Look under your sink, and you will see an unusual-shaped pipe. This p-shaped pipe is the p-trap. And it plays a more important role in your plumbing and your household’s health than you think. Understanding more about this small part of your home’s plumbing system can give you a better appreciation for the vast amount of knowledge that professional plumbers must acquire during their training.
What Is the P-Trap?
Two main types of traps are used under sinks to move wastewater away. The first is the S-trap that resembles a sideways S-shape. A pipe leads down from the drain before curving up and down before sending the water away from the sink at a vertical angle. Unfortunately, these traps have the problem of draining all the water away quickly, leaving the downward curve empty. P-traps correct this issue.A p-trap looks very similar but the pipe leaves the trap at a horizontal angle to make the trap look like the letter P lying on its side. A properly working trap should always have standing water in the curve.
Why Do Sinks Have to Have These Fixtures?
The water in the curve of the traps plays a crucial role in your home’s health. This water acts as a natural barrier against sewer gases and odors that could come into your home through the waste lines. These traps are so essential that most building codes require them even for showers and other types of drains where you don’t see the shape of the trap.If you don’t have standing water in the bottom curve of the trap, you might have a leak in the pipe or have not used that sink for a long enough time that the water in the p-trap evaporated.Another reason to have these fixtures is to prevent flushing solid objects down the drain. For instance, eating utensils, toys, or even jewelry can fall down a large drain. By turning off the water immediately, you may be able to recover the object from inside the p-trap by unscrewing the cleanout place on the trap over a bucket. If your p-trap does not have an easily removed cleanout, consult with a plumber to recover the lost item. They may need to pull apart the drain components to recover your lost item.
Common Problems with a P-Trap
P-traps can experience issues as other plumbing components can. For instance, leaks can drain out the essential water in a trap, causing sewer odors to enter your home. The trap can also become clogged from an item stuck in it. Any type of problems you have with your p-trap typically requires a plumber’s expertise to service.
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