At ASI, we’re very much in the camp of leaving hard jobs to the professionals. When a job is easy enough to do on your own, we believe in helping you through it. One of the easiest, and most productive, DIY plumbing fixes is emptying the P-trap. Here are our steps for the best way to clean a P-trap.
What is a P-Trap?
Appliances and fixtures that collect and drain water usually have a u-shaped pipe underneath it. This u-shaped pipe is often referred to as a P-trap, short for plumbing trap.
Almost any basin that collects water has a u-shaped pipe underneath it. This pipe is sometimes called a “plumbing trap,” or P-trap.
The sharp drop in the u shape creates a gravity barrier that stops undesirable odors and gasses from coming back up through the pipes.
A major reason the P-trap works is because it is filled with water. This water acts as a protective barrier between the stinky sewer line and you clean home.
When a P-trap’s water empties, it can break the scent seal. This happens in sinks that don’t traditionally see a lot of use. Think utility sinks or anything in a guest bathroom.
When this happens, first run the water for 10-15 seconds. This should literally wash away the smell and create a new barrier.
Despite this, there are times when running the water won’t help. This is when you can follow the steps below to clean a P-trap.
Step by Step: How to Clean a P-Trap
- Bucket – Catch all the water and other debris in your pipes
- Flexible Wire Brush – Great for getting to the bottom of the curved trap.
- Pliers or Adjustable Wrench – Sometimes, the nuts are a little hard to crack.
Step 1: Turn off the Water Faucet
One of the things that makes cleaning the P-trap easy is that you don’t need to shut off the water to the whole house. Just make sure the sink isn’t running.
Even though the water is off, there will still be a mess of water—and other debris—in the P-trap. This is why we recommend putting the bucket under the trap before you even start to remove it.
Step 2: Remove the P-Trap
This is where the magic happens. When it’s time to remove the P-trap most people just need their hands and a washcloth.
Simply hold the connecting pipe to keep it in place, and unscrew the nut holding the P-trap in place. Do the same to the other side and you should be able to remove the P-trap.
Remember that even as soon as you loosen the nuts, water will start to come spilling out from the pipe. It all depends on how full the P-trap is.
Carefully remove the P-trap, dump its contents into the bucket, and move on to step 3.
Step 3: Clean the P-Trap
Cleaning the P-trap is an incredibly easy task. Start by manually pulling out anything visible and dump that into the bucket or a trash bin.
Next get the flexible wire brush, wet it, and get to work. Simply push the brush through the pipe to remove anything that may be stuck inside.
Clean the pipe until there is no more residue sticking to the brush.
Step 4: Put Everything Back Together
Now that you have a nice and clean pipe, it’s time to put everything back together. This process is just as easy as taking it all apart.
Make sure to line up the pipe correctly and screw the nuts back into place. Just know, the long end of the pipe faces the front and short end is in the back.
Now, screw the nuts back on. Don’t push too hard, but you may need the pliers or wrench to make sure everything is sealed.
However, we’re not done yet. You still need to test the pipe.
Run the water for 15 seconds and watch the P-trap. No leaks mean you’re good to finish and clean everything up.
Water coming from the nuts mean you may need to tighten them or reinforce the seal with Teflon tape.
How Often Should I Clean my P-Trap?
At ASI, our plumbers recommending cleaning your P-trap once every three months. This helps keep your line clear water freely flowing.
Dealing with anything bigger? Time to call the plumbing experts at ASI, the White Glove Guys.