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Plumbing Tips: How to Check a P-Trap for a Clog

The P-trap is the elbow-shaped pipe that you see under your sinks. It traps water and creates a seal that keeps sewer gases away from your house. Unfortunately, its trapping ability also extends to soap scum, grease, hair, and debris. This makes it prone to clogging.

The good news is you can check for clogs and unclog a P-trap without having to call a plumber.

How to Check for a Clog

  • Position a bucket directly under the trap.
  • Loosen the nuts securing the trap. You may be able to do this by hand. If you have older plumbing, you may need a wrench or pliers to loosen them.
  • Once the nuts are loose, continue loosening them by hand.
  • Slide the trap down to remove it and empty any water inside into the bucket.
  • Look inside the trap for any obstructions.

How to Unclog a P-trap

If you discover the trap is clogged, use a bottle brush, straightened wire coat hanger or any other suitable cleaning tool to pull out any debris. Take the trap to a different sink and rinse it to remove any residue that may cause future clogs. It’s also a good idea to clean the pipes that connect to the trap. Take these steps.

  • Gently clean the tailpipe that comes down from the sink to remove any gunk.
  • Insert the tip of a hand snake into the drain stub-out. Continue to push the snake inside while cranking the handle clockwise. The cranking makes the snake spin around the pipe and grab onto or scrape off obstructions.
  • Give your pipe several hits before retracting the snake.
  • Reassemble the trap then run water to assess the drain. Take care not to over-tighten the connections when reinstalling the trap. Hand tightening the nuts followed by a quarter turn with pliers or a wrench should be adequate.

If following these steps doesn’t solve the problems you’re having with your P-trap, call in a plumber. For more help with your P-trap, drain line, or plumbing system, contact us at Beyer Boys. We’ve served the San Antonio area since 1990.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Antonio, Texas area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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