P-Traps: What Are They And Why Do You Need Them?

If you’ve ever experienced a clog in your kitchen sink or bathroom sink before, you’ve probably heard of a P-trap. P-traps are the U-shaped pipes underneath sinks that hold a small amount of water and prevent sewer gases from rising up to your home. These pieces of plumbing also serve several other important purposes that we’ll discuss here.

What Does a Plumbing P-Trap Do?

P-traps are made of PVC or stainless steel and provide the following benefits:

  • Trap Debris & Prevent Clogs. If you notice a slow drain in your bathroom sink, this is most likely indicating that the P-trap has collected enough debris. This includes hair or food waste, to become clogged. The bottom of the P-trap contains a small cleanout used to clear clogs. This happens if the P-trap has become full of food waste, hair, and other things.
  • Protect Against Property Loss. Precious jewelry such as your wedding ring has been known to fall down the drain and P-traps are there to prevent them from entering your sewer mainline. If wedding rings, necklaces, or other small prized possessions accidentally slip into the sink drain, the P-trap can catch these valuables before they go further downstream.
  • Stop Sewer Gases from Infiltrating Your Home. P-traps are best known for preventing sewer gases from seeping from pipes into your home through drains in your sink. This is especially beneficial because prolonged exposure to these gases, such as methane, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, and more, can cause health problems including headaches, fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, memory issues, light-headedness, sinus infections, bronchitis, and even pneumonia. If you notice a ‘rotten egg’ smell in your home, it’s best to check your P-trap and call a plumber if things have become too problematic

How To Know If Your P-Trap IS Working Correctly?

While P-traps are simple plumbing devices, things can go wrong and lead to larger issues. Common problems include:

  • P-trap Gets Overloaded. A single P-trap is connected to 2-3 water-using appliances and cannot handle the wastewater of more than. This creates an overloaded pipe, with water backing up into the sink and putting pressure on connections that can leak.
  • Not Enough Water In P-trap. The P-traps that are not used often, or in very dry climates, water in P-traps can evaporate. This allows sewer gases to enter your home through a drain. If you experience this issue, you can use a tap primer (or tap seal primer). These devices inject water into the P-trap as needed to ensure a water seal.
  • Insufficient Ventilation. Drains without proper ventilation, such as those in older homes or cabins, can empty slowly. If you hear a ‘glug-glug’ sound from another drain in the house, this means you have improper ventilation with your drainage system. The lack of ventilation in the drain that is emptying will cause the drain to look for a release through neighboring lines. This can push/suck air through an adjacent P-trap, emptying water from the trap, and potentially releasing sewer gases.

P-traps are simple drainage pieces. But that plays a vital role in protecting your home from harmful gases or more serious mainline clogs. They create plumbing issues that require a professional. If you find yourself in need of professional help, make sure to book a plumber on Pulled and get your plumbing issue fixed before it causes a bigger issue.

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