Sooner or later, every homeowner ends up asking us for advice on how to deal with a clogged kitchen or bathroom sink. This is one of the easiest plumbing problems to fix. All you need are a few minutes and a couple of common household tools.
First, open the cabinet under the sink and take a look. See that section of pipe beneath the sink that’s shaped like an “S” or a “P”? That portion of the pipe is called the trap, and it could be at the root of your problem.
Using gravity, the curved section of pipe “traps” water inside to keep sewer gases from seeping back up through the drain into your home. Over time, however, this fundamental force of nature also causes soap, hair and other debris to collect in the trap, creating a greasy mess that can clog your drain and cause no end of frustration. When that happens, it’s tempting to grab a can of chemical drain cleaner, but that may not be the best plan.
It’s usually best to open the trap and see if you can clear the line before using a chemical drain cleaner. Many home drain systems are now constructed of PVC pipe, and some caustic chemicals can damage this material.
Warning: Never remove a sink drain trap after chemicals have been added to the line without wearing protective gloves and eyewear. Always inform a plumber if chemicals have been added to a drain line so he can take proper precautions.
How To Remove The Trap
Removing the sink trap is a simple process. You’ll need a bucket, a pair of slip-joint pliers and a wire brush that’s small enough to fit inside your drainpipe. Then follow these simple steps:
- Clear out the area under the sink and place the bucket beneath the trap.
- Use the pliers to loosen the slip nuts located on each side of the trap. Once the slip nuts are loose, unscrew them by hand and push them to the side.
- As you loosen the trap, the water that is trapped inside will gush out. Let it run into the bucket, along with any debris that has accumulated.
- Once all the water and debris are out of the trap, remove it and use the wire brush to clean it thoroughly. Rinse it with hot water to get rid of accumulated greasy material, but don’t forget – you’ll need to use another water source because you’ve disconnected the drain.
- After the trap has been cleaned thoroughly, set it aside and inspect the slip nut washers. Do they look stiff or cut? If so, replace them. Doing so now will save you a leak later on.
- Once you are satisfied that the slip nut washers are ready, add pipe joint compound to the surface of each washer, and fit the trap back into place, making sure it is seated properly on either end. Holding the trap steady with one hand, slide one of the slip nuts back into place and tighten it. Then, slide the second slip nut back into place and tighten it.
- Use the pliers to make sure the slips nuts are snug, but don’t over tighten.
- Turn on the faucet and check for leaks. You may want to put a sheet or two of newspaper under the trap to help you spot drops of water.
If a leak appears, you may have tightened one of the slip nuts improperly. Loosen each slip nut and try tightening them again, making sure they are aligned properly. Pipe joint compound will be especially helpful in avoiding leaks. It can be purchased at plumbing supply stores for use on certain types of pipe to help form an effective seal.
When the trap is secure and no leaks are apparent, turn on the tap and see if the drain flows smoothly. In most cases, removing the accumulated grease and debris from the trap will solve your problem.
Knowing how to remove a sink drain trap can come in handy in another kind of emergency, as well. Sometimes, items such as rings can fall into the sink and go down the drain. To reclaim your valuables, simply remove the trap.
If your drain problems persist, you may need to contact a professional plumber.
For more information on Mr. Rooter’s services, contact us at 602-635-3360