The curvy pipe under your sink is called the P-trap. It’s designed to prevent noxious gases from backing up through a drain by holding water in the bend, sealing the trap. Also, its shape makes it possible to recover dropped items (like wedding rings) that may otherwise be lost in the drain.
Hair, accumulated soap, and dirt can all clog the drain over time, but this can be easily fixed. It is relatively simple to remove and replace a leaky or clogged P-trap without spending the money on a plumber.
Step 1 – Prepare
Before you start, put on your gloves to protect your hands from any contaminated or decayed material that you might come in contact with during the process. Also, wear a face mask to keep yourself from inhaling any mold spores or other airborne contaminants that might be present in the trap
Next, you need to make sure the water is turned off completely. Turn off the taps, but also close the valves under the sink. You don’t want someone to turn on the water if you walk away from the job for a moment. Test that the water is completely off by turning the tap on once more. Then, place the bucket below the drain before pulling out the P-trap to capture any fluid or objects from spill out when you remove it.
Step 2 – Remove the P-trap
Use a pair of channel-lock pliers to loosen the nuts at the top and bottom of the P-trap. If they’re tight, you may have to use some force, but be gentle so you don’t crack the tail piece coming from the sink, the trap itself, or the drain stub coming from the wall. After loosening the nuts, unscrew them the rest of the way with your hand. Once the nuts are off, carefully remove the P-trap, ensuring that the contents do not fall anywhere other than the bucket placed under it.
Step 3 – Empty and Clean the P-trap
Empty out all the contents of the trap. Expect all kinds of debris such as hair, slime, and dirt. This is where the gloves come in handy. If you are looking for an object that could have fallen into the drain, you should be able to spot it when you empty the contents. If you don’t find it, you might need to fully clean out the P-trap with hot water and soap. Use a bottle brush to scrub out the inside, as this will get rid of all the extra buildup in the drain and will help prevent further blockages. This should all be more than enough to solve the problem of unclogging the drain, but if the trap is broken or worn, you should replace it at this time.
Step 4 – Buy a New Trap
If the trap was leaky or broken, or if it’s an old one made of chrome, you want to replace it with ABS or PVC plastic. Chrome traps may look classy, but they corrode quickly. However, if it’s an old brass one, you probably don’t need to replace it. To ensure you get the correct size P-trap for a replacement, take the old one with you to the hardware store. A plastic P-trap comes with a complete package, that is, nuts and gaskets included.
Step 5 – Install the P-trap
Now, install the new P-trap. It should easily fit into place, and the threaded ends should be wrapped with Teflon tape. When the P-trap is placed in its right position, slide the nut over the gasket and screw it down on the sink’s tailpiece. Then, on the trap’s tailpiece, screw the nut and gasket onto the drain stub. Use the wrench or channel-locks to turn the nuts just past hand tight. Again, not too tight, as you don’t want to crack anything.
Step 6 – Test It
Once everything has been screwed in place, turn on the water supply, and test the P-trap by running water through it. Check for any leaks at the connections and make sure the sink is draining properly.