sink for around 15 seconds.
If this doesn’t clear the clog, move on to a drain snake (hand auger). Insert the snake into the drain and unwind it to push it further into the drain where it should be able to push through the clog. You might need to run the snake down the drain several times.
If the clog refuses to budge, contact a professional plumber. Trying to force the clog down or pouring caustic chemicals into your drain can damage your pipes. A plumber has the skills and tools to clear clogs without causing damage.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information about maintaining your p-trap and the rest of your plumbing, and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!