Clean a P-Trap in 4 Easy Steps

One of the biggest things we preach is to leave HVAC and plumbing work to the professionals. However, we’ll be the first to admit when a job can be done at home. A perfect example of this is your P-trap. Cleaning out this area of pipe is much easier than one would think. Here is how we clean a P-trap in only 4 steps.

What is a P-Trap?

All appliances and fixtures that collect water—your toilet, shower, and sinks—have a u-shaped pipe to help drain water and filter some bad smells. This u-shaped pipe, also called a P-trap, or plumbing trap, collects water and creates a gravity barrier. A gravity barrier works because the sudden and sharp drop in the pipe creates a seal between your nice clean home, and noxious septic odors. There are times when a P-trap can fail. This usually happens to a sink or appliance that hasn’t been used in a long time. We generally see it in utility sinks or guest bathrooms. When the P-trap dries up there’s no water and therefore, no seal. Simply run the water for 10-15 seconds to re-establish a seal and you should be good to go. However, there are times when simply running the water won’t do and you need to clean the trap itself.

Step by Step: How to Clean a Sink P-Trap

Materials Needed:

  • Bucket – Make sure water stays in one place.
  • Flexible Wire Brush – Similar to the ones used to clean a bottle.
  • Pliers or Adjustable Wrench – For pipes that are a little stuck.

Step 1: Turn off the Water Faucet

The first step is the easiest. Simply make sure the taps to the sink are off. Done! Unlike other plumbing fixes, there is no need to turn off the home’s main water supply. You only need to make sure water going into the specific area you’re working on is off. It’s important to remember that this is still a wet process. Even with the water off. The P-trap collects water, and you will need to drain that water. Step 2: Remove the P-Trap Removing the P-trap itself is easier than most people would think. All you need are your two hands, a washcloth, and maybe a pair of pliers or a wrench. Start by holding any connecter pipes in place, then wrap the washcloth around one of the nuts. The washcloth will help grip the nuts. The only time you’ll need the pliers or wrench is when the nuts are too tight. Plumbing fixtures should be loose enough to remove with your hands.
It all depends on how full the P-trap is, but water could start to leak out as soon as you loosen the nuts. Prepare for water to come out during the removal process and especially after. Now that both the nuts are unscrewed, dump any excess water into the bucket and you’re ready for step 3.

Step 3: Clean the P-Trap

This is probably the easiest of all the tasks. Simply dump the water in the pipe. Then manually pull out anything that may be sticking out of the P-trap. Next, wet your flexible wire brush and push it through the trap. Periodically rinse the brush and keep cleaning the trap until you’re not seeing any residue on the brush. This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

Step 4: Put Everything Back Together

The final step of this process is to put everything back together. And we’ve got good news. Putting it all back together is just as easy as taking it apart. Align the pipe with the nuts and make sure the long end of the P-trap faces the front and the short end is in back. Start by screwing the nuts back onto the pipe. You shouldn’t need more than your hands and a washcloth to get everything back together. However, some nuts are tough, and you may need to pull out the pliers. The final step is to make sure everything is sealed up. Run the water for 15 seconds and watch for any leaks. Obvious leaks mean you either need to tighten the nuts or use Teflon tape to seal everything in place.

How Often Should I Clean my P-Trap?

The experts are Moore Home Services recommend that you clean your P-trap once every 3 months. This is a total of 4 times per year. We also recommend cleaning your drain a few times every year as well. For bigger clogs and plumbing issues, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment. Call the number at the top of the screen or click here to book online.